Bulgaria: Important Notice Regarding Article 5 Issuance
The Immigrant Visa Unit in Sophia, Bulgaria has determined that, while the Bulgarian entry restrictions for American citizens remain in place, the Embassy can issue Article 5 letters in cases where the initial meeting between the adoptive families and the adopted children is conducted online. Adoptive families must still travel to Bulgaria to complete the adoption process, and attend the final visa interview at the Embassy in person. Once the entry restrictions in Bulgaria for American citizens is lifted, or if the Ministry of Justice halts their support for initial online meetings in place of in-person meetings, the Immigrant Visa Unit will cease this exception to the normal process.
For more information, please read this notification issued by the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues:
July 24, 2020
In response to multiple inquiries regarding how best to advance intercountry adoption cases in Bulgaria at this time, the Office of Children’s Issues and the U.S. Embassy in Sofia have engaged with Bulgaria’s adoption authorities to seek clarification.
The Bulgarian Ministry of Justice has agreed to temporarily allow online socialization visits and communications between prospective adoptive parents and children. Each case must be assessed by the foreign supervised providers and social service agencies. Decisions about online meetings will be made by the Ministry of Justice on a case-by-case basis. In some cases, physical contact may present a health hazard and the only feasible option would be online socialization. In other cases, for example when the child is in foster care, physical contact may be possible. The circumstances of each case will be taken into account as they are assessed and decisions regarding online communications are made. The Ministry does not, however, support prospective adoptive parents using escorts to bring children to the U.S. at the end of the process. Parents are required to travel to pick up their children at the final stage.
The Director for International Adoptions at the Ministry of Justice informed the Embassy in Sofia that prospective adoptive parents may be admitted to Bulgaria as an exception to entry restrictions even before the court gives them custody of their children on the basis of the humanitarian exception in the order issued by the Ministry of Health. This means that parents may travel to Bulgaria for the 5-day contact depending on the individual circumstances of the case. U.S. ASPs may continue to work through their Bulgarian supervised providers in communicating with the Ministry of Justice regarding exceptions to the entry restrictions.
The Embassy in Sofia will issue Article 5 letters based on an online socialization visit as a temporary emergency measure due to the COVID-19 situation, but prospective adoptive parents will have to travel to Bulgaria to complete the IV application and interview process in-person. Parents may ask the Ministry of Justice for special consideration if there are exceptional circumstances that will prevent travel to Bulgaria to pick up children at the end of the process, and the Embassy will work in cooperation with the Ministry’s decision.
If you have any questions regarding this matter you may contact the Embassy in Sofia at IV_Sofia@state.gov.
The Office of Children’s Issues