Wednesday, February 11, 2009

New FAQs from USCIS

Hey all, USCIS has put out new FAQs today.
I will list them here, but here is the link too:
http://tinyurl.com/I600A-Guidelines-Update
(or the whole link if you prefer: http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.5af9bb95919f35e66f614176543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=fc6c9b9fd316f110VgnVCM1000004718190aRCRD&vgnextchannel=063807b03d92b010VgnVCM10000045f3d6a1RCRD )
And here is the text:

How to File a Grandfathered Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition, Form I-600A
Q-1: Why is U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issuing this announcement now?
A-1: USCIS is issuing this announcement to clarify the filing process for grandfathered Forms I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition, filed for adoptions from Hague Convention countries where the corresponding Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, has not yet been filed.
Q-2: What is a grandfathered Form I-600A?

A-2: Department of Homeland Security regulations allow only one extension of the approval of a Form I-600A. If that extension is also scheduled to expire, the only alternative is to file a new Form I-600A, with a new filing fee. Generally, a Form I-600A may not be filed after April 1, 2008, for the adoption of a child from a Hague Convention country. Under the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 8, Subpart C, Intercountry Adoption of a Convention Adoptee (8 CFR 204.300(b),) however, a case may continue as an orphan case if a Form I-600A was filed before April 1, 2008. USCIS interprets this provision as permitting prospective adoptive parents whose Form I-600A approval is still in effect, but is about to expire, to file a new Form I-600A, as long as they file the new Form I-600A before the current approval expires. A new Form I-600A that is filed after April 1, 2008, will be considered grandfathered only if the following criteria apply:

  • (a) the new Form I-600A is filed before expiration of a previous period of approval of the extension of Form I-600A; AND
  • (b) the previous extension of approval of Form I-600A, that is about to expire was for a Form I-600A which itself was filed before April 1, 2008; AND
  • (c) no Form I-600 has been filed on the basis of the previous Form I-600A.

Q-3: When can I file my grandfathered Form I-600A?

A-3: USCIS must receive the properly filed application no more than 90 days before the expiration date of the approval of the one-time, no fee “extension” of the original, approved Form I-600A, but before the approval expires. For example, if the “extension” approval is valid until December 31, a grandfathered application may be filed from October 2 until December 31. If the application is filed after December 31, a Form I-800A, Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country, must be filed and the case must be processed through the Hague Adoption Convention procedures.Note: The approval expiration date of a Form I-600A or its “extension” is calculated by adding 18 months to the date found in the “date of completion of advance processing” located in the upper right corner of the Form I-171H or Form I-797c.
Q-4: What does “properly filed” mean?

A-4: The term “properly filed” means that the application is submitted to USCIS with the proper signature(s) and fee(s) as required by the instructions of the Form I-600A. At the time of filing, the applicant must also submit all required documentation, and evidence that his/her application meets the requirements for grandfathering an application as outlined in the second question of this document. Evidence that can be submitted to demonstrate eligibility includes, but is not limited to, a copy of the:

  • Form I-600A Extension Approval Notice for I-600A filed prior to April 1, 2008 Form I-171H, or Form I-797c
  • Acknowledgement Notice for Form I-600A filed prior to April 1, 2008, and/or
  • Fee receipt that was received from USCIS for a Form I-600A filed prior to April 1, 2008
  • It is also necessary for the applicant to submit a written statement, signed under penalty of perjury, attesting that a Form I-600 has not been filed on the application. Where original approval of Form I-600A (filed prior to April 1, 2008) has been issued for more than one child, the prospective adoptive parent would attest that the corresponding number of Forms I-600 had not yet been filed.

Q-5: What about filing the home study? (The Form I-600A instructions say I can submit it within a year after filing the application.)

A-5: Under 8 CFR 204.3, Orphans, a home study may be submitted up to one year after the date of the filing of a Form I-600A. No action can be taken on a Form I-600A, however, until the home study is filed. If the applicant does not file a home study with the new Form I-600A, the new Form I-600A will still be grandfathered, if the applicant files the new Form I-600A before the approval of the prior Form I-600A expires. The new Form I-600A will not be approved, however, until after USCIS has received and reviewed the home study. To avoid delays, the applicant should always submit the new home study with the new Form I-600A. The applicant may, of course, submit a copy of the original home study, so long as it has been updated or amended so that it is current (not more than six months old) when it is submitted.
Q-6: When does the approval validity date start?

A-6: Because the intent of grandfathering the Form I-600A is to maintain validity of an approval in order to continue a transitional case that is already in progress for an adoption, the validity period is not governed by when the home study is submitted to USCIS. The 18 month validity period will begin on the date of expiration of the approval of the original Form I-600A extension. For example, if the validity of approval of the original application expired on May 15, 2008, the “extension” validity of the application began on May 16, 2008. The validity of the grandfathered Form I-600A would, therefore, begin on Nov. 15, 2009 (upon expiration of the extension) and expire 18 months later. Since the new 18-month approval period will extend from the date the earlier approval expired, and not from the date of the decision approving the new Form I-600A, applicants are encouraged to submit all the necessary evidence, including the home study, with the new Form I-600A. Even if the decision is delayed because the home study or other evidence has not yet been submitted, the approval period will still expire 18 months after the earlier approval period. For example, if a Form I-600A approval will expire on Nov. 30, 2008, and an applicant files a new Form I-600A on Sept. 30, 2008, but does not submit the home study until September 30, 2009, the new approval will still expire May 30, 2010.
Q-7: Where can I file a “grandfathered” Form I-600A?

A-7: Grandfathered Forms I-600A are filed at the field office having jurisdiction over the applicant’s current residence. If the applicant has moved to the jurisdiction of a new USCIS office since the approval of the extension of the original application, it is helpful if he/she notifies the previous office of the move. The two offices may then coordinate the transfer of any necessary information concerning the case.
Q-8: If I moved after approval of the Form I-600A and extension is about to expire, where should I file the grandfathered I-600A?

A-8: Grandfathered Forms I-600A are filed at the field office having jurisdiction over the applicant’s current residence. If the field office jurisdiction has changed, it is best to let the previous office know that there has been a change of address because this will save time consolidating the information from both offices.
Q-9: Can I use a Form I-600A approved for one child to apply for the adoption of a second child or third child?

A-9: If the approval of the original I-600A was for more than one child, then a new Form I-600A will be “grandfathered” only for the total number of children for which the original Form I-600A was approved, minus the number of children for whom a Form I-600 has already been filed. For example, if the original Form I-600A was approved for three children, and two Forms I-600 have been filed, the new Form I-600A will be grandfathered only for one additional child. If you ask to be approved for more children than the number approved with the original Form I-600A, and the request is granted, any additional children will have to be from non-Hague countries. The only exception to this limit is if the applicant seeks to adopt a birth sibling of a child who the applicant has already adopted, and seeks to adopt the birth sibling at the same time as the adoption of a child whose Form I-600A is grandfathered. If a birth sibling is located after the total number of children on the grandfathered Forms I-600A have actually immigrated, the birth sibling’s immigration would be governed by the Hague Adoption Convention and 8 CFR 204 subpart C, Intercountry Adoption of a Convention Adoptee.

  • Example 1: Applicant was approved to adopt three children on a grandfathered Form I-600A. Applicant has filed Forms I-600 for two children, Anna and Ben, and they have immigrated. Applicant then files a new Form I-600A to grandfather the one remaining child covered by the earlier Form I-600A. Applicant goes abroad to adopt Chris, whose case is grandfathered. While abroad, David is located. David is Chris’s birth sibling, and Applicant wants to adopt David and Chris on the same trip. Because David is Chris’ birth sibling, and will be adopted on the same trip, Applicant may have the Form I-600A approval amended to allow one additional child.
  • Example 2: Applicant was approved to adopt three children on a grandfathered Form I-600A. Applicant has filed Forms I-600 for two children, Anna and Ben, and they have immigrated. Applicant then files a new Form I-600A to grandfather the one remaining child covered by the earlier Form I-600A. Applicant goes abroad to adopt Chris, whose case is grandfathered. While abroad, David is located. David is not related to Chris, but is Anna’s birth sibling, and Applicant wants to adopt David and Chris on the same trip. Because David is Anna’s birth sibling, and will be adopted on the same trip, Applicant may have the Form I-600A approval amended to allow one additional child.
  • Example 3: Applicant was approved to adopt three children on a grandfathered Form I-600A. Applicant has filed Forms I-600 for two children, Anna and Ben, and they have immigrated. Applicant then files a new Form I-600A to grandfather the one remaining child covered by the earlier Form I-600A. Applicant goes abroad to adopt Chris, whose case is grandfathered. Chris immigrates. After all three children have immigrated, David is located. David is a birth sibling of one of the children already adopted. Applicant has already filed the total number of Forms I-600 permitted, and all of those cases are completed. For this reason, David’s adoption and immigration are governed by the Hague Adoption Convention and the Hague Adoption Convention procedures must be followed in David’s case.

Q-10: Does the new home study need to be compliant with the Hague Adoption Convention?A-10: No. Because the application is “grandfathered” into the Orphan Process, it is also “grandfathered” into all regulations relating to that process. This includes all parts of the Orphan Process. In other words, the home study should comply with the Orphan regulations which can be found in the Code of Federal Regulations at 8 CFR 204.3.
Q-11: Will I be able to use a one-time, no fee extension on this grandfathered Form I-600A?A-11: Yes. To request an extension, prospective adoptive parent(s) must submit a written request to USCIS. The written request must explicitly request a one-time, no fee extension to the current approved Form I-600A. Applicants must also submit an amended/updated home study and any other supporting documentation of any changes in the household. The home study amendment/update must address each issue under Section 204.3(e) of Title 8 of the Code of Federal Regulations, (8 CFR §204.3(e)) and indicate any changes. The home study must also address any changes to answers submitted with the initial Form I-600A and must say whether approval is still recommended.
Q-12: Can the number of children authorized increase when the grandfathered I-600A is filed?

A-12: You may ask for and receive an increase of the number of children that you are approved for. As stated previously, however, the total number of adoptions to which “grandfathering” will apply cannot be increased after April 1, 2008. A new Form I-600A will be grandfathered only for the number of children specified in the original Form I-600A, minus the number of children for which a Form I-600 has already been filed. The only exception, as noted earlier, is for birth siblings who are adopted at the same time as a child whose case is grandfathered. For example, if you were approved for two children before April 1, 2008, and you are approved for five children under a new Form I-600A, and have not filed any Form I-600, the Form I-600A will be grandfathered for two children, but not grandfathered for the other three. The result is that you will be able to file up to two Forms I-600 for children from a Hague Convention country (plus any birth siblings adopted at the same time), but any additional Forms I-600 will have to be for children from a non-Hague Convention country.
Q-13: Does this policy affect the rules of other countries?

A-13: No. This guidance pertains only to the United States transition case rules. It does not address what the country of the prospective adoptive child’s origin may consider to be an appropriate application for its own intercountry adoption processes. Prospective adoptive parents remain subject to the requirements of the child’s country of origin, should that country require that the intercountry adoption be completed under the Hague Adoption Convention.

(That is the end of the USCIS FAQs)


One thing I notice is that it does look as if you are now going to be able to use the I600A for the total # of children you were approved for, as long as you can do it before you run out of renewals. So, for example, DH and I got approved for 2 children in the unlikely chance that China refers twins to us. If they only refer one child to us, and our 4 I600A filings have not been used-up, it looks like we could still use our I600A to adopt a second child. However, if, like us, you are adopting in the NSN track from China, it seems pretty clear that you will run out of I600A renewals before you could adopt a second time, even if you went SNs for your second adoption.

If you have questions feel free to leave a comment and I will try to get them answered.
:)
Di

2 comments:

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chad-roscoe said...

You're very welcome!
:)
Di