Jamaica

PATTERNS OF IMMIGRATION OF ADOPTED ORPHANS TO THE U.S.: Recent U.S. immigrant visa statistics reflect the following pattern for visa issuance to orphans from Jamaica.

Fiscal Year Number of Immigrant Visas Issued
FY 2005 63
FY 2004 51
FY 2003 36
FY 2002 39
FY 2001 51

ADOPTION AUTHORITY IN JAMAICA: The government office responsible for adoptions in Jamaica is the Child Development Agency, or CDA, which may be reached via its web site at http://www.cda.gov.jm, or by mail or phone at:

2-4 King Street
Kingston 5, Jamaica
Tel: 876-948-6678
Fax: 876-924-9401

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS FOR ADOPTIVE PARENTS:

The government of Jamaica allows for adoptions by single individuals or married couples. Prospective adoptive parents who are not related to the potential adopted child must be age 25 or older. If the child is a brother, sister, niece or nephew of the prospective adoptive parent(s), at least one of the prospective adoptive parents must be age 18 or older. There are no laws that dictate the age difference between the adoptee and the perspective adoptive parent when they are related.

The CDA does not have any specified medical ineligibilities, but evaluates each potential adoption on a case-by-case basis. A medical condition of the adoptive parents may factor into this evaluation.

RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS: There are two types of adoption in Jamaica: Adoption Licenses and Adoption Orders (explained below).

Prospective adoptive parents seeking an Adoption License have no residency requirements to meet. However, the prospective adoptive parents will likely have to travel to Jamaica at least twice (once to meet with the CDA and again to apply for a visa).

Prospective adoptive parents seeking an Adoption Order must reside in Jamaica during the pre-adoption placement and until the case appears before a Jamaican court. This typically takes at least four months. The court may waive the pre-adoption placement requirement if the adoptive parents are Jamaican nationals adopting a relative.

TIME FRAME: Most adoptions under the Adoption License process can be completed in four months. For Adoption Orders, the time frame may be somewhat longer. Paperwork processing may take 2-3 months to complete prior to the pre-adoption placement, unless the child is a relative. The pre-adoption placement typically lasts four months.

ADOPTION AGENCIES AND ATTORNEYS: The Child Development Agency is the only agency legally authorized to provide adoption services in Jamaica. There are one or two private agencies operating in Jamaica, but they do so without government sanction or authorization.

ADOPTION FEES IN JAMAICA: The Child Development Agency does not charge any fees for adoptions. The CDA has proposed charging a registration fee, but, as of March 2006, has yet to receive permission from the Ministry of Health, who oversees the CDA, to do so. The amount of the registration fee has yet to be determined.

The CDA requires the prospective adoptive child to undergo an extensive medical exam that includes laboratory work. Any licensed pediatrician in Jamaica can perform this examination. Most pediatricians charge approximately US$100 for the medical examination.

After a committee of the CDA approves the adoption, the case is referred to the court. Adoptive parents may have legal representation at the court proceeding, but most adoptive parents do not hire an attorney for the court proceeding. Attorney fees will vary.

ADOPTION PROCEDURES IN JAMAICA:

All applications for adoptions of Jamaican children must be made to the Child Development Agency. The CDA also identifies children for adoption, so persons interested in adopting a child from Jamaica should contact the CDA.

There are both public and private children’s homes in Jamaica. The CDA administers the public children’s homes but not the private homes. The CDA, however, places children from either type of home.

In the city of Kingston as well as St. Andrew, Westmoreland, and St. James parishes, special Family Courts exercise jurisdiction over adoptions. In all other parishes, the local Resident Magistrate’s Court supervises adoptions.

As was stated above, there are two types of adoption in Jamaica: Adoption Licenses and Adoption Orders.

Adoption License: Adoption Licenses allow for a Jamaican citizen orphan to be taken to a “scheduled country” (the United States is a scheduled country) and adopted there. If the child is a grandchild, niece or nephew of the applicant(s), a License is not required, but the prospective adoptive parent(s) must still work through the CDA.

For the Adoption License to be issued, the Jamaican court must be satisfied that the prospective adoptive parent(s) is/are suitable (in keeping with the requirements of the CDA that sending the child abroad would be in his or her best interest and that the consent of the child’s parent(s) or guardian(s), or any person who has custody of the child, has been given). To determine that the prospective adoptive parent(s) is/are suitable, the CDA reviews the home study. In most cases, the home study conducted as part of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ I-600 or I-600A process will be suitable. The CDA verifies the contents of the home study report by writing to the home study agency. In doing so, the CDA verifies the home study authorship and obtains the home study agency’s agreement to supervise the placement in the future.

NOTE: The CDA may, on a case-by-case basis, require the agency that conducted the home study to submit reports to the CDA on a regular basis for up to two years after the License is issued.

Adoption Orders: Adoption Orders provide for the orphan to be adopted in Jamaica. Adoption Orders require a pre-adoption placement. The placement involves CDA supervision of the prospective adoptive child in the prospective adoptive parents’ home, typically for 4 months. This placement must take place in Jamaica. The CDA also conducts a home study during this period. The court issues the Adoption Order when the CDA is satisfied that the pre-adoption placement has gone well and that it is in the best interest of the child to be adopted by the petitioner. Post-placement reports are not required when an Adoption Order is issued.

DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR ADOPTION IN JAMAICA:

To obtain an Adoption License, the prospective adoptive parent(s) must present:

  1. An application form (available from the CDA);
  2. A certified original home study plus two copies to be sent directly to the Board by the Department of Health (this can be the same home study conducted in the U.S. for the I-600A or I-600);
  3. A completed medical examination of both the prospective adoptive parents and the child;
  4. A letter of undertaking from the agency that conducted the home study agreeing to supervise the placement until the adoption is complete, and beyond, as determined necessary on a case-by-case basis by the CDA;
  5. A bank statement;
  6. Letter(s) from the parent(s)’s employer(s), indicating annual income and the nature of employment.

To obtain an Adoption Order, the prospective adoptive parent(s) must present:

  1. An application form (available from the CDA);
  2. A certified original home study plus two copies to be sent directly to the Board by the Department of Health (this can be the same home study conducted in the U.S. for the I-600A or I-600);
  3. A completed medical examination of both the prospective adoptive parents and the child
  4. An income statement;
  5. Two personal references;
  6. A letter of undertaking from the Jamaican agency that conducted the home study to supervise placement.

Note: In Jamaica, an Adoption Order legally supercedes a birth certificate, as it shows DOB, (new) parentage, and (new) name. This includes for passport purposes as well. ONLY the Adoption Order is presented to the Jamaican Passport Office in cases where an Order has been obtained. The birth certificate is still required to apply for the passport where only the License has been obtained.

For an orphan to be processed at the U.S. Embassy for an immigrant visa, the child will require a Jamaican passport and birth certificate. Jamaican passport applications must be made in person at the Jamaican Immigration Citizenship and Passport Services Division, commonly known as the “Passport Office.” There are only two Passport Offices able to accept applications in Jamaica.

25 Constant Spring Road,
Kingston 10
Phone: 876-754-4742;

and

Overton Plaza,
49 Union Street,
Montego Bay
Phone: 876-952-5380

The child must appear in person at the Passport Office unless he or she is less than three years old. The cost of applying for a passport is $1500 Jamaican (about US $24-25) for children up to the age of 18, and $2500 Jamaican (about US $40-41) for those over 18. Two passport photos must be presented along with the birth certificate or the Adoption Order, if one has been issued. If the child has already been adopted, the adoptive parent must appear with the child. If the child has not yet been adopted, a representative of the Child Welfare Division or the biological parent must appear; the adoptive parent may only appear with a letter from the Child Welfare Division.

To obtain a Jamaican birth certificate, adoptive parents apply with the Jamaican Registrar General’s Department (RGD). One may apply in person at any RGD office in Jamaica or by mail, including from the United States, although this is more expensive. Prices also differ based on whether the applicant can provide the RGD with a birth record number, and on whether the applicant requests express service. For the full current fee schedule, see the RGD website at: http://www.rgd.gov.jm/prices. The main page, http://www.rgd.gov.jm, has general contact and other information. Questions about applying for a birth certificate should be directed to the RGD.

AUTHENTICATING U.S. DOCUMENTS TO BE USED ABROAD: The language describing the process of authenticating U.S. documents to be used abroad is currently under review. Please click on the following link for more information until the new language is finalized: http://www.state.gov/m/a/auth/.

JAMAICA EMBASSY AND CONSULATES IN THE UNITED STATES:

Embassy of Jamaica
1520 New Hampshire Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: 202-452-0660

Jamaica also has Consulates-General in New York, NY and Miami, FL, as well as Consulates in Atlanta, GA; Boston, MA; Chicago, IL; Dallas, TX; Houston, TX; Los Angeles, CA; Richmond, VA; San Francisco, CA; and Seattle, WA.

U.S. Immigration Requirements

Prospective adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to consult USCIS publication M-249, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adopting Children, as well as the Department of State publication, International Adoptions. The USCIS publication is available at the USCIS Web site. The Department of State publication International Adoption can be found on the Bureau of Consular Affairs Web site, travel.state.gov, under “International Adoption.”

Before completing an adoption abroad, prospective adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to read the requirements for filing Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative. Please see the flyer “How Can Adopted Children Come to the United States” at the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs web site travel.state.gov.

U.S. EMBASSY IN JAMAICA: Americans living or traveling abroad are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department’s travel registration Web site, https://travelregistration.state.gov/ , and to obtain updated information on travel and security within the country of travel. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The Consular Section is located at:

Street Address:

U.S. Embassy Jamaica
16 Oxford Road
Kingston 5
Jamaica, West Indies
Tel: 876-935-6000
Fax: 876-935-6019

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 541
Kingston
Jamaica

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY IN JAMAICA:

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has an office in Kingston, Jamaica where I-600 petitions can be filed locally. This office is located at:

Street Address:

2 Oxford Road, 1st Floor
Kingston 5
Jamaica, West Indies
Tel: 876-926-6098

The office is open to the public Monday through Thursday (except holidays), 9:00 am to 12 noon.

APPLYING FOR A VISA AT THE U.S. EMBASSY IN JAMAICA:

After obtaining the Adoption License or Adoption Order, the adoptive parents should schedule an immigrant visa interview at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy. This may be done by appearing at the Information Window of the Immigrant Visa section on any weekday (except U.S. and Jamaican holidays) between 7:15 am and 10 am. The medical examination can usually be scheduled for the next business day, and the interview for the day after that. The cost of the medical examination for the immigrant visa application is approximately US$50 for children under 15 and US$100 for children 15 and older. The medical examination used to meet to the CDA requirements cannot be used for the immigrant visa interview.

Note: Visa issuance after the final interview now generally takes at least 24 hours, and it will not normally be possible to provide the visa to adoptive parents on the day of the interview.

ACQUIRING U.S. CITIZENSHIP:

The language describing the acquisition of U.S. citizenship for adopted children is currently under review. Until the new language is finalized, please click on the following link for further information: http://travel.state.gov/family/adoption/info/info_457.html.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Specific questions about adoption in Jamaica may be addressed to the U.S. Embassy in Kingston. General questions regarding intercountry adoption may be addressed to the Office of Children’s Issues, U.S. Department of State, CA/OCS/CI, SA-29, 4th Floor, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, toll-free Tel: 1-888-407-4747.

Useful information is also available from several other sources:

Telephone:

  • Toll Free - For information on intercountry adoption and international parental child abduction, call Overseas Citizens Services at 1-888-407-4747. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Callers who are unable to use toll-free numbers, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling 1-202-501-4444.
  • U.S. Department of State Visa Office - recorded information concerning immigrant visas for adopting children, (202)663-1225.
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services - recorded information for requesting immigrant visa application forms, 1-800-870-FORM (3676).

Internet :

  • Adoption Information Flyers: The U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs web site at: http://travel.state.gov/ contains intercountry adoption information flyers like this one and the International Adoptions brochure.
  • Country Specific Information: The State Department has general information about hiring a foreign attorney and authenticating documents that may supplement the country-specific information provided in this flier. In addition, the State Department publishes Country Specific Information for every country in the world, providing information such as location of the U.S. Embassy, health conditions, political situations, and crime reports. If the situation in a country poses a specific threat to the safety and security of American citizens that is not addressed in the CSI for that country, the State Department may issue a Travel Alert alerting U.S. citizens to local security situations. If conditions in a country are sufficiently serious, the State Department may issue a Travel Warning recommending that U.S. citizens avoid traveling to that country. These documents are available on the Internet at: http://travel.state.gov/ or by calling the State Department’s Office of Overseas Citizen Services Toll Free at 1-888-407-4747. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Callers who are unable to use toll-free numbers, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling 1-202-501-4444.
  • USCIS web site - http://uscis.gov/.
Disclaimer: The preceding is intended as a very general guide to assist U.S. citizens who plan to adopt a child from a foreign country and apply for an immigrant visa for the child to come to the United States. Two sets of laws are particularly relevant: 1) the laws of the child’s country of birth govern all activity in that country including the adoptability of individual children as well as the adoption of children in country in general; and 2) U.S. Federal immigration law governs the immigration of the child to the United States.
The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and our current understanding. It does not necessarily reflect the actual state of the laws of a child’s country of birth and is provided for general information only. Moreover, U.S. immigration law, including regulations and interpretation, changes from time to time. This flyer reflects our current understanding of the law as of this date and is not legally authoritative. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.
Prospective adoptive parents are advised to fully research any adoption agency or facilitator they plan to use for adoption services. For U.S.-based agencies, it is suggested that prospective adoptive parents contact the Better Business Bureau and/or the licensing office of the appropriate state government agency in the U.S. state where the agency is located or licensed.
Credits: U.S. Department of State - March 2006