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INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTION


MONTENEGRO

August 2006

DISCLAIMER:
The following 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.

PLEASE NOTE:
The United States recognized Montenegro as an independent state on June 12, 2006, following the June 3 declaration of independence by the Montenegrin Parliament.  This flyer is based primarily on current Serbian law for intercountry adoption and will be updated if Montenegro changes its laws or procedures on intercountry adoption.

The United States has an Embassy in Belgrade, Serbia and a presence in Podgorica, Montenegro.  Podgorica provides only limited consular services to American citizens.  The U.S. Embassy in Belgrade provides all visa services, including immigrant visa services, to Montenegrin citizens at this time.

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.  These statistics do not distinguish between visas issued to Serbians and Montenegrins:

Fiscal Year       Number of Immigrant Visas Issued
FY 2005                                       7
FY 2004                                       1
FY 2003                                       7
FY 2002                                       8

ADOPTION AUTHORITY IN MONTENEGRO:

Ministry of Social Affairs
Attn: Svjetlana Sovilj
Rimski trg BB
81000 Podgorica
Phone: +381 81 482-451
Fax: +381 81 234-256
www.minrada.vlada.cg.yu

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS FOR ADOPTIVE PARENTS:
  Montenegrin adoption law requires at least one of the prospective adoptive parents to be between 30 and 60 years of age.  Prospective parents must have been married for at least three years when beginning the adoption process.  Unmarried persons and same-sex couples are not permitted to adopt.

Prospective adoptive parents will be disqualified from adopting they have been diagnosed with are mental disorders infectious diseases.

Adoptive parents with other serious health conditions must demonstrate to the Ministry of Social Affairs their ability to raise the child.

RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS: There are no residency requirements for adoption.  However, current law gives priority to prospective parents who are of Montenegrin origin.

TIME FRAME:
The length of the adoption process varies greatly.  If prospective adoptive parents have located a child prior to their arrival to Montenegro, the whole process may be finished within four weeks.
 
ADOPTION AGENCIES AND ATTORNEYS:  There are no adoption agencies in Montenegro.  Adoptive parents must work directly with the Ministry of Social Affairs.  However, U.S. citizens considering adopting from Serbia may still choose to work with an adoption agency to assist them with the U.S. portions of the process.

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.  Please see Important Notice Regarding Adoption Agents and Facilitators at the Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs web site travel.state.gov.

ADOPTION FEES IN MONTENEGRO:
  There are no government fees for adoption.  The only fee to be paid is for the issuance of the passport for the adopted child. Currently, both Serbia and Montenegro still use passports issued by the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The passport fee is around $15 depending on the exchange rate.

ADOPTION PROCEDURES:
  Adoptive parents must first contact Ministry of Social Affairs of Montenegro.  They must then submit the required documentation listed below.

If determined eligible by the Ministry of Social Affairs, prospective adoptive parents will be instructed to contact the appropriate local authority.  Each municipality in Montenegro has its own authority called Center for Social Work (Centar za socijalni rad) which is part of the Ministry of Social Affairs.  The Ministry will guide prospective parents to a local authority depending on the number of children awaiting adoption in that area. 

Local authorities will attempt to match prospective parents with a child.  When a match is made and the parents inform the local authorities to that affect, local authorities will schedule "Solemn Ceremony of Adoption (usually within few days).  Local authorities will then erase the names of the biological parents from the registry books and make a new entry with the names of the adopting parents.  This is also the time when the child's name can be formally changed, including the child's first name.  Authorities will also issues an Adoption Decree (Resenje o usvojenju) which includes child's history and details on the adoption process, Birth certificate and passport.

DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR ADOPTION IN MONTENEGRO:
  1. Written request signed by both prospective adoptive parents;
  2. Parents’ Birth Certificates;
  3. Marriage Certificate;
  4. Proof of Citizenship (passport);
  5. Passport copies;
  6. Evidence of employment and income;
  7. Evidence of assets;
  8. Medical certificate including a psychiatrist's report on the parents' suitability for the adoption process;
  9. Criminal records/Police certificates.
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.travel.state.gov/law/info/judicial/judicial_701.html

MONTENEGRIN GOVERNMENT OFFICES IN THE UNITED STATES:

Montenegro has not yet established an embassy or consulate in the United States.  The Serbian Embassy is located at:

2134 Kalorama Rd, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Tel: (202) 332-0333
Fax: (202) 332-3933
Fax (Consular): (202) 332-5974
http://www.yuembusa.org/

Serbia also has a Consulate General in Chicago.

                    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 “Intercountry 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. PRESENCE IN MONTENEGRO:
Americans living or traveling abroad are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Government Office through the State Department’s travel registration website, 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.  In Montenegro, the Consular Section is located at:

Ljubljanska bb
81000 Podgorica
Montenegro
Switchboard: +381 81 225 417
Fax: +381 81 241 358
E-mail: [email protected]
http://podgorica.usconsulate.gov/

APPLYING FOR A VISA AT THE U.S. EMBASSY IN BELGRADE, SERBIA:  Immigrant visa appointments for Montenegrin citizens, including adopted orphans, are scheduled in advance by telephone at the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade.  Please call (+381 11) 361 9344 x4660, x4810, x4662 between 3:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. to schedule an appointment.  Post can generally issue visas for adopted orphans the same day.
 
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: ../info/info_457.html.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:
Specific questions about adoption in Montenegro may be addressed to the U.S. Government Office in Podgorica. 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.
• Consular Information Sheets: The State Department has general information about hiring a foreign attorney and authenticating documents that may supplement the country-specific information provided in this flyer. In addition, the State Department publishes Consular Information Sheets (CISes) 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 CIS for that country, the State Department may issue a Public Announcement 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/.