Hague Convention Information
Papua New Guinea is not party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention). Intercountry adoptions of children from non-Hague countries are processed in accordance with 8 Code of Federal Regulations, Section 204.3 as it relates to orphans as defined under the Immigration and Nationality Act, Section 101(b)(1)(F). Under the Intercountry Adoption Universal Accreditation Act (UAA), which became effective on July 14, 2014, the accreditation requirement and standards, which previously only applied in Convention cases, now also apply in non-Convention or “orphan” cases. The UAA requires that an accredited or approved adoption service provider acts as a primary provider in every case, and that adoption service providers providing adoption services on behalf of prospective adoptive parents be accredited or approved, or be a supervised or exempted provider. Adoption service providers and prospective adoptive parents should review the State Department’s Universal Accreditation Act of 2012 webpage for further information. Intercountry adoptions of children from non-Convention countries continue to be processed under the Orphan Process with the filing of the Forms I-600A and I-600. However, adoption service providers should be aware of the information on the USCIS website on the impact on Form I-600A and Form I-600 adjudications under the UAA, including the requirement that all home studies, including home study updates and amendments, comply with the Convention home study requirements, which differ from the orphan home study requirements that were in effect before July 14, 2014.
According to the Papua New Guinea Adoption Act of 1968, prospective adoptive parents who wish to adopt a child from Papua New Guinea must be resident in Papua New Guinea for a period of six months before they can be eligible to adopt.
U.S. Immigration Requirements For Intercountry Adoptions
To bring an adopted child to the United States from Papua New Guinea, you must meet eligibility and suitability requirements. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determines who can adopt under U.S. immigration law.
Additionally, a child must meet the definition of orphan under U.S. immigration law in order to be eligible to immigrate to the United States on an IR-3 or IR-4 immigrant visa.
Who Can Adopt
In addition to U.S. immigration requirements, you must also meet the following requirements in order to adopt a child from Papua New Guinea:
- Residency: Prospective adoptive parents must be resident in Papua New Guinea for a minimum of six months before they are eligible to adopt.
- Age of Adopting Parents: Prospective adoptive parents must be 21 years of age or older, healthy, fit, and capable of caring for the child.
- Marriage: Prospective adoptive parents must be legally married.
- Income: Prospective adoptive parents must be financially stable. Though there are no stated guidelines, a home study determines eligibility
- Other: Adoption by same sex couples is not permitted in Papua New Guinea.
Who Can Be Adopted
In addition to U.S. immigration requirements, Papua New Guinea has specific requirements that a child must meet in order to be eligible for adoption:
- Relinquishment: The relinquishing parent(s) must provide verbal and written consent to a social welfare officer for the child to be adopted.
- Abandonment: The Office of Lukautim Pikinini (Child Welfare) will evaluate the best interests of the child if one or both parents are alive. The Government of Papua New Guinea gives preference to domestic over foreign adoptions.
- Age of Adoptive Child: The child must be under the age of 18.
- Sibling Adoptions: Siblings may be adopted together by the same prospective adoptive family.
- Special Needs or Medical Conditions: Living conditions of prospective adoptive parents must be conducive to the child’s needs as determined by a home study.
- Waiting Period or Foster Care: There is no mandated waiting period.
Caution: Prospective adoptive parents should be aware that not all children in orphanages or children’s homes are adoptable. In many countries, birth parents place their child(ren) temporarily in an orphanage or children’s home due to financial or other hardship, intending that the child return home when this becomes possible. In such cases, the birth parent(s) have rarely relinquished their parental rights or consented to their child(ren)’s adoption.
How To Adopt
Papua New Guinea’s Adoption Authority
The Office of Lukautim Pikinini (Child Welfare), under the Department for Community Development and Religion, oversees intercountry adoption.
The process for adopting a child from Papua New Guinea generally includes the following steps:
- Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider
- Apply to be found eligible to adopt
- Be matched with a child
- Adopt (or obtain custody of) the child in Papua New Guinea
- Apply for the child to be found eligible for orphan status
- Bring your child home
- Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider
The recommended first step in adopting a child from Papua New Guinea is to decide whether to use a licensed adoption service provider in the United States that can help you with your adoption. Adoption service providers must be licensed by the U.S. state in which they operate. The Department of State provides information on selecting an adoption service provider on its website.
There are no adoption agencies in Papua New Guinea. Prospective adoptive parents may use the services of a local attorney during the process. Prospective adoptive parents should also contact the Office of Lukautim Pikinini (Child Welfare) for guidance.
Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
In order to adopt a child from Papua New Guinea, you will need to meet the requirements of the Government of Papua New Guinea and U.S. immigration law. You must visit the Office of Lukautim Pikinini (Child Welfare) for an interview to be found eligible to adopt. If the Office of Lukautim Pikinini (Child Welfare) finds you eligible, then you may proceed with the adoption through a local lawyer, who will guide you through the process.
To meet U.S. immigration requirements, you may also file an I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition with U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to be found eligible and suitable to adopt. As of July 14, 2014, unless an exception applies, the home study must comply with the requirements in 8 CFR 204.311 (PDF 199 KB) and 22 CFR Part 96.47 (PDF 164 KB).
Be Matched with a Child
If you are determined to be eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, the Office of Lukautim Pikinini (Child Welfare), Department for Community Development and Religion in Papua New Guinea will provide you with a referral. 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.
The child must be eligible to be adopted according to Papua New Guinea’s requirements, as described in the Who Can Be Adopted section. The child must also meet the definition of orphan under U.S. law in order to immigrate to the United States.
Adopt or Obtain Legal Custody of Child in Papua New Guinea
The process for finalizing the adoption (or obtaining legal custody) in Papua New Guinea generally includes the following:
- Role of Adoption Authority: The Office of Lukautim Pikinini (Child Welfare) under the Department of Community Development and Religion oversees all adoptions, conducts personal interviews with prospective adoptive parents, conducts home studies, and works with the lawyer(s) responsible for the adoption case.
- Role of the Court: The prospective adoptive parents must file an Application for Adoption, through their lawyer, with the National Court. The court may approve an adoption order only when it receives the written consent of the Director of the Office of Lukautim Pikinini (Child Welfare) and is satisfied with the home study and any other evidence submitted.
- Role of Adoption Agencies: There are no adoption agencies in Papua New Guinea. Prospective adoptive parents work with the Office of Lukautim Pikinini (Child Welfare) and with a local lawyer.
- Adoption Application: The Office of Lukautin Pikinini (Child Welfare) does not maintain a standard application form for prospective adoptive parents applying to adopt a child from Papua New Guinea. Once the prospective adoptive parents have identified a prospective child, they must work through the Office of Lukautim Pikinini (Child Welfare). Prospective adoptive parents must visit this Office before they consult with a lawyer. If the Office does not find the case viable, it may be impossible to proceed. A favorable opinion of the Office is required for the court to hear the case. The Office strongly recommends working with a local lawyer who has performed recent foreign adoptions.
- Time Frame: An adoption in Papua New Guinea may take nine months or longer to finalize, not including the mandatory six-month residency period.
- Adoption Fees: The Office of Lukautim Pikinini (Child Welfare) does not collect any fees with the adoption application. Prospective adoptive parents can expect to pay a minimum of K10,000 to K12,000 in legal fees to their lawyer for paperwork and to file documents with the court. The fee is paid after the adoption is finalized. The UAA and the Intercountry Adoption Act (IAA) make it unlawful to improperly influence relinquishment of parental rights, parental consent relating to adoption of a child, or a decision by an entity performing Central Authority functions.
- Documents Required: The following documents are required to complete an adoption in Papua New Guinea:
- Birth certificate
- Medical reports for the prospective adoptive parents
- Medical report for the prospective adoptive child, obtained through a physician determined by the court
- Police background check
- Employment and academic references
- Bank statements
- Marriage certificate
- Family photos
Note: Additional documents may be requested. Some documents must be signed by a Papua New Guinea Commissioner of Oath.
- Authentication of Documents: You may be asked to provide proof that documents from the United States are authentic. If so, the Department of State, Authentications Office may be able to assist.
Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Orphan Status
After you finalize the adoption (or gain legal custody) in Papua New Guinea, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services must determine whether the child meets the definition of orphan under U.S. immigration law. You will need to file a Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative. At the time you file your Form I-600 petition, the adjudicating officer will determine whether the UAA applies or if your case is UAA grandfathered. For more information on UAA grandfathering and transition cases, please see Universal Accreditation Act of 2012. Unless an exception applies, you must identify a primary provider in your case and the adjudicating officer may ask for the name and contact information of the primary provider if not provided in your Form I-600 petition. This information is required and, without it, your Form I-600 petition cannot be approved.
Bring Your Child Home
Once your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child), you need to apply for several documents for your child before you can apply for a U.S. immigrant visa to bring your child home to the United States:
If you have finalized the adoption in Papua New Guinea, you will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate.
After the adoption is finalized, the adoptive parents will submit an application for a new Birth Certificate together with the Court Order to the Civil Registry Office under the Department of Community Development and Religion.
Papua New Guinea Passport
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Papua New Guinea.
After the adoption is finalized, the adoptive parents should immediately apply for a Papua New Guinea passport for the child by submitting a passport application, copies of the passport fee receipt of K100.00, court order, and birth certificate to Papua New Guinea Immigration and Citizenship Services Authority (PNGICSA).
U.S. Immigrant Visa
After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child and you have filed Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, you then need to apply for a U.S. immigrant visa for your child from the U.S. Embassy in Port Moresby. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you. As part of this process, the Consular Officer must be provided the Panel Physician’s medical report on the child.
You can find instructions for applying for an immigrant visa on the U.S. Embassy in Papua New Guinea’s website.
The U.S. Embassy in Port Moresby’s Consular Section provides immigrant visa services on Monday and Wednesday mornings, by appointment only, from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. After the final interview, the visa is usually issued the following morning. Generally it is not possible to provide the visa to adoptive parents on the same day as the immigrant visa interview. Adoptive parents should verify current processing times with the U.S. Embassy in Port Moresby before making final travel arrangements.
Child Citizenship Act
For adoptions finalized abroad prior to the child’s entry into the United States: A child will acquire U.S. citizenship upon entry into the United States if the adoption was finalized prior to entry and the child otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.
For adoptions finalized after the child’s entry into the United States: An adoption will need to be completed following your child’s entry into the United States for the child to acquire U.S. citizenship.
*Please be aware that if your child did not qualify to become a citizen upon entry to the United States, it is very important that you take the steps necessary so that your child does qualify as soon as possible. Failure to obtain citizenship for your child can impact many areas of his/her life including family travel, eligibility for education and education grants, and voting.
Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.
Applying for Your U.S. Passport
U.S. citizens are required by law to enter and depart the United States on a valid U.S. passport. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify U.S. passports.
Getting or renewing a passport is easy. The Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print—all in one place.
Obtaining a Visa to Travel to Papua New Guinea
In addition to a U.S. 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 Papua New Guinea, see the Department of State’s Country-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 Information for every country of the world about various issues, including the health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.
Staying in Touch on Your Trip
When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to enroll with the Department of State. Enrollment makes it possible to contact you if necessary. Whether there is a family emergency in the United States or a crisis in Papua New Guinea, enrollment assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.
Enrollment is free and can be done online via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
Post-Adoption/Post-Placement Reporting Requirements
Papua New Guinea does not have any post-adopting reporting requirements.
Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. There are many public and private nonprofit post-adoption services available for children and their families. There are also numerous adoptive family support groups and adoptee organizations active in the United States that provide a network of options for adoptees who seek out other adoptees from the same country of origin. Take advantage of all the resources available to your family, whether it is another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services.
Here are some places to start your support group search:
Note: Inclusion of non-U.S. government links does not imply endorsement of contents.
U.S. Embassy in Papua New Guinea
Embassy of the United States of America
P.O. Box 1492
Port Moresby, N.C.D. 121
Papua New Guinea
Tel: +(675) 321-1455
Fax: +(675) 320-0637
Papua New Guinea’s Adoption Authority
Office of Lukautim Pikinin (Child Welfare)
Department for Community Development and Religion
P.O. Box 7354
Papua New Guinea
Tel: +(675) 325-9893
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about immigration procedures:
USCIS National Customer Service Center (NCSC)
Tel: 1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)
For questions about filing a Form I-600A or I-600 petition:
USCIS National Benefits Center
Tel: 1-877-424-8374 (toll free); 1-816-251-2770 (local)