WARNING: Vietnam is party to the Hague Adoption Convention. Do not adopt or obtain legal custody of a child in Vietnam before a consular officer has issued an “Article 5/17 Letter” in the case. Read on for more information.

Vietnam’s Adoption Authority
Ministry of Justice, Department of Adoptions (MOJ/DA)

The Process

Because Vietnam is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adoptions from Vietnam must follow a specific process designed to meet the Convention’s requirements. A brief summary of the Convention adoption process is provided below. You must complete these steps in the following order to meet all necessary legal requirements. Adoptions completed out of order may result in the child not being eligible for an immigrant visa.

1. Choose an Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider that has been Authorized by Vietnam’s Central Authority to Operate in Vietnam;
2. Apply to the agency to be Found Suitable and Eligible to Adopt;
3. Apply to Vietnam’s Authorities to Adopt and be Matched with a Child;
4. Apply to the agency for the Child to be Found Provisionally Eligible for Immigration as a Convention Adoptee and Receive Agreement to Proceed with the Adoption;
5. Adopt the Child in Vietnam;
6. Apply for an Immigrant Visa for Your Child and Bring Your Child Home.

 

1.Choose an Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider That Has Been Authorized by Vietnam’s Central Authority to Operate in Vietnam

The first step in adopting a child from Vietnam is to select an adoption service provider  that has been accredited or approved to provide services in Convention cases and that has been authorized by the Government of Vietnam. Only accredited or approved adoption services providers may act as the primary provider in your case. The primary adoption service provider is responsible for ensuring that all adoption services in the case are done in accordance with the Hague Adoption Convention and laws and regulations of your country. Learn more about Agency Accreditation.

 

2.Apply to the agency to be Found Suitable and Eligible to Adopt
After you choose an accredited or approved and Government of Vietnam authorized adoption service provider, you must apply to be found suitable and eligible to adopt by the Department of Homeland Security,  Citizenship and Immigration Services), by submittingForm I-800A. You will need to complete a home study, fingerprints, and a background check as part of this application.  

 

3.Apply to Vietnam’s Authorities to Adopt and be Matched with a Child

After the agency determines that you are “suitable” and “eligible” to adopt and approves the Form I-800A application, you will be provided with your approval notice, home study, and any other required information to the adoption authority in Vietnam as part of your adoption dossier. Vietnam’s adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also suitable and eligible to adopt under Vietnam’s law.

If both your country and Vietnam determine that you are suitable and eligible to adopt, and the central authority for Convention adoptions in Vietnam has determined that a child is available for adoption and that inter-country adoption is in that child’s best interests, the central authority for Convention adoptions in Vietnam may provide you with a referral for a child. The referral is a proposed match between you and a specific child based on a review of your dossier and the needs of a specific child. The adoption authority in Vietnam will provide a background study and other information, if available, about the child to help you decide whether to accept the referral or not. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of, and provide a permanent home for, a particular child. If you accept the referral, the adoption service provider communicates that to the central authority in Vietnam.

 

4.Apply to the agency for the Child to be Found Provisionally Eligible for Immigration as a Convention Adoptee and Receive Agreement to Proceed with the Adoption
After you accept a match with a child, you will apply to the Department of Homeland Security, Citizenship and Immigration Services for provisional approval for the child to immigrate (Form I-800). The agency will make a provisional determination as to whether the child appears to meet the definition of a Convention Adoptee and will be eligible to enter and reside in your country.

After provisional approval of Form I-800 petition, you will submit a visa application to the Consular Section Embassy  that is responsible for issuing immigrant visas to children from Vietnam. A consular officer will review the Form I-800 and the visa application for possible visa ineligibilities and advise you of options for the waiver of any noted ineligibilities.

WARNING:The consular officer will send a letter (referred to as an “Article 5/17 Letter”) to Vietnam’s Central Authority in any inter-country adoption involving citizen parents and a child from Vietnam where all Convention requirements are met and the child appears eligible to immigrate. This letter will inform Vietnam’s Central Authority that the parents have been found suitable and eligible to adopt, that the child appears eligible to enter and reside permanently, and that the Central Authority agrees that the adoption may proceed.

Do not attempt to adopt or obtain custody of a child in Vietnam before a consular officer has issued the “Article 5/17 Letter” in any adoption case.

Remember: The consular officer will make a final decision about a child’s eligibility for an immigrant visa later in the adoption process.

 

5.Adopt the Child in Vietnam

Remember: Before you adopt a child in Vietnam, you must have completed the above four steps. Only after completing these steps can you proceed to finalize the adoption in Vietnam.

The process for finalizing the adoption in Vietnam generally includes the following:

    • Role of Adoption Authority: Several governmental bodies at the national and provincial levels have roles in the inter-country adoption process in Vietnam:

      Ministry of Justice, Department of Adoption (MOJ/DA) is the Central Authority for Inter-country Adoption in Vietnam. MOJ/DA is responsible for the overall supervision of the adoption process. MOJ/DA authorizes foreign adoption agencies to operate in Vietnam, accepts and reviews dossiers of prospective adoptive parents, reviews referrals made by provincial authorities, and verifies that the adoption was in accordance with Vietnam’s Adoption Law and the Hague Adoption Convention. The MOJ/DA also matches prospective adoptive parents with children with special needs, children aged five and older, and children in biological sibling groups.

      The provincial Department of Justice determines the eligibility of the child for intercountry adoption, organizes the “Giving and Receiving” ceremony, and maintains the adoption registry, which is a record of all adoption cases processed in the province that contains information on the adopted child, adoptive parents, and the date the provincial People’s Committee issued the Adoption Decree.

      The provincial People’s Committee issues the final Adoption Decree.
    • Role of the Court: Vietnam’s courts do not issue Adoption Decrees in Vietnamese Convention adoptions. The Vietnamese courts have no role in intercountry adoptions.
    • Role of Adoption Agencies: The accredited and authorized  adoption service provider facilitates the adoption on behalf of the prospective adoptive parents, including assembling the application dossier for submission to MOJ/DA, providing logistical support for prospective adoptive parents and their adopted child(ren), and providing post-adoption reports to MOJ/DA. The adoption service provider is also responsible for fully informing prospective adoptive parents about the child’s medical condition, if applicable, so that they can make an informed decision about the adoption.
    • Time Frame: It is difficult to predict with certainty how much time is required to complete an adoption in Vietnam. Adoption processing depends on many variables, including the wait time to be matched with an eligible child, the workload of Vietnamese adoption authorities, and the specific circumstances of each case. Although Vietnam processes adoptions through the Special Adoption Program as expeditiously as possible, it should be noted that the adoption process in general can be lengthy.
    • Adoption Application: To start the adoption process through the Special Adoption Program, prospective adoptive parents must contact the MOJ/DA.

      Application: Prospective adoptive parents file their application dossier with MOJ/DA through an accredited adoption service provider that has been authorized by the Government of Vietnam.

      Matching: MOJ/DA reviews and approves the application dossier of the prospective adoptive parent(s). The MOJ/DA then matches prospective adoptive parents with an eligible child.

      Prospective adoptive parents have 30 days to either accept or refuse the referral. Formal acceptance is defined by the MOJ/DA as notification by the adoption service provider to the MOJ/DA of referral acceptanceandreceipt by the MOJ/DA of the “Article 5/17 Letter.” “Article 5/17 Letters” issued by the Embassy indicate that the prospective adoptive parents are eligible and suitable to adopt, have been counseled as necessary, the child is or will be authorized to enter and reside permanently, and the adoption may proceed.

      In order for the Embassy  to issue an “Article 5/17 Letter,” the agency must provisionally approve the child’s Form I-800,Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative, which may take an average of 30 days upon the agency’ receipt of the filing. The agency also must notify the Embassy of the provisional approval. If a child has urgent medical needs that have been clearly articulated by the MOJ/DA in the child’s background report and these medical needs meet your agency’s expeditecriteria, prospective adoptive parents may wish to request expeditious processing of their Form I-800 petition from the agency.

      The MOJ/DA can extend the 30-day response timeframe for an additional 30 daysone time only. Prospective adoptive parents may request this extension in writing to the MOJ/DA, indicating their acceptance of the referral. After the response time expires (30 days, or 60 days if extended), the MOJ/DA may refer the child to another prospective adoptive family as a potential match.

      Given Vietnam’s timeframe, prospective adoptive parents should be prepared to file the Form I-800 petition as soon as possible after deciding to accept a referral; ensure that the Form I-800 petition information is as complete and accurate as possible at the time of submission; notify the MOJ/DA of acceptance of the referral within 30 days; and simultaneously request from the MOJ/DA the one-time, 30 day extension.

      If prospective adoptive parents refuse the referral without a reasonable justification, they may not receive another referral.

      Prior Contact:Prospective adoptive parents are generally not allowed to have any contact with the child’s birth parents, guardian, or institutions caring for the child until they have an approved Form I-800A, Vietnam has determined that the child is eligible for adoption, and the required consents to the adoption have been obtained. However, certain exceptions to this rule apply, including when a prospective adoptive parent is a family member; when adopting children with special needs; when adopting a child who is a sibling of an already adopted child, when prospective adoptive parents have been working or studying in Vietnam for at least one year, and when the contact is otherwise permitted by the MOJ/DA.

Adoption fees charged by the MOJ/DA include:

      • Application fee: 9,000,000 VND (approximately 430 USD as of September 2014) to be paid to MOJ/DA when prospective adoptive parents submit their application dossier. Prospective adoptive parents who are stepparents, uncles, or aunts of the adopted child pay 50 percent of the application fee. Prospective adoptive parents who apply to adopt more than one child who are siblings pay 50 percent of the application fee for each additional child.
      • Adoption processing fee: The fee is waived for adoptions of children through the Special Adoption Program (i.e., children with special needs, children aged five or older, and children in biological sibling groups of two or more). Otherwise, the fee would be 50,000,000 VND (approximately 2,400 USD as of September 2014) to be paid to MOJ/DA when prospective adoptive parents accept the child referred to them by MOJ/DA.

Other fees associated with adopting from Vietnam may include:

      • Legalization of documents by the Vietnamese Embassy or Consulate costs 10 USD per document (as of September 2014). The fee is for authentication of the seal.
      • Passport application fee is 200,000 VND per passport (approximately 10 USD as of September 2014).
      • Translations of documents can be done in your country and the costs may vary.
      • Fees for notarizing documents for the Vietnamese passport application should be nominal and posted by the provincial DOJ.
    • Documents Required: The following documents are required to be submitted in the application dossier:
      • Adoption application form
      • Copy of passport or other equivalent identification document
      • Certificate of child adoption approval issued by a competent authority (also known as the Department of Homeland Security, Citizenship and Immigration Services’ approval of the Form I-800A application)
      • Home study (issued within past 12 months)
      • Medical report (issued within past 12 months)
      • Confirmation of income (issued within past 12 months)
      • Criminal records (issued within past 12 months)
      • Marital status certificate (i.e. marriage certificate or single status statement)

Note:Prospective adoptive parents are required to prepare two identical sets of application dossiers. All documents must be translated and authenticated by the Vietnamese Embassy or one of the Vietnamese Consulates in your country. Additional documents may be requested.

    • Authentication of Documents: You may be asked to provide proof that a document from your country is authentic. 

Note:Any documents pertaining to adoption applications submitted to the Vietnamese authorities must be notarized and authenticated by the Vietnamese Embassy or Consulate in your country and translated into Vietnamese. All documents submitted to the government of country you live must be translated into mother tongue.

 

6.Apply for an Immigrant Visa for your Child and Bring Your Child Home

Now that your adoption is complete, there are a few more steps to take before your child can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for three documents before your child can travel to your country:

Birth Certificate
You will receive the child’s original birth certificate after the “Giving and Receiving” ceremony so that you can use it to apply for a passport for your child.

Vietnam Passport
Your child is not yet a citizen of country you live, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Vietnam.

You should be assisted with obtaining a Vietnamese passport for the adopted child. Passport applications are submitted to the Ministry of Public Security, Department of Immigration office or Ho Chi Minh City. Applications should include the following:

    • Passport application form with photo affixed, certified by the provincial Department of Justice where the adoption was finalized
    • Four separate, identical 4x6 photos with white background
    • One notarized copy of the Adoption Decree
    • One notarized copy of the Giving and Receiving Minute
    • One notarized copy of the Birth Certificate
    • One notarized copy of adoptive parents’ passports

Passport applications may be submitted at one of the following offices of the Department of Immigration:

       Hanoi Office
       44-46 Tran Phu Street
       Ba Dinh District, Hanoi
       Tel: +84-4-3825-7941

       Ho Chi Minh City Office
       254 Nguyen Trai Street
       District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
       Tel: +84-8-3920-2300

The passport application fee is 200,000 VND per passport (approximately 10 USD as of September 2014). The regular processing timeframe is five days.

 

Traveling Abroad

Obtaining a Visa to Travel to Vietnam
In addition to a passport, you may also need to obtain a visa. A visa is an official document issued by a foreign country that formally allows you to visit. Where required, visas are affixed to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation. To find information about obtaining a visa for Vietnam, see the Department of State’sCountry Specific Information.

Staying Safe on Your Trip
Before you travel, it is always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The Department of State provides Country Specific Informationfor every country of the world about various issues, including the health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.