Child and Family Matters

This section provides an overview of the intercountry adoption process, two-parent consent requirements, and Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) information.

All appointments for Consular Reports of Birth Abroad (CRBA) in Laos will be made only after receiving the application by email at CONSLAO@State.gov in order to provide better service to our citizens. Each individual document must be saved in ONE file. You may attach multiple files for different documents but should email all required documents in ONE single email. The system reduces appointment wait time and helps families fully prepare for their citizenship appointment at the Embassy. Once the determination is made that all required documents are complete we will contact you via email to schedule an appointment. Please follow the below steps on how to apply for your child’s CRBA.

Please Note:

Documents required via email to schedule an appointment:

Note: You must bring ALL original documents of which copies were emailed with the CRBA application on the day of your interview.

  1. Parents’ passports.
  2. Completed DS-2029 (Application for Consular Report of Birth Aboard).
  3. Completed DS-11 with the child’s passport photo (current photo, size 5×5 cm, white background) (submit only if applying for a child’s passport at the same time of CRBA application). Please consult Embassy Vientiane’s webpage for additional documentary requirements for a passport.
  4. Birth certificate from the hospital with its English translation.
  5. Official local birth certificate for the child (Issued at the district level if the child was born in Laos) with its English translation.
  6. Official local birth certificate for the child (Issued by the local municipality of the province that the child was born in, if the child was born in Thailand) with its English translation.
  7. Hospital records book.
  8. Marriage certificate for parents, if married.
  9. Evidence of relationship between mother and child (photos showing the mother was pregnant, hospital records)
  10. Evidence supporting relationship between the parents (e.g. photos, etc.)
  11. Two Preferred Interview Dates (Tuesdays between 08:00 AM and 11:00 AM only)

Optional Documents:

  1. A completed DS – 5507: Affidavit of Physical Presence, Parentage and Support (submit only if child was born out of wedlock and one parent is not present during the submission of CRBA application)
  2. A completed DS – 3053: The Parental Consent form (submit only if one parent is not present during the submission of the passport application for the minor).
  3. A completed DS – 5525: The Statement of Exigent/Special Family Circumstances form (submit only if one parent is unwilling or cannot provide consent).

Out of wedlock birth to a U.S. Citizen Father:

  • If the parents were not legally married at the time of the child’s birth and the U.S. citizen father is transmitting U.S. citizenship, he must complete Section B on page 3 of Form DS- 2029. The section must be notarized in the U.S. (if not appearing) or at the U.S. Embassy during the appointment. 

Evidence of Physical Presence in the United States:

  • The U.S. Embassy requires applicants to complete page 2 of the CRBA application (DS-2029) accurately. The parent transmitting U.S. citizenship to his or her child should list the exact dates of physical presence in the United States. The dates should correspond with the arrival and departure stamps to and from the United States in the parent’s passport(s). Any travel outside the United States, including vacations and short visits abroad, should be listed on the form. If this section of the application is missing or incomplete, it may delay CRBA processing.
  • In the event the child has one U.S. citizen parent and one foreign national parent, proof of the U.S. citizen parent’s physical presence (i.e. the number of days the U.S. citizen parent was demonstrably in the United States) is required. In such cases, the U.S. citizen parent will need to show five years of cumulative physical presence in the U.S., two of which must have been after the age of 14. Examples of items that show physical presence are entry/exit stamps in current and previous passports, school/college transcripts, income tax returns with W-2’s, social security earnings history, pay stubs, military/government orders, etc. Applicants are encouraged to provide as much evidence as possible. If the provided evidence is deemed insufficient you will receive email notification and a timeline to submit further evidence/documentation before an appointment can be scheduled.
  • If the U.S. citizen parent cannot clearly demonstrate the required 5 years of physical presence, then the application cannot be approved and any associated passport application will be denied. In such cases, the applicants are not eligible for a refund. Applicants are strongly urged to review their own history of physical presence in the United States before applying.
  • Evidence of physical presence is not required if BOTH parents were U.S. citizens before the birth of the child. However, evidence of current or prior residence in the United States is required for one of the two parents.
  • If the U.S. citizen parent does not meet the transmission requirements and the child is less than 18 years old, the child may be eligible for expeditious naturalization under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

DNA Examinations:

  • When evidence is not sufficient to conclusively determine a biological relationship between the U.S. citizen parent and the child, the Consular Officer may recommend DNA testing to most effectively establish a biological relationship. DO NOT conduct independent DNA exams. Only DNA test results from Department of State approved laboratories and coordinated through the Embassy can be used to determine a genetic relationship for citizenship purposes. If you are required to obtain a DNA exam, the information will be provided to you at your appointment. All fees for DNA testing will be paid by the applicant.

Fees: Non-refundable CRBA and Passport application fee

Fees must be paid in cash at your appointment date in Lao Kip (LAK) or USD

–  USD 100 for CRBA ONLY
–  USD 215 for CRBA + Minor passport BOOK
–  USD 230 for CRBA + Minor passport BOOK and CARD

Exchange rates vary; please consult this website for the current consular exchange rate.

What to Expect Next:

  • Upon receipt of the application via email the American Citizen Services Unit will review the documents and try to schedule an appointment on one of the preferred dates. The confirmed appointment date and time will be sent to the parent’s email addresses that they sent their initial application from.
  • ONLY the applicant child and both parents should be present at the interview. The applicant child MUST appear, NO EXCEPTIONS. 
  • Please arrive at the Consular Section 15 minutes prior to the appointment. The appointment time is not the same as the interview time. Interview times depend on the number of applicants and the length of the interviews.
  • Bring your appointment confirmation email and valid government issued photo identification for both parents.
  • Inside the Consular Section all applicants will pass through a metal detector and will undergo an extensive security screening. Cameras, mobile phones, smart watches, laptops and other small electronic devices with features such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, audio and video recording, or global positioning system (GPS) are not allowed inside the Embassy. Luggage is also not allowed. Strollers, diaper bags, baby foods and formulas will be screened.
  • Bring ALL original documents of which copies were emailed with the CRBA application.

Additional Information:

  • If an appointment needs to be rescheduled, the parents must notify the American Citizen Services Unit by responding to the appointment confirmation email.
  • Applicants who fail to appear and/or notify the American Citizen Services Unit will need to restart the application process from the beginning and the pending case will be closed. All fees are non-refundable.
  • Please be PREPARED! If your application is incomplete on the day of your appointment, you may be asked to schedule a new appointment or start the process over from the beginning.

Retrieval of the CRBA and U.S. passport:

Your Consular Report of Birth Abroad and new passport will be returned to you in person. We will contact you when they are ready to pick up.

Please note: the American Citizen Services unit cannot pre-adjudicate CRBA applications, pre-screen documents or answer specific questions via phone/email until we receive the application package via email.

Applicants should plan to spend at least an hour at the Embassy on the day of their appointment. Please note that receiving and appearing at an appointment does not necessarily mean the application(s) will be approved.

 

Decree No. 198/PM governing marriage between foreigners and Lao citizens went into effect on December 19, 1994.  Enforcement of the decree began in late May 1995. The decree applies to all foreign citizens who wish to marry a Lao citizen. Lao marriage regulations have no provision for marriages between two foreigners, and the Lao government will not issue a marriage certificate to two foreigners. A detailed explanation on how to obtain a Lao marriage certificate can be found on this webpage (PDF 108 KB). The explanation is accurate to the best of the Embassy’s knowledge, but procedures, timelines and fees are subject to change without notice.

The Lao government will not issue a marriage certificate if the correct procedures have not been followed. Any attempt to circumvent Lao law governing marriage between foreigners and Lao citizens may result in deportation of the foreigner and denial of permission to reenter Laos.

Lao authorities advise American citizens interested in marrying Lao citizens to begin the process by contacting the Lao Embassy in Washington D.C. The marriage application forms for Lao citizens who wish to marry foreigners are available in Provincial offices. Lao citizens residing in Vientiane Capital can obtain the forms in the Municipality Administration Office.

Affidavit that you are legally free to marry

Lao law requires all foreigners who marry Lao nationals in Laos, to first prepare a sworn Affidavit of Marriage: Marriage Affidavit (Click here for PDF) (PDF 117 KB). Then, the affidavit(s) must be notarized by their own country’s embassy, affirming that they are legally free to marry.

Fee: $50 for the affidavit of marriage; an additional $50 for the second affidavit. Please click here to make an appointment.

A Lao marriage certificate can be used to file an I-130 immigrant visa petition for a spouse. For more information on the petition process, please visit the website for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

This section provides an overview of the intercountry adoption process. The process varies greatly, as it is governed by the laws of the countries where the adoptive parents and the child reside (which in the case of the United States means both federal and state law), and also in which of these locations the legal adoption is finalized. Additionally, if the child’s home country is a party to the Hague Adoption Convention, the Hague processes of both countries must be followed. Prospective adoptive parents should consider all of these factors when evaluating what to expect.

Why Adopt?

“The child, for the full and harmonious development of his or her personality, should grow up in a family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding. … [I]ntercountry adoption may offer the advantage of a permanent family to a child for whom a suitable family cannot be found in his or her State of origin.”

-Hague Adoption Convention, Preamble

Every child benefits from a loving home in deeply profound ways.  Intercountry adoption has made this permanently possible for hundreds of thousands of children worldwide.  When children cannot remain with a relative, and new parents within their communities cannot be found, intercountry adoption opens another pathway to children to receive the care, security, and love that a permanent family can provide.

Some additional resources:

Child Welfare Information Gateway – A service of the Children’s Bureau, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Medline Plus – A service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health

A Healthy Beginning: Important Information for Parents of Internationally Adopted Children (PDF 167KB) – a brochure from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“My Administration remains committed to helping every child find a loving home.” – President Barack Obama, Presidential Proclamation of National Adoption Month 2012.

 Who can adopt? 

To adopt a child from another country and bring that child to live in the United States, you must first be found eligible to adopt under U.S. law.  The federal agency that makes this determination is U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), part of the Department of Homeland Security.  You may not bring an adopted child (or a child for which you have gained legal custody for the purpose of immigration and adoption) into the United States until USCIS determines that you are eligible to adopt from another country.

National Requirements

You must meet certain requirements to bring a foreign-born child whom you’ve adopted to the United States.  Some of the basic requirements include the following:

1.    You must be a U.S. Citizen.

2.    If you are unmarried, you must be at least 25 years old.

3.    If you are married, you must jointly adopt the child (even if you are separated but not divorced), and your spouse must also be either a U.S. citizen or in legal status in the United States.

4.    You must meet certain requirements that will determine your suitability as a prospective adoptive parent, including criminal background checks, fingerprinting, and a home study.

State Requirements

In addition to qualifying to adopt under U.S. law, you must also meet your home state’s requirements for prospective adoptive parents.  Learn more about individual state requirements on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website.

Foreign Country Requirements

Each country has its own requirements for adopting parents.  These are explained in the Country Information section of this website.