International Adoption - Italy

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DISCLAIMER: The information in this circular relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is provided for general information only. Questions involving interpretation of specific foreign laws should be addressed to foreign legal counsel.

PLEASE NOTE: Immigrant visas are processed only at the American Consulate General in Naples.

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 licensing office of the Department of Health and Family Services in the state where the agency is located.

GENERAL: The following is a guide for U.S. citizens who are interested in adopting a child in Italy and applying for an immigrant visa for the child to come to the United States. This process involves complex Italian and U.S. legal requirements. U.S. consular officers give each petition careful consideration on a case-by-case basis to ensure that the legal requirements of both countries have been met, for the protection of the prospective adoptive parent(s), the biological parents(s) and the child. Interested U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to contact U.S. consular officials in Italy before formalizing an adoption agreement to ensure that appropriate procedures have been followed which will make it possible for the Consulate in Naples to issue a U.S. immigrant visa for the child.

AVAILABILITY OF CHILDREN FOR ADOPTION: As a result of the extremely low birth rate in Italy, adoption of an Italian child by American citizens, while legally possible, is extremely unlikely. The vast majority of Italian adopting parents adopt children from other countries, particularly in Latin America.

ITALIAN ADOPTION AUTHORITY: The government offices responsible for adoptions in Italy are: Tribunale per i Minorenni di (City of Residence of Adopting Parents)

ITALIAN ADOPTION PROCEDURES: Adopting parents start the adoption procedure by submitting a request called "Declaration of Availability for Adoption" to the Tribunale per i Minorenni (Court for Minors) having jurisdiction over the place of residence of the adopting parents. The Court will request the intervention of the local social services agency to assist and evaluate the couple, prepare the home study, and report the findings to the Court.

AGE AND CIVIL STATUS REQUIREMENTS: The age of adopting parents cannot be less than eighteen years, nor greater than forty years over the age of the adoptee. At the time this flyer was prepared, the Italian Senate was considering a bill to increase the age limit for adopting parents to not greater than forty-five years over the age of the adoptee. Only married couples may adopt children.

ADOPTION AGENCIES AND ATTORNEYS: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has authorized a U.S. private agency, ISS-International Social Service, 291 Broadway, New York, NY 10007, to assist American couples who wish to adopt children in Italy. For a list of Italian attorneys, consult the Embassy's web site at

DOCTORS: The U.S. Embassy and Consulates maintain current lists of doctors and sources for medicines, should you experience health problems while in Italy. You can also consult the Embassy's web site at

ITALIAN DOCUMENTARY REQUIREMENTS: The Court for Minors having jurisdiction of an adoption establishes documentary requirements on a case by case basis.


A Italian child adopted by an American citizen must obtain an immigrant visa before he or she can enter the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident. There are two distinct categories of immigrant visas available to children adopted by American citizens.

A Previously Adopted Child. Section 101(b)(1)(E) of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act defines an "adopted child" as one who was adopted under the age of 16 and who has already resided with, and in the legal custody of, the adoptive parent for at least two years. Parents who can demonstrate that their adopted child meets this requirement may file an I-130 petition with the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) having jurisdiction over their place of residence. Upon approval of the I-130 petition, the parents may apply for an immigrant visa for the child at the U.S. Embassy in Rome. American citizens who believe this category may apply to their adopted child should contact the U.S. Embassy in Rome for more information.

An Orphan. If an adopted child has not resided with the adoptive parent for two years (or if the child has not yet even been adopted) the child must qualify under section 101(b)(1)(F) of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act in order to apply for an immigrant visa. The main requirements of this section are as follows:

The adoptive or prospective adoptive parent must be an American citizen;

The child must be under the age of 161 at the time an I-600 Petition is filed with the INS on his or her behalf;

If the adoptive or prospective adoptive parent is married, his or her spouse must also be a party to the adoption;

If the adoptive or prospective adoptive parent is single, he or she must be at least 25 years of age;

The child must be an orphan, as defined by U.S. regulations. Although the definition of an orphan found in many dictionaries is "A child whose parents are dead," U.S. immigration law and regulations provide for a somewhat broader definition. Children who do not qualify under this definition, however, may not immigrate to the U.S. as an orphan even if legally adopted by an American Citizen. The Department of State encourages Americans to consider if a particular child is an orphan according to U.S. immigration law and regulations before proceeding with an adoption. A detailed description of the orphan definition used by INS can be found on INS's web site at .


I. The Petition.

Adoptive and prospective adoptive parents must obtain approval of a Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative (Form I-600) from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) before they can apply for an immigrant visa on behalf of an orphan. The adjudication of such petitions can be very time-consuming and parents are encouraged to begin the process well in advance.

A prospective adoptive parent may file Form I-600A Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) office having jurisdiction over their place of residence. This form allows the most time-consuming part of the process to be completed in advance, even before the parent has located a child to adopt. In addition, a parent who has an approved I-600A may file an I-600 in person at the U.S. Embassy in Rome .

Detailed information about filing these forms can be found on INS's web site at Americans who have adopted or hope to adopt a child from Italy should request, at the time they file these forms, that INS notify the U.S. Embassy in Rome as soon as the form is approved. Upon receipt of such notification, the Embassy will contact the parents and provide additional instructions on the immigration process. U.S. consular officers may not begin processing an orphan adoption case until they have received formal notification of approval from an INS office in the US.

II. The Orphan Investigation

One part of the petition process that INS cannot complete in advance is the "orphan investigation". An orphan investigation Form I-604 Report on Overseas Orphan Investigation) is required in all orphan adoption cases - even if an I-600 has already been approved - and serves to verify that the child is an orphan as defined by US immigration law. A consular officer performs this investigation at the time of the child's immigrant visa interview.

Italian Embassy - Consular Section
3000 Whitehaven Street, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Tel. (202) 612-4405 or 612-4407
Fax. (202) 518-2141
Web site:

Italy also has Consulates in Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Newark, Philadelphia, and San Francisco.

Street Addresses
American Embassy
Consular Section
Via Vittorio Veneto, 119A
00187 Rome
Tel. [39] (6) 46741
Fax. [39] (6) 4674 2217

American Consulate General
Via Principe Amadeo 2
20121 Milan
Tel. [39] (2) 290 351
Fax. [39] (2) 2900 1165

American Consulate General
Piazza della Repubblica
80122 Naples
Tel. [39] (81) 583 8111
Fax. [39] (81) 761 1869

American Consulate General
Lungarno Amerigo Vespucci 38
50123 Florence
Tel. [39] (55) 239 8276/7/8/9
Fax. [39] (55) 284 088

U.S. Mailing Addresses
American Embassy
PSC 59, Box 18 (CONS)
APO, AE 09624

American Consulate General
PSC 59, (M)
APO, AE 09624

American Consulate General
PSC 810, Box 18
FPO, AE 09619-0002

American Consulate General
PSC 59, Box F
APO, AE 09624

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Prospective adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to consult INS publication M-249, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adoptive Children, as well as the Department of State publication, International Adoptions.

QUESTIONS: Specific questions regarding adoption in Italy may be addressed to the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy or Consulates in Italy. You may also contact the Office of Children's Issues, U.S. Department of State, Room L-127, SA-1, 2401 E Street, NW, Washington, DC 20522, telephone (202) 736-7000 with specific questions.

Information is also available 24 hours a day from several sources:

Telephone - Office of Children's Issues - recorded information regarding changes in adoption procedures and general information, (202) 736-7000.- State Department Visa Office - recorded information concerning immigrant visas for adoptive children, (202) 663-1225.- Immigration and Naturalization Service - recorded information for requesting immigrant visa application forms, 1-800-870-FORM (3676).

Automated fax - contains the full text of the office's international adoption information flyers and general information brochure, International Adoptions. From the telephone on your fax machine, call (202) 647-3000.

Internet - the Consular Affairs web site, at: contains international adoption information flyers and the International Adoptions brochure.

INS web site- contains has information on foreign adoptions and U.S. visa requirements for adoptive children, as well as INS publication M-249.

Other information:

Consular Information Sheets - published by the State Department and available for every country in the world, providing information such as the location of the U.S. Embassy, health conditions, political situations, and crime reports. The information is available 24 hours a day by calling the State Department's Office of Overseas Citizens Services at (202) 647-5225. The recordings are updated as new information becomes available, and are also accessible through the automated fax machine and the internet web site, as above.
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