8 CFR 204.3 - Orphan cases under section 101(b)(1)(F) of the Act (non-Convention cases).

§ 204.3 Orphan cases under section 101(b)(1)(F) of the Act (non-Convention cases).
(a) This section addresses the immigration classification of alien orphans as provided for in section 101(b)(1)(F) of the Act.
(1) Except as provided in paragraph (a)(2) of this section, a child who meets the definition of orphan contained in section 101(b)(1)(F) of the Act is eligible for classification as the immediate relative of a U.S. citizen if:
(i) The U.S. citizen seeking the child's immigration can document that the citizen (and his or her spouse, if any) are capable of providing, and will provide, proper care for an alien orphan; and
(ii) The child is an orphan under section 101(b)(1)(F) of the Act.
A U.S. citizen may submit the documentation necessary for each of these determinations separately or at one time, depending on when the orphan is identified.
(2) Form I-600A or Form I-600 may not be filed under this section on or after the Convention effective date, as defined in 8 CFR 204.301, on behalf of a child who is habitually resident in a Convention country, as defined in 8 CFR 204.301. On or after the Convention effective date, USCIS may approve a Form I-600 on behalf of a child who is habitually resident in a Convention country only if the Form I-600A or Form I-600 was filed before the Convention effective date.
(b) Definitions. As used in this section, the term:
Abandonment by both parents means that the parents have willfully forsaken all parental rights, obligations, and claims to the child, as well as all control over and possession of the child, without intending to transfer, or without transferring, these rights to any specific person(s). Abandonment must include not only the intention to surrender all parental rights, obligations, and claims to the child, and control over and possession of the child, but also the actual act of surrending such rights, obligations, claims, control, and possession. A relinquishment or release by the parents to the prospective adoptive parents or for a specific adoption does not constitute abandonment. Similarly, the relinquishment or release of the child by the parents to a third party for custodial care in anticipation of, or preparation for, adoption does not constitute abandonment unless the third party (such as a governmental agency, a court of competent jurisdiction, an adoption agency, or an orphanage) is authorized under the child welfare laws of the foreign-sending country to act in such a capacity. A child who is placed temporarily in an orphanage shall not be considered to be abandoned if the parents express an intention to retrieve the child, are contributing or attempting to contribute to the support of the child, or otherwise exhibit ongoing parental interest in the child. A child who has been given unconditionally to an orphanage shall be considered to be abandoned.
Adult member of the prospective adoptive parents' household means an individual, other than a prospective adoptive parent, over the age of 18 whose principal or only residence is the home of the prospective adoptive parents. This definition excludes any child of the prospective adoptive parents, whose principal or only residence is the home of the prospective adoptive parents, who reaches his or her eighteenth birthday after the prospective adoptive parents have filed the advanced processing application (or the advanced processing application concurrently with the orphan petition) unless the director has an articulable and substantive reason for requiring an evaluation by a home study preparer and/or fingerprint check.
Advanced processing application means Form I-600A (Application for Advanced Processing of Orphan Petition) completed in accordance with the form's instructions and submitted with the required supporting documentation and the fee as required in 8 CFR 103.7(b)(1). The application must be signed in accordance with the form's instructions by the married petitioner and spouse, or by the unmarried petitioner.
Application is synonymous with advanced processing application.
Competent authority means a court or governmental agency of a foreign-sending country having jurisdiction and authority to make decisions in matters of child welfare, including adoption.
Desertion by both parents means that the parents have willfully forsaken their child and have refused to carry out their parental rights and obligations and that, as a result, the child has become a ward of a competent authority in accordance with the laws of the foreign-sending country.
Disappearance of both parents means that both parents have unaccountably or inexplicably passed out of the child's life, their whereabouts are unknown, there is no reasonable hope of their reappearance, and there has been a reasonable effort to locate them as determined by a competent authority in accordance with the laws of the foreign-sending country.
Foreign-sending country means the country of the orphan's citizenship, or if he or she is not permanently residing in the country of citizenship, the country of the orphan's habitual residence. This excludes a country to which the orphan travels temporarily, or to which he or she travels either as a prelude to, or in conjunction with, his or her adoption and/or immigration to the United States.
Home study preparer means any party licensed or otherwise authorized under the law of the State of the orphan's proposed residence to conduct the research and preparation for a home study, including the required personal interview(s). This term includes a public agency with authority under that State's law in adoption matters, public or private adoption agencies licensed or otherwise authorized by the laws of that State to place children for adoption, and organizations or individuals licensed or otherwise authorized to conduct the research and preparation for a home study, including the required personal interview(s), under the laws of the State of the orphan's proposed residence. In the case of an orphan whose adoption has been finalized abroad and whose adoptive parents reside abroad, the home study preparer includes any party licensed or otherwise authorized to conduct home studies under the law of any State of the United States, or any party licensed or otherwise authorized by the foreign country's adoption authorities to conduct home studies under the laws of the foreign country.
Incapable of providing proper care means that a sole or surviving parent is unable to provide for the child's basic needs, consistent with the local standards of the foreign sending country.
Loss from both parents means the involuntary severance or detachment of the child from the parents in a permanent manner such as that caused by a natural disaster, civil unrest, or other calamitous event beyond the control of the parents, as verified by a competent authority in accordance with the laws of the foreign sending country.
Orphan petition means Form I-600 (Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative). The petition must be completed in accordance with the form's instructions and submitted with the required supporting documentation and, if there is not an advanced processing application approved within the previous 18 months or pending, the fee as required in 8 CFR 103.7(b)(1). The petition must be signed in accordance with the form's instructions by the married petitioner and spouse, or the unmarried petitioner.
Overseas site means the Department of State immigrant visa-issuing post having jurisdiction over the orphan's residence, or in foreign countries in which the Services has an office or offices, the Service office having jurisdiction over the orphan's residence.
Petition is synonymous with orphan petition.
Petitioner means a married United States citizen of any age, or an unmarried United States citizen who is at least 24 years old at the time he or she files the advanced processing application and at least 25 years old at the time he or she files the orphan petition. In the case of a married couple, both of whom are United States citizens, either party may be the petitioner.
Prospective adoptive parents means a married United States citizen of any age and his or her spouse of any age, or an unmarried United States citizen who is at least 24 years old at the time he or she files the advanced processing application and at least 25 years old at the time he or she files the orphan petition. The spouse of the United States citizen may be a citizen or an alien. An alien spouse must be in lawful immigration status if residing in the United States.
Separation from both parents means the involuntary severance of the child from his or her parents by action of a competent authority for good cause and in accordance with the laws of the foreign-sending country. The parents must have been properly notified and granted the opportunity to contest such action. The termination of all parental rights and obligations must be permanent and unconditional.
Sole parent means the mother when it is established that the child is illegitimate and has not acquired a parent within the meaning of section 101(b)(2) of the Act. An illegitimate child shall be considered to have a sole parent if his or her father has severed all parental ties, rights, duties, and obligations to the child, or if his or her father has, in writing, irrevocably released the child for emigration and adoption. This definition is not applicable to children born in countries which make no distinction between a child born in or out of wedlock, since all such children are considered to be legitimate. In all cases, a sole parent must be incapable of providing proper care as that term is defined in this section.
Surviving parent means the child's living parent when the child's other parent is dead, and the child has not acquired another parent within the meaning of section 101(b)(2) of the Act. In all cases, a surviving parent must be incapable of providing proper care as that term is defined in this section.
(c) Supporting documentation for an advanced processing application. The prospective adoptive parents may file an advanced processing application before an orphan is identified in order to secure the necessary clearance to file the orphan petition. Any document not in the English language must be accompanied by a certified English translation.
(1) Required supporting documentation that must accompany the advanced processing application. The following supporting documentation must accompany an advanced processing application at the time of filing:
(i) Evidence of the petitioner's United States citizenship as set forth in § 204.1(g) and, if the petitioner is married and the married couple is residing in the United States, evidence of the spouse's United States citizenship or lawful immigration status;
(ii) A copy of the petitioner's marriage certificate to his or her spouse, if the petitioner is currently married;
(iii) Evidence of legal termination of all previous marriages for the petitioner and/or spouse, if previously married; and
(iv) Evidence of compliance with preadoption requirements, if any, of the State of the orphan's proposed residence in cases where it is known that there will be no adoption abroad, or that both members of the married prospective adoptive couple or the unmarried prospective adoptive parent will not personally see the child prior to, or during, the adoption abroad, and/or that the adoption abroad will not be full and final. Any preadoption requirements which cannot be met at the time the advanced processing application is filed because of operation of State law must be noted and explained when the application is filed. Preadoption requirements must be met at the time the petition is filed, except for those which cannot be met until the orphan arrives in the United States.
(2) Home study. The home study must comply with the requirements contained in paragraph (e) of this section. If the home study is not submitted when the advanced processing application is filed, it must be submitted within one year of the filing date of the advanced processing application, or the application will be denied pursuant to paragraph (h)(5) of this section.
(3) After receipt of a properly filed advanced processing application, USCIS will fingerprint each member of the married prospective adoptive couple or the unmarried prospective adoptive parent, as prescribed in 8 CFR 103.16. USCIS will also fingerprint each additional adult member of the prospective adoptive parents' household, as prescribed in 8 CFR 103.16. USCIS may waive the requirement that each additional adult member of the prospective adoptive parents' household be fingerprinted when it determines that such adult is physically unable to be fingerprinted because of age or medical condition.
(d) Supporting documentation for a petition for an identified orphan. Any document not in the English language must be accompanied by a certified English translation. If an orphan has been identified for adoption and the advanced processing application is pending, the prospective adoptive parents may file the orphan petition at the Service office where the application is pending. The prospective adoptive parents who have an approved advanced processing application must file an orphan petition and all supporting documents within eighteen months of the date of the approval of the advanced processing application. If the prospective adoptive parents fail to file the orphan petition within the eighteen-month period, the advanced processing application shall be deemed abandoned pursuant to paragraph (h)(7) of this section. If the prospective adoptive parents file the orphan petition after the eighteen-month period, the petition shall be denied pursuant to paragraph (h)(13) of this section. Prospective adoptive parents who do not have an advanced processing application approved or pending may file the application and petition concurrently on one Form I-600 if they have identified an orphan for adoption. An orphan petition must be accompanied by full documentation as follows:
(1) Filing an orphan petition after the advanced processing application has been approved. The following supporting documentation must accompany an orphan petition filed after approval of the advanced processing application:
(i) Evidence of approval of the advanced processing application;
(ii) The orphan's birth certificate, or if such a certificate is not available, an explanation together with other proof of identity and age;
(iii) Evidence that the child is an orphan as appropriate to the case:
(A) Evidence that the orphan has been abandoned or deserted by, separated or lost from both parents, or that both parents have disappeared as those terms are defined in paragraph (b) of this section; or
(B) The death certificate(s) of the orphan's parent(s), if applicable;
(C) If the orphan has only a sole or surviving parent, as defined in paragraph (b) of this section, evidence of this fact and evidence that the sole or surviving parent is incapable of providing for the orphan's care and has irrevocably released the orphan for emigration and adoption; and
(iv) Evidence of adoption abroad or that the prospective adoptive parents have, or a person or entity working on their behalf has, custody of the orphan for emigration and adoption in accordance with the laws of the foreign-sending country:
(A) A legible, certified copy of the adoption decree, if the orphan has been the subject of a full and final adoption abroad, and evidence that the unmarried petitioner, or married petitioner and spouse, saw the orphan prior to or during the adoption proceeding abroad; or
(B) If the orphan is to be adopted in the United States because there was no adoption abroad, or the unmarried petitioner, or married petitioner and spouse, did not personally see the orphan prior to or during the adoption proceeding abroad, and/or the adoption abroad was not full and final:
(1) Evidence that the prospective adoptive parents have, or a person or entity working on their behalf has, secured custody of the orphan in accordance with the laws of the foreign-sending country;
(2) An irrevocable release of the orphan for emigration and adoption from the person, organization, or competent authority which had the immediately previous legal custody or control over the orphan if the adoption was not full and final under the laws of the foreign-sending country;
(3) Evidence of compliance with all preadoption requirements, if any, of the State of the orphan's proposed residence. (Any such requirements that cannot be complied with prior to the orphan's arrival in the United States because of State law must be noted and explained); and
(4) Evidence that the State of the orphan's proposed residence allows readoption or provides for judicial recognition of the adoption abroad if there was an adoption abroad which does not meet statutory requirements pursuant to section 101(b)(1)(F) of the Act, because the unmarried petitioner, or married petitioner and spouse, did not personally see the orphan prior to or during the adoption proceeding abroad, and/or the adoption abroad was not full and final.
(2) Filing an orphan petition while the advanced processing application is pending. An orphan petition filed while an advanced processing application is pending must be filed at the Service office where the application is pending. The following supporting documentation must accompany an orphan petition filed while the advanced processing application is pending:
(i) A photocopy of the fee receipt relating to the advanced processing application, or if not available, other evidence that the advanced processing application has been filed, such as a statement including the date when the application was filed;
(ii) The home study, if not already submitted; and
(iii) The supporting documentation for an orphan petition required in paragraph (d)(1) of this section, except for paragraph (d)(1)(i) of this section.
(3) Filing an orphan petition concurrently with the advanced processing application. A petition filed concurrently with the advanced processing application must be submitted on Form I-600, completed and signed in accordance with the form's instructions. (Under this concurrent procedure, Form I-600 serves as both the Forms I-600A and I-600, and the prospective adoptive parents should not file a separate Form I-600A). The following supporting documentation must accompany a petition filed concurrently with the application under this provision:
(i) The supporting documentation for an advanced processing application required in paragraph (c) of this section; and
(ii) The supporting documentation for an orphan petition required in paragraph (d)(1) of this section, except for paragraph (d)(1)(i) of this section.
(e) Home study requirements. For immigration purposes, a home study is a process for screening and preparing prospective adoptive parents who are interested in adopting an orphan from another country. The home study should be tailored to the particular situation of the prospective adoptive parents: for example, a family which previously has adopted children will require different preparation than a family that has no adopted children. If there are any additional adult members of the prospective adoptive parents' household, the home study must address this fact. The home study preparer must interview any additional adult member of the prospective adoptive parents' household and assess him or her in light of the requirements of paragraphs (e)(1), (e)(2)(i), (iii), (iv), and (v) of this section. A home study must be conducted by a home study preparer, as defined in paragraph (b) of this section. The home study, or the most recent update to the home study, must not be more than six months old at the time the home study is submitted to the Service. Only one copy of the home study must be submitted to the Service. Ordinarily, a home study (or a home study and update as discussed above) will not have to be updated after it has been submitted to the Service unless there is a significant change in the household of the prospective adoptive parents such as a change in residence, marital status, criminal history, financial resources, and/or the addition of one or more children or other dependents to the family prior to the orphan's immigration into the United States. In addition to meeting any State, professional, or agency requirements, a home study must include the following:
(1) Personal interview(s) and home visit(s). The home study preparer must conduct at least one interview in person, and at least one home visit, with the prospective adoptive couple or the unmarried prospective adoptive parent. Each additional adult member of the prospective adoptive parents' household must also be interviewed in person at least once. The home study report must state the number of such interviews and visits, and must specify any other contacts with the prospective adoptive parents and any adult member of the prospective adoptive parents' household.
(2) Assessment of the capabilities of the prospective adoptive parents to properly parent the orphan. The home study must include a discussion of the following areas:
(i) Assessment of the physical, mental, and emotional capabilities of the prospective adoptive parents to properly parent the orphan. The home study preparer must make an initial assessment of how the physical, mental, and emotional health of the prospective adoptive parents would affect their ability to properly care for the prospective orphan. If the home study preparer determines that there are areas beyond his or her expertise which need to be addressed, he or she shall refer the prospective adoptive parents to an appropriate licensed professional, such as a physician, psychiatrist, clinical psychologist, or clinical social worker for an evaluation. Some problems may not necessarily disqualify applicants. For example, certain physical limitations may indicate which categories of children may be most appropriately placed with certain prospective adoptive parents. Certain mental and emotional health problems may be successfully treated. The home study must include the home study preparer's assessment of any such potential problem areas, a copy of any outside evaluation(s), and the home study preparer's recommended restrictions, if any, on the characteristics of the child to be placed in the home. Additionally, the home study preparer must apply the requirements of this paragraph to each adult member of the prospective adoptive parents' household.
(ii) Assessment of the finances of the prospective adoptive parents. The financial assessment must include a description of the income, financial resources, debts, and expenses of the prospective adoptive parents. A statement concerning the evidence that was considered to verify the source and amount of income and financial resources must be included. Any income designated for the support of one or more children in the care and custody of the prospective adoptive parents, such as funds for foster care, or any income designated for the support of another member of the household must not be counted towards the financial resources available for the support of a prospective orphan. The Service will not routinely require a detailed financial statement or supporting financial documents. However, should the need arise, the Service reserves the right to ask for such detailed documentation.
(iii) History of abuse and/or violence—
(A) Screening for abuse and violence— 1) Checking available child abuse registries. The home study preparer must ensure that a check of each prospective adoptive parent and each adult member of the prospective adoptive parents' household has been made with available child abuse registries and must include in the home study the results of the checks including, if applicable, a report that no record was found to exist. Depending on the access allowed by the state of proposed residence of the orphan, the home study preparer must take one of the following courses of action:
(i) If the home study preparer is allowed access to information from the child abuse registries, he or she shall make the appropriate checks for each of the prospective adoptive parents and for each adult member of the prospective adoptive parents' household;
(ii) If the State requires the home study preparer to secure permission from each of the prospective adoptive parents and for each adult member of the prospective adoptive parents' household before gaining access to information in such registries, the home study preparer must secure such permission from those individuals, and make the appropriate checks;
(iii) If the State will only release information directly to each of the prospective adoptive parents and directly to the adult member of the prospective adoptive parents' household, those individuals must secure such information and provide it to the home study preparer. The home study preparer must include the results of these checks in the home study;
(iv) If the State will not release information to either the home study preparer or the prospective adoptive parents and the adult members of the prospective adoptive parents' household, this must be noted in the home study; or
(v) If the State does not have a child abuse registry, this must be noted in the home study.
(2) Inquiring about abuse and violence. The home study preparer must ask each prospective adoptive parent whether he or she has a history of substance abuse, sexual or child abuse, or domestic violence, even if it did not result in an arrest or conviction. The home study preparer must include each prospective adoptive parent's response to the questions regarding abuse and violence. Additionally, the home study preparer must apply the requirements of this paragraph to each adult member of the prospective adoptive parents' household.
(B) Information concerning history of abuse and/or violence. If the petitioner and/or spouse, if married, disclose(s) any history of abuse and/or violence as set forth in paragraph (e)(2)(iii)(A) of this section, or if, in the absence of such disclosure, the home study preparer becomes aware of any of the foregoing, the home study report must contain an evaluation of the suitability of the home for adoptive placement of an orphan in light of this history. This evaluation must include information concerning all arrests or convictions or history of substance abuse, sexual or child abuse, and/or domestic violence and the date of each occurrence. A certified copy of the documentation showing the final disposition of each incident, which resulted in arrest, indictment, conviction, and/or any other judicial or administrative action, must accompany the home study. Additionally, the prospective adoptive parent must submit a signed statement giving details including mitigating circumstances, if any, about each incident. The home study preparer must apply the requirements of this paragraph to each adult member of the prospective adoptive parents' household.
(C) Evidence of rehabilitation. If a prospective adoptive parent has a history of substance abuse, sexual or child abuse, and/or domestic violence, the home study preparer may, nevertheless, make a favorable finding if the prospective adoptive parent has demonstrated appropriate rehabilitation. In such a case, a discussion of such rehabilitation which demonstrates that the prospective adoptive parent is and will be able to provide proper care for the orphan must be included in the home study. Evidence of rehabilitation may include an evaluation of the seriousness of the arrest(s), conviction(s), or history of abuse, the number of such incidents, the length of time since the last incident, and any type of counseling or rehabilitation programs which have been successfully completed. Evidence of rehabilitation may also be provided by an appropriate licensed professional, such as a psychiatrist, clinical psychologist, or clinical social worker. The home study report must include all facts and circumstances which the home study preparer has considered, as well as the preparer's reasons for a favorable decision regarding the prospective adoptive parent. Additionally, if any adult member of the prospective adoptive parents' household has a history of substance abuse, sexual or child abuse, and/or domestic violence, the home study preparer must apply the requirements of this paragraph to that adult member of the prospective adoptive parents' household.
(D) Failure to disclose or cooperate. Failure to disclose an arrest, conviction, or history of substance abuse, sexual or child abuse, and/or domestic violence by the prospective adoptive parents or an adult member of the prospective adoptive parents' household to the home study preparer and to the Service, may result in the denial of the advanced processing application or, if applicable, the application and orphan petition, pursuant to paragraph (h)(4) of this section. Failure by the prospective adoptive parents or an adult member of the prospective adoptive parents' household to cooperate in having available child abuse registries in accordance with paragraphs (e)(2)(iii)(A)(1) and (e)(2)(iii)(A)(1)(i) through (e)(2)(iii)(A)(1)(iii) of this section will result in the denial of the advanced processing application or, if applicable, the application and orphan petition, pursuant to paragraph (h)(4) of this section.
(iv) Previous rejection for adoption or prior unfavorable home study. The home study preparer must ask each prospective adoptive parent whether he or she previously has been rejected as a prospective adoptive parent or has been the subject of an unfavorable home study, and must include each prospective adoptive parent's response to this question in the home study report. If a prospective adoptive parent previously has been rejected or found to be unsuitable, the reasons for such a finding must be set forth as well as the reason(s) why he or she is not being favorably considered as a prospective adoptive parent. A copy of each previous rejection and/or unfavorable home study must be attached to the favorable home study. Additionally, the home study preparer must apply the requirements of this paragraph to each adult member of the prospective adoptive parents' household.
(v) Criminal history. The prospective adoptive parents and the adult members of the prospective adoptive parents' household are expected to disclose to the home study preparer and the Service any history of arrest and/or conviction early in the advanced processing procedure. Failure to do so may result in denial pursuant to paragraph (h)(4) of this section or in delays. Early disclosure provides the prospective adoptive parents with the best opportunity to gather and present evidence, and it gives the home study preparer and the Service the opportunity to properly evaluate the criminal record in light of such evidence. When such information is not presented early in the process, it comes to light when the fingerprint checks are received by the Service. By that time, the prospective adoptive parents are usually well into preadoption proceedings of identifying a child and may even have firm travel plans. At times, the travel plans have to be rescheduled while the issues raised by the criminal record are addressed. It is in the best interests of all parties to have any criminal records disclosed and resolved early in the process.
(3) Living accommodations. The home study must include a detailed description of the living accommodations where the prospective adoptive parents currently reside. If the prospective adoptive parents are planning to move, the home study must include a description of the living accommodations where the child will reside with the prospective adoptive parents, if known. If the prospective adoptive parents are residing abroad at the time of the home study, the home study must include a description of the living accommodations where the child will reside in the United States with the prospective adoptive parents, if known. Each description must include an assessment of the suitability of accommodations for a child and a determination whether such space meets applicable State requirements, if any.
(4) Handicapped or special needs orphan. A home study conducted in conjunction with the proposed adoption of a special needs or handicapped orphan must contain a discussion of the prospective adoptive parents' preparation, willingness, and ability to provide proper care for such an orphan.
(5) Summary of the counseling given and plans for post-placement counseling. The home study must include a summary of the counseling given to prepare the prospective adoptive parents for an international adoption and any plans for post-placement counseling. Such preadoption counseling must include a discussion of the processing, expenses, difficulties, and delays associated with international adoptions.
(6) Specific approval of the prospective adoptive parents for adoption. If the home study preparer's findings are favorable, the home study must contain his or her specific approval of the prospective adoptive parents for adoption and a discussion of the reasons for such approval. The home study must include the number of orphans which the prospective adoptive parents may adopt. The home study must state whether there are any specific restrictions to the adoption such as nationality, age, or gender of the orphan. If the home study preparer has approved the prospective parents for a handicapped or special needs adoption, this fact must be clearly stated.
(7) Home study preparer's certification and statement of authority to conduct home studies. The home study must include a statement in which the home study preparer certifies that he or she is licensed or otherwise authorized by the State of the orphan's proposed residence to research and prepare home studies. In the case of an orphan whose adoption was finalized abroad and whose adoptive parents reside abroad, the home study preparer must certify that he or she is licensed or otherwise authorized to conduct home studies under the law of any State of the United States, or authorized by the adoption authorities of the foreign country to conduct home studies under the laws of the foreign country. In every case, this statement must cite the State or country under whose authority the home study preparer is licensed or authorized, the specific law or regulation authorizing the preparer to conduct home studies, the license number, if any, and the expiration date, if any, of this authorization or license.
(8) Review of home study. If the prospective adoptive parents reside in a State which requires the State to review the home study, such a review must occur and be documented before the home study is submitted to the Service. If the prospective adoptive parents reside abroad, an appropriate public or private adoption agency licensed, or otherwise authorized, by any State of the United States to place children for adoption, must review and favorably recommend the home study before it is submitted to the Service.
(9) Home study updates and amendments—
(i) Updates. If the home study is more than six months old at the time it would be submitted to the Service, the prospective adoptive parents must ensure that it is updated by a home study preparer before it is submitted to the Service. Each update must include screening in accordance with paragraphs (e)(2)(iii) (A) and (B) of this section.
(ii) Amendments. If there have been any significant changes, such as a change in the residence of the prospective adoptive parents, marital status, criminal history, financial resources, and/or the addition of one or more children or other dependents to the family, the prospective adoptive parents must ensure that the home study is amended by a home study preparer to reflect any such changes. If the orphan's proposed State of residence has changed, the home study amendment must contain a recommendation in accordance with paragraph (e)(8) of this section, if required by State law. Any preadoption requirements of the new State must be complied with in the case of an orphan coming to the United States to be adopted.
(10) “Grandfather” provision for home study. A home study properly completed in conformance with the regulations in force prior to September 30, 1994, shall be considered acceptable if submitted to the Service within 90 days of September 30, 1994. Any such home study accepted under this “grandfather” provision must include screening in accordance with paragraphs (e)(2)(iii) (A) and (B) of this section. Additionally, any such home study submitted under this “grandfather” provision which is more than six months old at the time of its submission must be amended or updated pursuant to the requirements of paragraph (e)(9) of this section.
(f) State preadoption requirements—
(1) General. Many States have preadoption requirements which, under the Act, must be complied with in every case in which a child is coming to such a State as an orphan to be adopted in the United States.
(2) Child coming to be adopted in the United States. An orphan is coming to be adopted in the United States if he or she will not be or has not been adopted abroad, or if the unmarried petitioner or both the married petitioner and spouse did not or will not personally see the orphan prior to or during the adoption proceeding abroad, and/or if the adoption abroad will not be, or was not, full and final. If the prospective adoptive parents reside in a State with preadoption requirements and they plan to have the child come to the United States for adoption, they must submit evidence of compliance with the State's preadoption requirements to the Service. Any preadoption requirements which by operation of State law cannot be met before filing the advanced processing application must be noted. Such requirements must be met prior to filing the petition, except for those which cannot be met by operation of State law until the orphan is physically in the United States. Those requirements which cannot be met until the orphan is physically present in the United States must be noted.
(3) Special circumstances. If both members of the prospective adoptive couple or the unmarried prospective adoptive parent intend to travel abroad to see the child prior to or during the adoption, the Act permits the application and/or petition, if otherwise approvable, to be approved without preadoption requirements having been met. However, if plans change and both members of the prospective adoptive couple or the unmarried prospective adoptive parent fail to see the child prior to or during the adoption, then preadoption requirements must be met before the immigrant visa can be issued, except for those preadoption requirements that cannot be met until the child is physically in the United States because of operation of State law.
(4) Evidence of compliance. In every case where compliance with preadoption requirements is required, the evidence of compliance must be in accordance with applicable State law, regulation, and procedure.
(g) Where to file. Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, and Form I-600A, Application for Advanced Processing of Orphan Petition, must be filed in accordance with the instructions on the form.
(h) Adjudication and decision—
(1) “Grandfather” provision for advanced processing application and/or orphan petition. All applications and petitions filed under prior regulations which are filed before and are still pending on September 30, 1994, shall be processed and adjudicated under the prior regulations.
(2) Director's responsibility to make an independent decision in an advanced processing application. No advanced processing application shall be approved unless the director is satisfied that proper care will be provided for the orphan. If the director has reason to believe that a favorable home study, or update, or both are based on an inadequate or erroneous evaluation of all the facts, he or she shall attempt to resolve the issue with the home study preparer, the agency making the recommendation pursuant to paragraph (e)(8) of this section, if any, and the prospective adoptive parents. If such consultations are unsatisfactory, the director may request a review and opinion from the appropriate State Government authorities.
(3) Advanced processing application approved.
(i) If the advanced processing application is approved, the prospective adoptive parents shall be advised in writing. The application and supporting documents shall be forwarded to the overseas site where the orphan resides. Additionally, if the petitioner advises the director that he or she intends to travel abroad to file the petition, telegraphic notification shall be sent overseas as detailed in paragraph (j)(1) of this section. The approved application shall be valid for 18 months from its approval date, unless the approval period is extended as provided in paragraph (h)(3)(ii) of this section. During this time, the prospective adoptive parents may file an orphan petition for one orphan without fee. If approved in the home study for more than one orphan, the prospective adoptive parents may file a petition for each of the additional children, to the maximum number approved. If the orphans are siblings, no additional fee is required. If the orphans are not siblings, an additional fee is required for each orphan beyond the first orphan. Approval of an advanced processing application does not guarantee that the orphan petition will be approved.
(ii) If the USCIS Director, or an officer designated by the USCIS Director, determines that the ability of a prospective adoptive parent to timely file a petition has been adversely affected by the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in a foreign country, such Director or designated officer may extend the validity period of the approval of the advance processing request, either in an individual case or for a class of cases. An extension of the validity of the advance processing request may be subject to such conditions as the USCIS Director, or officer designated by the USCIS Director may establish.
(4) Advanced processing application denied for failure to disclose history of abuse and/or violence, or for failure to disclose a criminal history, or for failure to cooperate in checking child abuse registries. Failure to disclose an arrest, conviction, or history of substance abuse, sexual or child abuse, and/or domestic violence, or a criminal history to the home study preparer and to the Service in accordance with paragraphs (e)(2)(iii) (A) and (B) and (e)(2)(v) of this section may result in the denial of the advanced processing application, or if applicable, the application and orphan petition filed concurrently. Failure by the prospective adoptive parents or an adult member of the prospective adoptive parents' household to cooperate in having available child abuse registries checked in accordance with paragraphs (e)(2)(iii)(A)(1) and (e)(2)(iii)(A)(1)(i) through (e)(2)(iii)(A)(1)(iii) of this section will result in the denial of the advanced processing application or, if applicable, the application and orphan petition filed concurrently. Any new application and/or petition filed within a year of such denial will also be denied.
(5) Advanced processing denied for failure to submit home study. If the home study is not submitted within one year of the filing date of the advanced processing application, the application shall be denied. This action shall be without prejudice to a new filing at any time with fee.
(6) Advanced processing application otherwise denied. If the director finds that the prospective adoptive parents have otherwise failed to establish eligibility, the applicable provisions of 8 CFR part 103 regarding a letter of intent to deny, if appropriate, and denial and notification of appeal rights shall govern.
(7) Advanced processing application deemed abandoned for failure to file orphan petition within eighteen months of application's approval date. If an orphan petition is not properly filed within eighteen months of the approval date of the advanced processing application, the application shall be deemed abandoned. Supporting documentation shall be returned to the prospective adoptive parents, except for documentation submitted by a third party which shall be returned to the third party, and documentation relating to the fingerprint checks. The director shall dispose of documentation relating to fingerprint checks in accordance with current policy. Such abandonment shall be without prejudice to a new filing at any time with fee.
(8) Orphan petition approved by a stateside Service office. If the orphan petition is approved by a stateside Service office, the prospective adoptive parents shall be advised in writing, telegraphic notification shall be sent to the immigrant visa-issuing post pursuant to paragraph (j)(3) of this section, and the petition and supporting documents shall be forwarded to the Department of State.
(9) Orphan petition approved by an overseas Service office. If the orphan petition is approved by an overseas Service office located in the country of the orphan's residence, the prospective adoptive parents shall be advised in writing, and the petition and supporting documents shall be forwarded to the immigrant visa-issuing post having jurisdiction for immigrant visa processing.
(10) Orphan petition approved at an immigrant visa-issuing post. If the orphan petition is approved at an immigrant visa-issuing post, the post shall initiate immigrant visa processing.
(11) Orphan petition found to be “not readily approvable” by a consular officer. If the consular officer adjudicating the orphan petition finds that it is “not readily approvable,” he or she shall notify the prospective adoptive parents in his or her consular district and forward the petition, the supporting documents, the findings of the I-604 investigation conducted pursuant to paragraph (k)(1) of this section, and any other relating documentation to the overseas Service office having jurisdiction pursuant to § 100.4(b) of this chapter.
(12) Orphan petition denied: petitioner fails to establish that the child is an orphan. If the director finds that the petitioner has failed to establish that the child is an orphan who is eligible for the benefits sought, the applicable provisions of 8 CFR part 103 regarding a letter of intent to deny and notification of appeal rights shall govern.
(13) Orphan petition denied: petitioner files orphan petition more than eighteen months after the approval of the advanced processing application. If the petitioner files the orphan petition more than eighteen months after the approval date of the advanced processing application, the petition shall be denied. This action shall be without prejudice to a new filing at any time with fee.
(14) Revocation. The approval of an advanced processing application or an orphan petition shall be automatically revoked in accordance with § 205.1 of this chapter, if an applicable reason exists. The approval of an advanced processing application or an orphan petition shall be revoked if the director becomes aware of information that would have resulted in denial had it been known at the time of adjudication. Such a revocation or any other revocation on notice shall be made in accordance with § 205.2 of this chapter.
(i) Child-buying as a ground for denial. An orphan petition must be denied under this section if the prospective adoptive parents or adoptive parent(s), or a person or entity working on their behalf, have given or will given money or other consideration either directly or indirectly to the child's parent(s), agent(s), other individual(s), or entity as payment for the child or as an inducement to release the child. Nothing in this paragraph shall be regarded as precluding reasonable payment for necessary activities such as administrative, court, legal, translation, and/or medical services related to the adoption proceedings.
(j) Telegraphic notifications—
(1) Telegraphic notification of approval of advanced processing application. Unless conditions preclude normal telegraphic transmissions, whenever an advanced processing application is approved in the United States, the director shall send telegraphic notification of the approval to the overseas site if a prospective adoptive parent advises the director that the petitioner intends to travel abroad and file the orphan petition abroad.
(2) Requesting a change in visa-issuing posts. If a prospective adoptive parent is in the United States, he or she may request the director to transfer notification of the approved advanced processing application to another visa-issuing post. Such a request shall be made on Form I-824 (Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition) with the appropriate fee. The director shall send a Visas 37 telegram to both the previously and the newly designated posts. The following shall be inserted after the last numbered standard entry. “To: [insert name of previously designated visa-issuing post or overseas Service office]. Pursuant to the petitioner's request, the Visas 37 cable previously sent to your post/office in this matter is hereby invalidated. The approval is being transferred to the other post/office addressed in this telegram. Please forward the approved advanced processing application to that destination.” Prior to sending such a telegram, the director must ensure that the change in posts does not alter any conditions of the approval.
(3) Telegraphic notification of approval of an orphan petition. Unless conditions preclude normal telegraphic transmissions, whenever a petition is approved by a stateside Service office, the director shall send telegraphic notification of the approval to the immigrant visa-issuing post.
(k) Other considerations—
(1) I-604 investigations. An I-604 investigation must be completed in every orphan case. The investigation must be completed by a consular officer except when the petition is properly filed at a Service office overseas, in which case it must be completed by a Service officer. An I-604 investigation shall be completed before a petition is adjudicated abroad. When a petition is adjudicated by a stateside Service office, the I-604 investigation is normally completed after the case has been forwarded to visa-issuing post abroad. However, in a case where the director of a stateside Service office adjudicating the petition has articulable concerns that can only be resolved through the I-604 investigation, he or she shall request the investigation prior to adjudication. In any case in which there are significant differences between the facts presented in the approved advanced processing application and/or orphan petition and the facts uncovered by the I-604 investigation, the overseas site may consult directly with the appropriate Service office. In any instance where an I-604 investigation reveals negative information sufficient to sustain a denial or revocation, the investigation report, supporting documentation, and petition shall be forwarded to the appropriate Service office for action. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the case, the I-604 investigation shall include, but shall not necessarily be limited to, document checks, telephonic checks, interview(s) with the natural parent(s), and/or a field investigation.
(2) Authority of consular officers. An American consular officer is authorized to approve an orphan petition if the Service has made a favorable determination on the related advanced processing application, and the petitioner, who has traveled abroad to a country with no Service office in order to locate or adopt an orphan, has properly filed the petition, and the petition is approvable. A consular officer, however, shall refer any petition which is “not clearly approvable” for a decision by the Service office having jurisdiction pursuant to § 100.4(b) of this chapter. The consular officer's adjudication includes all aspects of eligibility for classification as an orphan under section 101(b)(1)(F) of the Act other than the issue of the ability of the prospective adoptive parents to furnish proper care to the orphan. However, if the consular officer has a well-founded and substantive reason to believe that the advanced processing approval was obtained on the basis of fraud or misrepresentation, or has knowledge of a change in material fact subsequent to the approval of the advanced processing application, he or she shall consult with the Service office having jurisdiction pursuant to § 100.4(b) of this chapter.
(3) Child in the United States. A child who is in parole status and who has not been adopted in the United States is eligible for the benefits of an orphan petition when all the requirements of sections 101(b)(1)(F) and 204 (d) and (e) of the Act have been met. A child in the United States either illegally or as a nonimmigrant, however, is ineligible for the benefits of an orphan petition.
(4) Liaison. Each director shall develop and maintain liaison with State Government adoption authorities having jurisdiction within his or her jurisdiction, including the administrator(s) of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children, and with other parties with interest in international adoptions. Such parties include, but are not necessarily limited to, adoption agencies, organizations representing adoption agencies, organizations representing adoptive parents, and adoption attorneys.
[59 FR 38881, Aug. 1, 1994; 59 FR 42878, Aug. 19, 1994, as amended at 63 FR 12986, Mar. 17, 1998; 68 FR 46926, Aug. 7, 2003; 72 FR 56853, Oct. 4, 2007; 74 FR 26936, June 5, 2009; 76 FR 53782, Aug. 29, 2011]

Title 8 published on 2014-01-01

no entries appear in the Federal Register after this date.