e-CFR banner

Home
gpo.gov
govinfo.gov

e-CFR Navigation Aids

Browse

Simple Search

Advanced Search

 — Boolean

 — Proximity

 

Search History

Search Tips

Corrections

Latest Updates

User Info

FAQs

Agency List

Incorporation By Reference

eCFR logo

Related Resources

 

Electronic Code of Federal Regulations

e-CFR data is current as of March 26, 2020

Title 8Chapter ISubchapter BPart 204 → Subpart C


Title 8: Aliens and Nationality
PART 204—IMMIGRANT PETITIONS


Subpart C—Intercountry Adoption of a Convention Adoptee


Contents
§204.300   Scope of this subpart.
§204.301   Definitions.
§204.302   Role of service providers.
§204.303   Determination of habitual residence.
§204.304   Improper inducement prohibited.
§204.305   State preadoption requirements.
§204.306   Classification as an immediate relative based on a Convention adoption.
§204.307   Who may file a Form I-800A or Form I-800.
§204.308   Where to file Form I-800A or Form I-800.
§204.309   Factors requiring denial of a Form I-800A or Form I-800.
§204.310   Filing requirements for Form I-800A.
§204.311   Convention adoption home study requirements.
§204.312   Adjudication of the Form I-800A.
§204.313   Filing and adjudication of a Form I-800.
§204.314   Appeal.

Source: 72 FR 56854, Oct. 4, 2007, unless otherwise noted.

§204.300   Scope of this subpart.

(a) Convention adoptees. This subpart governs the adjudication of a Form I-800A or Form I-800 for a Convention adoptee under section 101(b)(1)(G) of the Act. The provisions of this subpart enter into force on the Convention effective date, as defined in 8 CFR 204.301.

(b) Orphan cases. On or after the Convention effective date, no Form I-600A or I-600 may be filed under section 101(b)(1)(F) of the Act and 8 CFR 204.3 in relation to the adoption of a child who is habitually resident in a Convention country. If a Form I-600A or Form I-600 was filed before the Convention effective date, the case will continue to be governed by 8 CFR 204.3, as in effect before the Convention effective date.

(c) Adopted children. This subpart does not apply to the immigrant visa classification of adopted children, as defined in section 101(b)(1)(E) of the Act. For the procedures that govern classification of adopted children as defined in section 101(b)(1)(E) of the Act, see 8 CFR 204.2.

§204.301   Definitions.

The definitions in 22 CFR 96.2 apply to this subpart C. In addition, as used in this subpart C, the term:

Abandonment means:

(1) That a child's parent has willfully forsaken all parental rights, obligations, and claims to the child, as well as all custody of the child without intending to transfer, or without transferring, these rights to any specific individual(s) or entity.

(2) The child's parent must have actually surrendered such rights, obligations, claims, control, and possession.

(3) That a parent's knowledge that a specific person or persons may adopt a child does not void an abandonment; however, a purported act of abandonment cannot be conditioned on the child's adoption by that specific person or persons.

(4) That if the parent(s) entrusted the child to a third party for custodial care in anticipation of, or preparation for, adoption, the third party (such as a governmental agency, a court of competent jurisdiction, an adoption agency, or an orphanage) must have been authorized under the Convention country's child welfare laws to act in such a capacity.

(5) That, if the parent(s) entrusted the child to an orphanage, the parent(s) did not intend the placement to be merely temporary, with the intention of retaining the parent-child relationship, but that the child is abandoned if the parent(s) entrusted the child permanently and unconditionally to an orphanage.

(6) That, although a written document from the parent(s) is not necessary to prove abandonment, if any written document signed by the parent(s) is presented to prove abandonment, the document must specify whether the parent(s) who signed the document was (were) able to read and understand the language in which the document is written. If the parent is not able to read or understand the language in which the document is written, then the document is not valid unless the document is accompanied by a declaration, signed by an identified individual, establishing that that identified individual is competent to translate the language in the document into a language that the parent understands and that the individual, on the date and at the place specified in the declaration, did in fact read and explain the document to the parent in a language that the parent understands. The declaration must also indicate the language used to provide this explanation. If the person who signed the declaration is an officer or employee of the Central Authority (but not of an agency or entity authorized to perform a Central Authority function by delegation) or any other governmental agency, the person must certify the truth of the facts stated in the declaration. Any other individual who signs a declaration must sign the declaration under penalty of perjury under United States law.

Adoption means the judicial or administrative act that establishes a permanent legal parent-child relationship between a minor and an adult who is not already the minor's legal parent and terminates the legal parent-child relationship between the adoptive child and any former parent(s).

Adult member of the household means:

(1) Any individual other than the applicant, who has the same principal residence as the applicant and who had reached his or her 18th birthday on or before the date a Form I-800A is filed; or

(2) Any person who has not yet reached his or her 18th birthday before the date a Form I-800A is filed, or who does not actually live at the same residence, but whose presence in the residence is relevant to the issue of suitability to adopt, if the officer adjudicating the Form I-800A concludes, based on the facts of the case, that it is necessary to obtain an evaluation of how that person's presence in the home affects the determination whether the applicant is suitable as the adoptive parent(s) of a Convention adoptee.

Applicant means the U.S. citizen (and his or her spouse, if any) who has filed a Form I-800A under this subpart C. The applicant may be an unmarried U.S. citizen who is at least 24 years old when the Form I-800A is filed, or a married U.S. citizen of any age and his or her spouse of any age. Although the singular term “applicant” is used in this subpart, the term includes both a married U.S. citizen and his or her spouse.

Birth parent means a “natural parent” as used in section 101(b)(1)(G) of the Act.

Central Authority means the entity designated as such under Article 6(1) of the Convention by any Convention country or, in the case of the United States, the United States Department of State. Except as specified in this Part, “Central Authority” also means, solely for purposes of this Part, an individual who or entity that is performing a Central Authority function, having been authorized to do so by the designated Central Authority, in accordance with the Convention and the law of the Central Authority's country.

Competent authority means a court or governmental agency of a foreign country that has jurisdiction and authority to make decisions in matters of child welfare, including adoption.

Convention means the Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption, opened for signature at The Hague on May 29, 1993.

Convention adoptee means a child habitually resident in a Convention country who is eligible to immigrate to the United States on the basis of a Convention adoption.

Convention adoption, except as specified in 8 CFR 204.300(b), means the adoption, on or after the Convention effective date, of an alien child habitually resident in a Convention country by a U.S. citizen habitually resident in the United States, when in connection with the adoption the child has moved, or will move, from the Convention country to the United States.

Convention country means a country that is a party to the Convention and with which the Convention is in force for the United States.

Convention effective date means the date on which the Convention enters into force for the United States as announced by the Secretary of State under 22 CFR 96.17.

Custody for purposes of emigration and adoption exists when:

(1) The competent authority of the country of a child's habitual residence has, by a judicial or administrative act (which may be either the act granting custody of the child or a separate judicial or administrative act), expressly authorized the petitioner, or an individual or entity acting on the petitioner's behalf, to take the child out of the country of the child's habitual residence and to bring the child to the United States for adoption in the United States.

(2) If the custody order shows that custody was given to an individual or entity acting on the petitioner's behalf, the custody order must indicate that the child is to be adopted in the United States by the petitioner.

(3) A foreign judicial or administrative act that is called an adoption but that does not terminate the legal parent-child relationship between the former parent(s) and the adopted child and does not create the permanent legal parent-child relationship between the petitioner and the adopted child will be deemed a grant of custody of the child for purposes of this part, but only if the judicial or administrative act expressly authorizes the custodian to take the child out of the country of the child's habitual residence and to bring the child to the United States for adoption in the United States by the petitioner.

Deserted or desertion means that a child's parent has willfully forsaken the child and has refused to carry out 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 Convention country.

Disappeared or Disappearance means that a child's parent has unaccountably or inexplicably passed out of the child's life so that the parent's whereabouts are unknown, there is no reasonable expectation of the parent's reappearance, and there has been a reasonable effort to locate the parent as determined by a competent authority in accordance with the laws of the Convention country. A stepparent who under the definition of “Parent” in this section is deemed to be a child's legal parent, may be found to have disappeared if it is established that the stepparent either never knew of the child's existence, or never knew of their legal relationship to the child.

Home study preparer means a person (whether an individual or an agency) authorized under 22 CFR part 96 to conduct home studies for Convention adoption cases, either as a public domestic authority, an accredited agency, a temporarily accredited agency, approved person, supervised provider, or exempted provider and who (if not a public domestic authority) holds any license or other authorization that may be required to conduct adoption home studies under the law of the jurisdiction in which the home study is conducted.

Incapable of providing proper care means that, in light of all the relevant circumstances including but not limited to economic or financial concerns, extreme poverty, medical, mental, or emotional difficulties, or long term-incarceration, the child's two living birth parents are not able to provide for the child's basic needs, consistent with the local standards of the Convention country.

Irrevocable consent means a document which indicates the place and date the document was signed by a child's legal custodian, and which meets the other requirements specified in this definition, in which the legal custodian freely consents to the termination of the legal custodian's legal relationship with the child. If the irrevocable consent is signed by the child's birth mother or any legal custodian other than the birth father, the irrevocable consent must have been signed after the child's birth; the birth father may sign an irrevocable consent before the child's birth if permitted by the law of the child's habitual residence. This provision does not preclude a birth father from giving consent to the termination of his legal relationship to the child before the child's birth, if the birth father is permitted to do so under the law of the country of the child's habitual residence.

(1) To qualify as an irrevocable consent under this definition, the document must specify whether the legal custodian is able to read and understand the language in which the consent is written. If the legal custodian is not able to read or understand the language in which the document is written, then the document does not qualify as an irrevocable consent unless the document is accompanied by a declaration, signed, by an identified individual, establishing that that identified individual is competent to translate the language in the irrevocable consent into a language that the parent understands, and that the individual, on the date and at the place specified in the declaration, did in fact read and explain the consent to the legal custodian in a language that the legal custodian understands. The declaration must also indicate the language used to provide this explanation. If the person who signed the declaration is an officer or employee of the Central Authority (but not of an agency or entity authorized to perform a Central Authority function by delegation) or any other governmental agency, the person must certify the truth of the facts stated in the declaration. Any other individual who signs a declaration must sign the declaration under penalty of perjury under United States law.

(2) If more than one individual or entity is the child's legal custodian, the consent of each legal custodian may be recorded in one document, or in an additional document, but all documents, taken together, must show that each legal custodian has given the necessary irrevocable consent.

Legal custodian means the individual who, or entity that, has legal custody of a child, as defined in 22 CFR 96.2.

Officer means a USCIS officer with jurisdiction to adjudicate Form I-800A or Form I-800 or a Department of State officer with jurisdiction, by delegation from USCIS, to grant either provisional or final approval of a Form I-800.

Parent means any person who is related to a child as described in section 101(b)(1)(A), (B), (C), (D), (E), (F), or (G) and section 101(b)(2) of the Act, except that a stepparent described in section 101(b)(1)(B) of the Act is not considered a child's parent, solely for purposes of classification of the child as a Convention adoptee, if the petitioner establishes that, under the law of the Convention country, there is no legal parent-child relationship between a stepparent and stepchild. This definition includes a stepparent if the stepparent adopted the child, or if the stepparent, under the law of the Convention country, became the child's legal parent by marrying the other legal parent. A stepparent who is a legal parent may consent to the child's adoption, or may be found to have abandoned or deserted the child, or to have disappeared from the child's life, in the same manner as would apply to any other legal parent.

Petitioner means the U.S. citizen (and his or her spouse, if any) who has filed a Form I-800 under this subpart C. The petitioner may be an unmarried U.S. citizen who is at least 25 years old when the Form I-800 is filed, or a married U.S. citizen of any age and his or her spouse of any age. Although the singular term “petitioner” is used in this subpart, the term includes both a married U.S. citizen and his or her spouse.

Sole parent means:

(1) The child's mother, when the competent authority has determined that the child's father has abandoned or deserted the child, or has disappeared from the child's life; or

(2) The child's father, when the competent authority has determined that the child's mother has abandoned or deserted the child, or has disappeared from the child's life; except that

(3) A child's parent is not a sole parent if the child has acquired another parent within the meaning of section 101(b)(2) of the Act and this section.

Suitability as adoptive parent(s) means that USCIS is satisfied, based on the evidence of record, that it is reasonable to conclude that the applicant is capable of providing, and will provide, proper parental care to an adopted child.

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 and this section.

§204.302   Role of service providers.

(a) Who may provide services in Convention adoption cases. Subject to the limitations in paragraph (b) or (c) of this section, a U.S. citizen seeking to file a Form I-800A or I-800 may use the services of any individual or entity authorized to provide services in connection with adoption, except that the U.S. citizen must use the services of an accredited agency, temporarily accredited agency, approved person, supervised provider public domestic authority or exempted provider when required to do so under 22 CFR part 96.

(b) Unauthorized practice of law prohibited. An adoption agency or facilitator, including an individual or entity authorized under 22 CFR part 96 to provide the six specific adoption services identified in 22 CFR 96.2, may not engage in any act that constitutes the legal representation, as defined in 8 CFR 1.2, of the applicant (for a Form I-800A case) or petitioner (for a Form I-800 case) unless authorized to do so as provided in 8 CFR part 292. An individual authorized under 8 CFR part 292 to practice before USCIS may provide legal services in connection with a Form I-800A or I-800 case, but may not provide any of the six specific adoption services identified in 22 CFR 96.2, unless the individual is authorized to do so under 22 CFR part 96 (for services provided in the United States) or under the laws of the country of the child's habitual residence (for services performed outside the United States). The provisions of 8 CFR 292.5 concerning sending notices about a case do not apply to an adoption agency or facilitator that is not authorized under 8 CFR part 292 to engage in representation before USCIS.

(c) Application of the Privacy Act. Except as permitted by the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. 552a and the relevant Privacy Act notice concerning the routine use of information, USCIS may not disclose or give access to any information or record relating to any applicant or petitioner who has filed a Form I-800A or Form I-800 to any individual or entity other than that person, including but not limited to an accredited agency, temporarily accredited agency, approved person, public domestic authority, exempted provider, or supervised provider, unless the applicant who filed the Form I-800A or the petitioner who filed Form I-800 has filed a written consent to disclosure, as provided by the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. 552a.

[72 FR 56854, Oct. 4, 2007, as amended at 76 FR 53782, Aug. 29, 2011]

§204.303   Determination of habitual residence.

(a) U.S. Citizens. For purposes of this subpart, a U.S. citizen who is seeking to have an alien classified as the U.S. citizen's child under section 101(b)(1)(G) of the Act is deemed to be habitually resident in the United States if the individual:

(1) Has his or her domicile in the United States, even if he or she is living temporarily abroad; or

(2) Is not domiciled in the United States but establishes by a preponderance of the evidence that:

(i) The citizen will have established a domicile in the United States on or before the date of the child's admission to the United States for permanent residence as a Convention adoptee; or

(ii) The citizen indicates on the Form I-800 that the citizen intends to bring the child to the United States after adopting the child abroad, and before the child's 18th birthday, at which time the child will be eligible for, and will apply for, naturalization under section 322 of the Act and 8 CFR part 322. This option is not available if the child will be adopted in the United States.

(b) Convention adoptees. A child whose classification is sought as a Convention adoptee is, generally, deemed for purposes of this subpart C to be habitually resident in the country of the child's citizenship. If the child's actual residence is outside the country of the child's citizenship, the child will be deemed habitually resident in that other country, rather than in the country of citizenship, if the Central Authority (or another competent authority of the country in which the child has his or her actual residence) has determined that the child's status in that country is sufficiently stable for that country properly to exercise jurisdiction over the child's adoption or custody. This determination must be made by the Central Authority itself, or by another competent authority of the country of the child's habitual residence, but may not be made by a nongovernmental individual or entity authorized by delegation to perform Central Authority functions. The child will not be considered to be habitually resident in any country to which the child 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.

§204.304   Improper inducement prohibited.

(a) Prohibited payments. Neither the applicant/petitioner, nor any individual or entity acting on behalf of the applicant/petitioner may, directly or indirectly, pay, give, offer to pay, or offer to give to any individual or entity or request, receive, or accept from any individual or entity, any money (in any amount) or anything of value (whether the value is great or small), directly or indirectly, to induce or influence any decision concerning:

(1) The placement of a child for adoption;

(2) The consent of a parent, a legal custodian, individual, or agency to the adoption of a child;

(3) The relinquishment of a child to a competent authority, or to an agency or person as defined in 22 CFR 96.2, for the purpose of adoption; or

(4) The performance by the child's parent or parents of any act that makes the child a Convention adoptee.

(b) Permissible payments. Paragraph (a) of this section does not prohibit an applicant/petitioner, or an individual or entity acting on behalf of an applicant/petitioner, from paying the reasonable costs incurred for the services designated in this paragraph. A payment is not reasonable if it is prohibited under the law of the country in which the payment is made or if the amount of the payment is not commensurate with the costs for professional and other services in the country in which any particular service is provided. The permissible services are:

(1) The services of an adoption service provider in connection with an adoption;

(2) Expenses incurred in locating a child for adoption;

(3) Medical, hospital, nursing, pharmaceutical, travel, or other similar expenses incurred by a mother or her child in connection with the birth or any illness of the child;

(4) Counseling services for a parent or a child for a reasonable time before and after the child's placement for adoption;

(5) Expenses, in an amount commensurate with the living standards in the country of the child's habitual residence, for the care of the birth mother while pregnant and immediately following the birth of the child;

(6) Expenses incurred in obtaining the home study;

(7) Expenses incurred in obtaining the reports on the child as described in 8 CFR 204.313(d)(3) and (4);

(8) Legal services, court costs, and travel or other administrative expenses connected with an adoption, including any legal services performed for a parent who consents to the adoption of a child or relinquishes the child to an agency; and

(9) Any other service the payment for which the officer finds, on the basis of the facts of the case, was reasonably necessary.

(c) Department of State requirements. See 22 CFR 96.34, 96.36 and 96.40 for additional regulatory information concerning fees in relation to Convention adoptions.

§204.305   State preadoption requirements.

State preadoption requirements must be complied with when a child is coming into the State as a Convention adoptee to be adopted in the United States. A qualified Convention adoptee is deemed to be coming to be adopted in the United States if either of the following factors exists:

(a) The applicant/petitioner will not complete the child's adoption abroad; or

(b) In the case of a married applicant/petitioner, the child was adopted abroad only by one of the spouses, rather than by the spouses jointly, so that it will be necessary for the other spouse to adopt the child after the child's admission.

§204.306   Classification as an immediate relative based on a Convention adoption.

(a) Unless 8 CFR 204.309 requires the denial of a Form I-800A or Form I-800, a child is eligible for classification as an immediate relative, as defined in section 201(b)(2)(A)(i) of the Act, on the basis of a Convention adoption, if the U.S. citizen who seeks to adopt the child establishes that:

(1) The United States citizen is (or, if married, the United States citizen and the United States citizen's spouse are) eligible and suitable to adopt; and

(2) The child is a Convention adoptee.

(b) A U.S. citizen seeking to have USCIS classify an alien child as the U.S. citizen's child under section 101(b)(1)(G) of the Act must complete a two-step process:

(1) First, the U.S. citizen must file a Form I-800A under 8 CFR 204.310;

(2) Then, once USCIS has approved the Form I-800A and a child has been identified as an alien who may qualify as a Convention adoptee, the U.S. citizen must file a Form I-800 under 8 CFR 204.313.

§204.307   Who may file a Form I-800A or Form I-800.

(a) Eligibility to file Form I-800A. Except as provided in paragraph (c) of this section, the following persons may file a Form I-800A:

(1) An unmarried United States citizen who is at least 24 years old and who is habitually resident in the United States, as determined under 8 CFR 204.303(a); or

(2) A married United States citizen, who is habitually resident in the United States, as determined under 8 CFR 204.303(a), and whose spouse will also adopt any child adopted by the citizen based on the approval of a Form I-800A; and

(3) The citizen's spouse must also be either a U.S. citizen, a non-citizen U.S. national, or an alien who, if living in the United States, holds a lawful status under U.S. immigration law. If an alien spouse is present in a lawful status other than the status of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence, such status will be a factor evaluated in determining whether the family's situation is sufficiently stable to support a finding that the applicant is suitable as the adoptive parents of a Convention adoptee.

(b) Eligibility to file a Form I-800. Except as provided in paragraph (c) of this section, the following persons may file a Form I-800:

(1) An unmarried United States citizen who is at least 25 years old and who is habitually resident in the United States, as determined under 8 CFR 204.303(a); or

(2) A married United States citizen, who is habitually resident in the United States as determined under 8 CFR 204.303(a), and whose spouse will also adopt the child the citizen seeks to adopt. The spouse must be either a United States citizen or a non-citizen U.S. national or an alien who, if living in the United States, holds a lawful status under U.S. immigration law; and

(3) The person has an approved and unexpired Form I-800A.

(c) Exceptions. (1) No applicant may file a Form I-800A, and no petitioner may file a Form I-800, if:

(i) The applicant filed a prior Form I-800A that USCIS denied under 8 CFR 204.309(a); or

(ii) The applicant filed a prior Form I-600A under 8 CFR 204.3 that USCIS denied under 8 CFR 204.3(h)(4); or

(iii) The petitioner filed a prior Form I-800 that USCIS denied under 8 CFR 204.309(b)(3); or

(iv) The petitioner filed a prior Form I-600 under 8 CFR 204.3 that USCIS denied under 8 CFR 204.3(i).

(2) This bar against filing a subsequent Form I-800A or Form I-800 expires one year after the date on which the decision denying the prior Form I-800A, I-600A, I-800 or I-600 became administratively final. If the applicant (for a Form I-800A or I-600A case) or the petitioner (for a Form I-800 or I-600 case) does not appeal the prior decision, the one-year period ends one year after the date of the original decision denying the prior Form I-800A, I-600A, I-800 or I-600. Any Form I-800A, or Form I-800 filed during this one-year period will be denied. If the applicant (for a Form I-800A or Form I-600A case) or petitioner (for a Form I-800 or I-600 case) appeals the prior decision, the bar to filing a new Form I-800A or I-800 applies while the appeal is pending and ends one year after the date of an Administrative Appeals Office decision affirming the denial.

(3) Any facts underlying a prior denial of a Form I-800A, I-800, I-600A, or I-600 are relevant to the adjudication of any subsequently filed Form I-800A or Form I-800 that is filed after the expiration of this one year bar.

§204.308   Where to file Form I-800A or Form I-800.

(a) Form I-800A. An applicant must file a Form I-800A with the USCIS office identified in the instructions that accompany Form I-800A.

(b) Form I-800. After a Form I-800A has been approved, a petitioner may file a Form I-800 on behalf of a Convention adoptee with the stateside or overseas USCIS office identified in the instructions that accompany Form I-800. The petitioner may also file the Form I-800 with a visa-issuing post that would have jurisdiction to adjudicate a visa application filed by or on behalf of the Convention adoptee, when filing with the visa-issuing post is permitted by the instructions that accompany Form I-800.

(c) Final approval of Form I-800. Once a Form I-800 has been provisionally approved under 8 CFR 204.313(g) and the petitioner has either adopted or obtained custody of the child for purposes of emigration and adoption, the Department of State officer with jurisdiction to adjudicate the child's application for an immigrant or nonimmigrant visa has jurisdiction to grant final approval of the Form I-800. The Department of State officer may approve the Form I-800, but may not deny it; the Department of State officer must refer any Form I-800 that is “not clearly approvable” for a decision by a USCIS office having jurisdiction over Form I-800 cases. If the Department of State officer refers the Form I-800 to USCIS because it is “not clearly approvable,” then USCIS has jurisdiction to approve or deny the Form I-800. In the case of an alien child who is in the United States and who is eligible both under 8 CFR 204.309(b)(4) for approval of a Form I-800 and under 8 CFR part 245 for adjustment of status, the USCIS office with jurisdiction to adjudicate the child's adjustment of status application also has jurisdiction to grant final approval of the Form I-800.

(d) Use of electronic filing. When, and if, USCIS adopts electronic, internet-based or other digital means for filing Convention cases, the terms “filing a Form I-800A” and “filing a Form I-800” will include an additional option. Rather than filing the Form I-800A or Form I-800 and accompanying evidence in a paper format, the submission of the same required information and accompanying evidence may be filed according to the digital filing protocol that USCIS adopts.

§204.309   Factors requiring denial of a Form I-800A or Form I-800.

(a) Form I-800A. A USCIS officer must deny a Form I-800A if:

(1) The applicant or any additional adult member of the household failed to disclose to the home study preparer or to USCIS, or concealed or misrepresented, any fact(s) about the applicant or any additional member of the household concerning the arrest, conviction, or history of substance abuse, sexual abuse, child abuse, and/or family violence, or any other criminal history as an offender; the fact that an arrest or conviction or other criminal history has been expunged, sealed, pardoned, or the subject of any other amelioration does not relieve the applicant or additional adult member of the household of the obligation to disclose the arrest, conviction or other criminal history;

(2) The applicant, or any additional adult member of the household, failed to cooperate in having available child abuse registries checked in accordance with 8 CFR 204.311;

(3) The applicant, or any additional adult member of the household, failed to disclose, as required by 8 CFR 204.311, each and every prior adoption home study, whether completed or not, including those that did not favorably recommend for adoption or custodial care, the person(s) to whom the prior home study related; or

(4) The applicant is barred by 8 CFR 204.307(c) from filing the Form I-800A.

(b) Form I-800. A USCIS officer must deny a Form I-800 if:

(1) Except as specified in 8 CFR 204.312(e)(2)(ii) with respect to a new Form I-800 filed with a new Form I-800A to reflect a change in marital status, the petitioner completed the adoption of the child, or acquired legal custody of the child for purposes of emigration and adoption, before the provisional approval of the Form I-800 under 8 CFR 204.313(g). This restriction will not apply if a competent authority in the country of the child's habitual residence voids, vacates, annuls, or terminates the adoption or grant of custody and then, after the provisional approval of the Form I-800, and after receipt of notice under article 5(c) of the Convention that the child is, or will be, authorized to enter and reside permanently in the United States, permits a new grant of adoption or custody. The prior adoption must be voided, vacated, annulled or otherwise terminated before the petitioner files a Form I-800.

(2) Except as specified in 8 CFR 204.312(e)(2)(ii) with respect to a new Form I-800 filed with a new Form I-800A to reflect a change in marital status, the petitioner, or any additional adult member of the household had met with, or had any other form of contact with, the child's parents, legal custodian, or other individual or entity who was responsible for the child's care when the contact occurred, unless the contact was permitted under this paragraph. An authorized adoption service provider's sharing of general information about a possible adoption placement is not “contact” for purposes of this section. Contact is permitted under this paragraph if:

(i) The first such contact occurred only after USCIS had approved the Form I-800A filed by the petitioner, and after the competent authority of the Convention country had determined that the child is eligible for intercountry adoption and that the required consents to the adoption have been given; or

(ii) The competent authority of the Convention country had permitted earlier contact, either in the particular instance or through laws or rules of general application, and the contact occurred only in compliance with the particular authorization or generally applicable laws or rules. If the petitioner first adopted the child without complying with the Convention, the competent authority's decision to permit the adoption to be vacated, and to allow the petitioner to adopt the child again after complying with the Convention, will also constitute approval of any prior contact; or

(iii) The petitioner was already, before the adoption, the father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, first cousin (that is, the petitioner, or either spouse, in the case of a married petitioner had at least one grandparent in common with the child's parent), second cousin (that is, the petitioner, or either spouse, in the case of a married petitioner, had at least one great-grandparent in common with the child's parent) nephew, niece, husband, former husband, wife, former wife, father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, stepfather, stepmother, stepson, stepdaughter, stepbrother, stepsister, half brother, or half sister of the child's parent(s).

(3) The USCIS officer finds that the petitioner, or any individual or entity acting on behalf of the petitioner has engaged in any conduct related to the adoption or immigration of the child that is prohibited by 8 CFR 204.304, or that the petitioner has concealed or misrepresented any material facts concerning payments made in relation to the adoption;

(4) The child is present in the United States, unless the petitioner, after compliance with the requirements of this subpart, either adopt(s) the child in the Convention country, or else, after having obtained custody of the child under the law of the Convention country for purposes of emigration and adoption, adopt(s) the child in the United States. This subpart does not require the child's actual return to the Convention country; whether to permit the child's adoption without the child's return is a matter to be determined by the Central Authority of the country of the child's habitual residence, but approval of a Form I-800 does not relieve an alien child of his or her ineligibility for adjustment of status under section 245 of the Act, if the child is present in the United States without inspection or is otherwise ineligible for adjustment of status. If the child is in the United States but is not eligible for adjustment of status, the Form I-800 may be provisionally approved only if the child will leave the United States after the provisional approval and apply for a visa abroad before the final approval of the Form I-800.

(5) Except as specified in 8 CFR 204.312(e)(2)(ii) with respect to a new Form I-800 filed with a new Form I-800A to reflect a change in marital status, the petitioner files the Form I-800:

(i) Before the approval of a Form I-800A, or

(ii) After the denial of a Form I-800A; or

(iii) After the expiration of the approval of a Form I-800A;

(6) The petitioner is barred by 8 CFR 204.307(c) from filing the Form I-800.

(c) Notice of intent to deny. Before denying a Form I-800A under paragraph (a) or a Form I-800 under paragraph (b) of this section, the USCIS officer will notify the applicant (for a Form I-800A case) or petitioner (for a Form I-800 case) in writing of the intent to deny the Form I-800A or Form I-800 and provide 30 days in which to submit evidence and argument to rebut the claim that this section requires denial of the Form I-800A or Form I-800.

(d) Rebuttal of intent to deny. If USCIS notifies the applicant that USCIS intends to deny a Form I-800A under paragraph (a) of this section, because the applicant or any additional adult member(s) of the household failed to disclose to the home study preparer or to USCIS, or concealed or misrepresented, any fact(s) concerning the arrest, conviction, or history of substance abuse, sexual abuse or child abuse, and/or family violence, or other criminal history, or failed to cooperate in search of child abuse registries, or failed to disclose a prior home study, the applicant may rebut the intent to deny only by establishing, by clear and convincing evidence that:

(1) The applicant or additional adult member of the household did, in fact, disclose the information; or

(2) If it was an additional adult member of the household who failed to cooperate in the search of child abuse registries, or who failed to disclose to the home study preparer or to USCIS, or concealed or misrepresented, any fact(s) concerning the arrest, conviction, or history of substance abuse, sexual abuse or child abuse, and/or family violence, or other criminal history, or failed to disclose a prior home study, that that person is no longer a member of the household and that that person's conduct is no longer relevant to the suitability of the applicant as the adoptive parent of a Convention adoptee.

§204.310   Filing requirements for Form I-800A.

(a) Completing and filing the Form. A United States citizen seeking to be determined eligible and suitable as the adoptive parent of a Convention adoptee must:

(1) Complete Form I-800A, including a Form I-800A Supplement 1 for each additional adult member of the household, in accordance with the instructions that accompany the Form I-800A.

(2) Sign the Form I-800A personally. One spouse cannot sign for the other, even under a power of attorney or similar agency arrangement.

(3) File the Form I-800A with the USCIS office that has jurisdiction under 8 CFR 204.308(a) to adjudicate the Form I-800A, together with:

(i) The fee specified in 8 CFR 103.7(b)(1) for the filing of Form I-800A;

(ii) The additional biometrics information collection fee required under 8 CFR 103.7(b)(1) for the applicant and each additional adult member of the household;

(iii) Evidence that the applicant is a United States citizen, as set forth in 8 CFR 204.1(g), or, in the case of a married applicant, evidence either that both spouses are citizens or, if only one spouse is a United States citizen, evidence of that person's citizenship and evidence that the other spouse, if he or she lives in the United States, is either a non-citizen United States national or an alien who holds a lawful status under U.S. immigration law.

(iv) A copy of the current marriage certificate, unless the applicant is not married;

(v) If the applicant has been married previously, a death certificate or divorce or dissolution decree to establish the legal termination of all previous marriages, regardless of current marital status;

(vi) If the applicant is not married, his or her birth certificate, U.S. passport biographical information page, naturalization or citizenship certificate, or other evidence, to establish that he or she is at least 24 years old;

(vii) A written description of the preadoption requirements, if any, of the State of the child's proposed residence in cases where it is known that any child the applicant may adopt will be adopted in the United States, and of the steps that have already been taken or that are planned to comply with these requirements. The written description must include a citation to the State statutes and regulations establishing the requirements. Any preadoption requirements which cannot be met at the time the Form I-800A is filed because of the operation of State law must be noted and explained when the Form I-800A is filed.

(viii) A home study that meets the requirements of 8 CFR 204.311 and that bears the home study preparer's original signature. If the home study is not included with the Form I-800A, the director of the office that has jurisdiction to adjudicate the Form I-800A will make a written request for evidence, directing the applicant to submit the home study. If the applicant fails to submit the home study within the period specified in the request for evidence, the director of the office that has jurisdiction to adjudicate the Form I-800A will deny the Form I-800A. Denial of a Form I-800A under this paragraph for failure to submit a home study is not subject to appeal, but the applicant may file a new Form I-800A, accompanied by a new filing fee.

(b) Biometrics. Upon the proper filing of a Form I-800A, USCIS will arrange for the collection of biometrics from the applicant and each additional adult member of the household, as prescribed in 8 CFR 103.16, but with no upper age limit. It will be necessary to collect the biometrics of each of these persons again, if the initial collection expires before approval of the Form I-800A. USCIS may waive this requirement for any particular individual if USCIS determines that that person is physically unable to comply. However, USCIS will require the submission of affidavits, police clearances, or other evidence relating to whether that person has a criminal history in lieu of collecting the person's biometrics.

(c) Change in marital status. If, while a Form I-800A is pending, an unmarried applicant marries, or the marriage of a married applicant ends, an amended Form I-800A and amended home study must be filed to reflect the change in marital status. No additional filing fee is required to file an amended Form I-800A while the original Form I-800A is still pending. See 8 CFR 204.312(e)(2) concerning the need to file a new Form I-800A if the marital status changes after approval of a Form I-800A.

[72 FR 56854, Oct. 4, 2007, as amended at 76 FR 53782, Aug. 29, 2011]

§204.311   Convention adoption home study requirements.

(a) Purpose. For immigration purposes, a home study is a process for screening and preparing an applicant who is interested in adopting a child from a Convention country.

(b) Preparer. Only an individual or entity defined under 8 CFR 204.301 as a home study preparer for Convention cases may complete a home study for a Convention adoption. In addition, the individual or entity must be authorized to complete adoption home studies under the law of the jurisdiction in which the home study is conducted.

(c) Study requirements. The home study must:

(1) Be tailored to the particular situation of the applicant and to the specific Convention country in which the applicant intends to seek a child for adoption. For example, an applicant who has previously adopted children will require different preparation than an applicant who has no adopted children. A home study may address the applicant's suitability to adopt in more than one Convention country, but if the home study does so, the home study must separately assess the applicant's suitability as to each specific Convention country.

(2) If there are any additional adult members of the household, identify each of them by name, alien registration number (if the individual has one), and date of birth.

(3) Include an interview by the preparer of any additional adult member of the household and an assessment of him or her in light of the requirements of this section.

(4) Be no more than 6 months old at the time the home study is submitted to USCIS.

(5) Include the home study preparer's assessment of any 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. See 8 CFR 204.309(a) for the consequences of failure to disclose information or cooperate in completion of a home study.

(6) Include the home study preparer's signature, in accordance with paragraph (f) of this section.

(7) State the number of interviews and visits, the participants, date and location of each interview and visit, and the date and location of any other contacts with the applicant and any additional adult member of the household.

(8) Summarize the pre-placement preparation and training already provided to the applicant concerning the issues specified in 22 CFR 96.48(a) and (b), the plans for future preparation and training with respect to those issues, or with respect to a particular child, as specified in 22 CFR 96.48(c), and the plans for post-placement monitoring specified in 22 CFR 96.50, in the event that the child will be adopted in the United States rather than abroad.

(9) Specify whether the home study preparer made any referrals as described in paragraph (g)(4) of this section, and include a copy of the report resulting from each referral, the home study preparer's assessment of the impact of the report on the suitability of the applicant to adopt, and the home study preparer's recommended restrictions, if any, on the characteristics of the child to be placed in the home.

(10) Include results of the checks conducted in accordance with paragraph (i) of this section including that no record was found to exist, that the State or foreign country will not release information to the home study preparer or anyone in the household, or that the State or foreign country does not have a child abuse registry.

(11) Include each person's response to the questions regarding abuse and violence in accordance with paragraph (j) of this section.

(12) Include 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 for anyone subject to the home study and a written statement submitted with the home study giving details, including any mitigating circumstances about each arrest, signed, under penalty of perjury, by the person to whom the arrest relates.

(13) Contain an evaluation of the suitability of the home for adoptive placement of a child in light of any applicant's or additional adult member of the household's history of abuse and/or violence as an offender, whether this history is disclosed by an applicant or any additional adult member of the household or is discovered by home study preparer, regardless of the source of the home study preparer's discovery. A single incident of sexual abuse, child abuse, or family violence is sufficient to constitute a “history” of abuse and/or violence.

(14) Contain an evaluation of the suitability of the home for adoptive placement of a child in light of disclosure by an applicant, or any additional adult member of the household, of a history of substance abuse. A person has a history of substance abuse if his or her current or past use of alcohol, controlled substances, or other substances impaired or impairs his or her ability to fulfill obligations at work, school, or home, or creates other social or interpersonal problems that may adversely affect the applicant's suitability as an adoptive parent.

(15) Include a general description of the information disclosed in accordance with paragraph (m) of this section concerning the physical, mental, and emotional health of the applicant and of any additional adult member of the household.

(16) Identify the agency involved in each prior or terminated home study in accordance with paragraph (o) of this section, when the prior home study process began, the date the prior home study was completed, and whether the prior home study recommended for or against finding the applicant or additional adult member of the household suitable for adoption, foster care, or other custodial care of a child. If a prior home study was terminated without completion, the current home study must indicate when the prior home study began, the date of termination, and the reason for the termination.

(d) Duty to disclose. (1) The applicant, and any additional adult members of the household, each has a duty of candor and must:

(i) Give true and complete information to the home study preparer.

(ii) Disclose any arrest, conviction, or other adverse criminal history, whether in the United States or abroad, even if the record of the arrest, conviction or other adverse criminal history has been expunged, sealed, pardoned, or the subject of any other amelioration. A person with a criminal history may be able to establish sufficient rehabilitation.

(iii) Disclose other relevant information, such as physical, mental or emotional health issues, or behavioral issues, as specified in paragraph (m) of this section. Such problems may not necessarily preclude approval of a Form I-800A, if, for example, they have been or are being successfully treated.

(2) This duty of candor is an ongoing duty, and continues while the Form I-800A is pending, after the Form I-800A is approved, and while any subsequent Form I-800 is pending, and until there is a final decision admitting the Convention adoptee to the United States with a visa. The applicant and any additional adult member of the household must notify the home study preparer and USCIS of any new event or information that might warrant submission of an amended or updated home study.

(e) State standards. In addition to the requirements of this section, the home study preparer must prepare the home study according to the requirements that apply to a domestic adoption in the State of the applicant's actual or proposed residence in the United States.

(f) Home study preparer's signature. The home study preparer (or, if the home study is prepared by an entity, the officer or employee who has authority to sign the home study for the entity) must personally sign the home study, and any updated or amended home study. The home study preparer's signature must include a declaration, under penalty of perjury under United States law, that:

(1) The signer personally, and with the professional diligence reasonably necessary to protect the best interests of any child whom the applicant might adopt, either actually conducted or supervised the home study, including personal interview(s), the home visits, and all other aspects of the investigation needed to prepare the home study; if the signer did not personally conduct the home study, the person who actually did so must be identified;

(2) The factual statements in the home study are true and correct, to the best of the signer's knowledge, information and belief; and

(3) The home study preparer has advised the applicant of the duty of candor under paragraph (d) of this section, specifically including the on-going duty under paragraph (d)(2) of this section concerning disclosure of new events or information warranting submission of an updated or amended home study.

(g) Personal interview(s) and home visit(s). The home study preparer must:

(1) Conduct at least one interview in person, and at least one home visit, with the applicant.

(2) Interview, at least once, each additional adult member of the household, as defined in 8 CFR 204.301. The interview with an additional adult member of the household should also be in person, unless the home study preparer determines that interviewing that individual in person is not reasonably feasible and explains in the home study the reason for this conclusion.

(3) Provide information on and assess the suitability of the applicant as the adoptive parent of a Convention adoptee based on the applicant's background, family and medical history (including physical, mental and emotional health), social environment, reasons for adoption, ability to undertake an intercountry adoption, and the characteristics of the child(ren) for whom they would be qualified to care.

(4) Refer the applicant to an appropriate licensed professional, such as a physician, psychiatrist, clinical psychologist, clinical social worker, or professional substance abuse counselor, for an evaluation and written report, if the home study preparer determines that there are areas beyond his or her expertise that need to be addressed. The home study preparer must also make such a referral if such a referral would be required for a domestic adoption under the law of the State of the applicant's actual or proposed place of residence in the United States.

(5) Apply the requirements of this paragraph to each additional adult member of the household.

(h) Financial considerations. (1) Assessment of the finances of the applicant must include:

(i) A description of the applicant's income, financial resources, debts, and expenses.

(ii) A statement concerning the evidence that was considered to verify the source and amount of income and financial resources.

(2) Any income designated for the support of one or more children in the applicant's care and custody, 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 adoptive child.

(3) USCIS will not routinely require a detailed financial statement or supporting financial documents. However, should the need arise, USCIS reserves the right to ask for such detailed documentation.

(i) Checking available child abuse registries. The home study preparer must ensure that a check of the applicant, and of each additional adult member of the household, has been made with available child abuse registries in any State or foreign country that the applicant, or any additional adult member of the household, has resided in since that person's 18th birthday. USCIS may also conduct its own check of any child abuse registries to which USCIS has access. Depending on the extent of access to a relevant registry allowed by the State or foreign law, the home study preparer must take one of the following courses of action:

(1) If the home study preparer is allowed access to information from the child abuse registries, he or she must make the appropriate checks for the applicant and each additional adult member of the household;

(2) If the State or foreign country requires the home study preparer to secure permission from the applicant and each additional adult member of the 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;

(3) If the State or foreign country will only release information directly to an individual to whom the information relates, then the applicant and the additional adult member of the household must secure such information and provide it to the home study preparer.

(4) If the State or foreign country will release information neither to the home study preparer nor to the person to whom the information relates, or has not done so within 6 months of a written request for the information, this unavailability of information must be noted in the home study.

(j) Inquiring about history of abuse or violence as an offender. The home study preparer must ask each applicant and each additional adult member of the household whether he or she has a history as an offender, whether in the United States or abroad, of substance abuse, sexual abuse, or child abuse, or family violence, even if such history did not result in an arrest or conviction. This evaluation must include:

(1) The dates of each arrest or conviction or history of substance abuse, sexual abuse or child abuse, and/or family violence; or,

(2) If not resulting in an arrest, the date or time period (if occurring over an extended period of time) of each occurrence and

(3) Details including any mitigating circumstances about each incident.

Each statement must be signed, under penalty of perjury, by the person to whom the incident relates.

(k) Criminal history. The applicant, and any additional adult members of the household, must also disclose to the home study preparer and USCIS any history, whether in the United States or abroad, of any arrest and/or conviction (other than for minor traffic offenses) in addition to the information that the person must disclose under paragraph (j) of this section. If an applicant or an additional adult member of the household has a criminal record, the officer may still find that the applicant will be suitable as the adoptive parent of a Convention adoptee, if there is sufficient evidence of rehabilitation as described in paragraph (l) of this section.

(l) Evidence of rehabilitation. If an applicant, or any additional adult member of the household, has a history of substance abuse, sexual abuse or child abuse, and/or family violence as an offender, or any other criminal history, the home study preparer may, nevertheless, make a favorable finding if the applicant has demonstrated that the person with this adverse history has achieved appropriate rehabilitation. A favorable recommendation cannot be made based on a claim of rehabilitation while an applicant or any additional adult member of the household is on probation, parole, supervised release, or other similar arrangement for any conviction. The home study must include a discussion of the claimed rehabilitation, which demonstrates that the applicant is suitable as the adoptive parent(s) of a Convention adoptee. Evidence of rehabilitation may include:

(1) 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, the offender's acceptance of responsibility for his or her conduct, and any type of counseling or rehabilitation programs which have been successfully completed, or

(2) A written opinion from an appropriate licensed professional, such as a psychiatrist, clinical psychologist, or clinical social worker.

(m) Assessment with respect to physical, mental and emotional health or behavioral issues. The home study must address the current physical, mental and emotional health of the applicant, or any additional adult member of the household, as well as any history of illness or of any mental, emotional, psychological, or behavioral instability if the home study preparer determines, in the exercise of reasonable professional judgment, that the suitability of the applicant as an adoptive parent may be affected adversely by such history. Paragraph (g)(4) of this section, regarding referral to professionals, applies to any home study involving prior psychiatric care, or issues arising from sexual abuse, child abuse, or family violence issues if, in the home study preparer's reasonable professional judgment, such referral(s) may be necessary or helpful to the proper completion of the home study.

(n) Prior home study. The home study preparer must ask each applicant, and any additional adult member of the household, whether he or she previously has had a prior home study completed, or began a home study process in relation to an adoption or to any form of foster or other custodial care of a child that was not completed, whether or not the prior home study related to an intercountry adoption, and must include each individual's response to this question in the home study report. A copy of any previous home study that did not favorably recommend the applicant or additional adult member of the household must be attached to any home study submitted with a Form I-800A. If a copy of any prior home study that did not favorably recommend the applicant or additional adult member of the household is no longer available, the current home study must explain why the prior home study is no longer available. The home study preparer must evaluate the relevance of any prior unfavorable or uncompleted home study to the suitability of the applicant as the adoptive parent of a Convention adoptee.

(o) Living accommodations. The home study must include a detailed description of the living accommodations where the applicant currently resides. If the applicant is planning to move, the home study must include a description of the living accommodations where the child will reside with the applicant, if known. If the applicant is 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 applicant, 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.

(p) Handicapped or special needs child. A home study conducted in conjunction with the proposed adoption of a special needs or handicapped child must contain a discussion of the preparation, willingness, and ability of the applicant to provide proper care for a child with the handicap or special needs. This information will be used to evaluate the suitability of the applicant as the adoptive parent of a special needs or handicapped child. If this information is not included in the home study, an updated or amended home study will be necessary if the applicant seeks to adopt a handicapped or special needs child.

(q) Addressing a Convention country's specific requirements. If the Central Authority of the Convention country has notified the Secretary of State of any specific requirements that must be met in order to adopt in the Convention country, the home study must include a full and complete statement of all facts relevant to the applicant's eligibility for adoption in the Convention country, in light of those specific requirements.

(r) Specific approval for adoption. If the home study preparer's findings are favorable, the home study must contain his or her specific approval of the applicant for adoption of a child from the specific Convention country or countries, and a discussion of the reasons for such approval. The home study must include the number of children the applicant may adopt at the same time. The home study must state whether there are any specific restrictions to the adoption based on the age or gender, or other characteristics of the child. If the home study preparer has approved the applicant for a handicapped or special needs adoption, this fact must be clearly stated.

(s) Home study preparer's authority to conduct home studies. The home study must include a statement in which the home study preparer certifies that he or she is authorized under 22 CFR part 96 to complete home studies for Convention adoption cases. The certification must specify the State or country under whose authority the home study preparer is licensed or authorized, cite the specific law or regulation authorizing the preparer to conduct home studies, and indicate the license number, if any, and the expiration date, if any, of this authorization or license. The certification must also specify the basis under 22 CFR part 96 (public domestic authority, accredited agency, temporarily accredited agency, approved person, exempted provider, or supervised provider) for his or her authorization to conduct Convention adoption home studies.

(t) Review of home study. (1) If the law of the State in which the applicant resides requires the competent authority in the State to review the home study, such a review must occur and be documented before the home study is submitted to USCIS.

(2) When the home study is not performed in the first instance by an accredited agency or temporarily accredited agency, as defined in 22 CFR part 96, then an accredited agency or temporarily accredited agency, as defined in 22 CFR part 96, must review and approve the home study as specified in 22 CFR 96.47(c) before the home study is submitted to USCIS. This requirement for review and approval by an accredited agency or temporarily accredited agency does not apply to a home study that was actually prepared by a public domestic authority, as defined in 22 CFR 96.2.

(u) Home study updates and amendments. (1) A new home study amendment or update will be required if there is:

(i) A significant change in the applicant's household, such as a change in residence, marital status, criminal history, financial resources; or

(ii) The addition of one or more children in the applicant's home, whether through adoption or foster care, birth, or any other means. Even if the original home study provided for the adoption of more than one adopted child, the applicant must submit an amended home study recommending adoption of an additional child, because the addition of the already adopted child(ren) to the applicant's household is a significant change in the household that should be assessed before the adoption of any additional child(ren);

(iii) The addition of other dependents or additional adult member(s) of the household to the family prior to the prospective child's immigration into the United States;

(iv) A change resulting because the applicant is seeking to adopt a handicapped or special needs child, if the home study did not already address the applicant's suitability as the adoptive parent of a child with the particular handicap or special need;

(v) A change to a different Convention country. This change requires the updated home study to address suitability under the requirements of the new Convention country;

(vi) A lapse of more than 6 months between the date the home study is completed and the date it is submitted to USCIS; or

(vii) A change to the child's proposed State of residence. The preadoption requirements of the new State must be complied with in the case of a child coming to the United States to be adopted.

(2) Any updated or amended home study must:

(i) Meet the requirements of this section;

(ii) Be accompanied by a copy of the home study that is being updated or amended, including all prior updates and amendments;

(iii) Include a statement from the preparer that he or she has reviewed the home study that is being updated or amended and is personally and fully aware of its contents; and

(iv) Address whether the home study preparer recommends approval of the proposed adoption and the reasons for the recommendation.

(3) If submission of an updated or amended home study becomes necessary before USCIS adjudicates the Form I-800A, the applicant may simply submit the updated or amended home study to the office that has jurisdiction over the Form I-800A.

(4) If it becomes necessary to file an updated or amended home study after USCIS has approved the Form I-800A, the applicant must file a Form I-800A Supplement 3 with the filing fee specified in 8 CFR 103.7(b)(1) and the amended or updated home study. If USCIS determines that the amended or updated home study shows that the applicant remains suitable as the adoptive parent(s) of a Convention adoptee, USCIS will issue a new approval notice that will expire on the same date as the original approval. If the applicant also wants to have USCIS extend the approval period for the Form I-800A, the applicant must submit the updated or amended home study with an extension request under 8 CFR 204.312(e)(3), rather than under this paragraph (u) of this section.

(5) Each update must indicate that the home study preparer has updated the screening of the applicant and any additional adult member of the household under paragraphs (i) through (l) of this section, and must indicate the results of this updated screening.

§204.312   Adjudication of the Form I-800A.

(a) USCIS action. The USCIS officer must approve a Form I-800A if the officer finds, based on the evidence of record, that the applicant is eligible under 8 CFR 204.307(a) to file a Form I-800A and the USCIS officer is satisfied that the applicant is suitable as the adoptive parent of a child from the specified Convention country. If the applicant sought approval for more than one Convention country, the decision will specify each country for which the Form I-800A is approved, and will also specify whether the Form I-800A is denied with respect to any particular Convention country.

(b) Evaluation of the home study. In determining suitability to adopt, the USCIS officer will give considerable weight to the home study, but is not bound by it. Even if the home study is favorable, the USCIS officer must deny the Form I-800A if, on the basis of the evidence of record, the officer finds, for a specific and articulable reason, that the applicant has failed to establish that he or she is suitable as the adoptive parent of a child from the Convention country. The USCIS officer may consult the accredited agency or temporarily accredited agency that approved the home study, the home study preparer, the applicant, the relevant State or local child welfare agency, or any appropriate licensed professional, as needed to clarify issues concerning whether the applicant is suitable as the adoptive parent of a Convention adoptee. If this consultation yields evidence that is adverse to the applicant, the USCIS officer may rely on the evidence only after complying with the provisions of 8 CFR 103.2(b)(16) relating to the applicant's right to review and rebut adverse information.

(c) Denial of application. (1) The USCIS officer will deny the Form I-800A if the officer finds that the applicant has failed to establish that the applicant is:

(i) Eligible under 8 CFR 204.307(a) to file Form I-800A; or

(ii) Suitable as the adoptive parent of a child from the Convention country.

(2) Before denying a Form I-800A, the USCIS officer will comply with 8 CFR 103.2(b)(16), if required to do so under that provision, and may issue a request for evidence or a notice of intent to deny under 8 CFR 103.2(b)(8).

(3) A denial will be in writing, giving the reason for the denial and notifying the applicant of the right to appeal, if any, as provided in 8 CFR 204.314.

(4) It is for the Central Authority of the other Convention country to determine how its own adoption requirements, as disclosed in the home study under 8 CFR 204.311(q), should be applied in a given case. For this reason, the fact that the applicant may be ineligible to adopt in the other Convention country under those requirements, will not warrant the denial of a Form I-800A, if USCIS finds that the applicant has otherwise established eligibility and suitability as the adoptive parent of a Convention adoptee.

(d) Approval notice. (1) If USCIS approves the Form I-800A, USCIS will notify the applicant in writing as well as the Department of State. The notice of approval will specify:

(i) The expiration date for the notice of approval, as determined under paragraph (e) of this section, and

(ii) The name(s) and marital status of the applicant; and

(iii) If the applicant is not married and not yet 25 years old, the applicant's date of birth.

(2) Once USCIS approves the Form I-800A, or extends the validity period for a prior approval under paragraph (e) of this section, any submission of the home study to the Central Authority of the country of the child's habitual residence must consist of the entire and complete text of the same home study and of any updates or amendments submitted to USCIS.

(e) Duration or revocation of approval. (1) A notice of approval expires 15 months after the date on which USCIS received the FBI response on the applicant's, and any additional adult member of the household's, biometrics, unless approval is revoked. If USCIS received the responses on different days, the 15-month period begins on the earliest response date. The notice of approval will specify the expiration date. USCIS may extend the validity period for the approval of a Form I-800A only as provided in paragraph (e)(3) of this section.

(2) (i) The approval of a Form I-800A is automatically revoked if before the final decision on a Convention adoptee's application for admission with an immigrant visa or for adjustment of status:

(A) The marriage of the applicant terminates; or

(B) An unmarried applicant marries; or

(C) In the case of a married applicant, either spouse files with a USCIS or Department of State officer a written document withdrawing his or her signature on the Form I-800A.

(ii) This revocation is without prejudice to the filing of a new Form I-800A, with fee, accompanied by a new or amended home study, reflecting the change in marital status. If a Form I-800 had already been filed based on the approval of the prior Form I-800A, a new Form I-800 must also be filed with the new Form I-800A under this paragraph. The new Form I-800 will be adjudicated only if the new Form I-800A is approved. The new Form I-800 will not be subject to denial under 8 CFR 204.309(b)(1) or (2), unless the original Form I-800 would have been subject to denial under either of those provisions.

(3)(i) If the 15-month validity period for a Form I-800A approval is about to expire, and the applicant has not filed a Form I-800, the applicant may file Form I-800A Supplement 3, with the filing fee under 8 CFR 103.7(b)(1), if required. The applicant may not file a Form I-800A Supplement 3 seeking extension of an approval notice more than 90 days before the expiration of the validity period for the Form I-800A approval, but must do so on or before the date on which the validity period expires. The applicant is not required to pay the Form I-800A Supplement 3 filing fee for the first request to extend the approval of a Form I-800A. If the applicant files a second or subsequent Form I-800A Supplement 3 to obtain a second or subsequent extension, however, the applicant must pay the Form I-800A Supplement 3 filing fee, as specified in 8 CFR 103.7(b), for the second, or any subsequent, Form I-800A Supplement 3 that is filed to obtain a second or subsequent extension. Any Form I-800A Supplement 3 that is filed to obtain an extension of the approval of a Form I-800A must be accompanied by:

(A) A statement, signed by the applicant under penalty of perjury, detailing any changes to the answers given to the questions on the original Form I-800A;

(B) An updated or amended home study as required under 8 CFR 204.311(u); and

(C) A photocopy of the Form I-800A approval notice.

(ii) Upon receipt of the Form I-800A Supplement 3, USCIS will arrange for the collection of the biometrics of the applicant and of each additional adult member of the applicant's household.

(iii) If USCIS continues to be satisfied that the applicant remains suitable as the adoptive parent of a Convention adoptee, USCIS will extend the approval of the Form I-800A to a date not more than 15 months after the date on which USCIS received the new biometric responses. If new responses are received on different dates, the new 15-month period begins on the earliest response date. The new notice of approval will specify the new expiration date.

(iv) There is no limit to the number of extensions that may be requested and granted under this section, so long as each request is supported by an updated or amended home study that continues to recommend approval of the applicant for intercountry adoption and USCIS continues to find that the applicant remain suitable as the adoptive parent(s) of a Convention adoptee.

(4) In addition to the automatic revocation provided for in paragraph (e)(2) of this section, the approval of a Form I-800A may be revoked pursuant to 8 CFR 205.1 or 205.2.

§204.313   Filing and adjudication of a Form I-800.

(a) When to file. Once a Form I-800A has been approved and the Central Authority has proposed placing a child for adoption by the petitioner, the petitioner may file the Form I-800. The petitioner must complete the Form I-800 in accordance with the instructions that accompany the Form I-800, and must sign the Form I-800 personally. In the case of a married petitioner, one spouse cannot sign for the other, even under a power of attorney or similar agency arrangement. The petitioner may then file the Form I-800 with the stateside or overseas USCIS office or the visa issuing post that has jurisdiction under 8 CFR 204.308(b) to adjudicate the Form I-800, together with the evidence specified in this section and the filing fee specified in 8 CFR 103.7(b)(1), if more than one Form I-800 is filed for children who are not siblings.

(b) What to include on the Form. (1) The petitioner must specify on the Form I-800 either that:

(i) The child will seek an immigrant visa, if the Form I-800 is approved, because the child will reside in the United States with the petitioner (in the case of a married petitioner, if only one spouse is a United States citizen, with that spouse) after the child's admission to the United States on the basis of the proposed adoption; or

(ii) The child will seek a nonimmigrant visa, in order to travel to the United States to obtain naturalization under section 322 of the Act, because the petitioner intends to complete the adoption abroad and the petitioner and the child will continue to reside abroad immediately following the adoption, rather than residing in the United States with the petitioner. This option is not available if the child will be adopted in the United States.

(2) In applying this paragraph (b), if a petitioner is a United States citizen who is domiciled in the United States, but who is posted abroad temporarily under official orders as a member of the Uniformed Services as defined in 5 U.S.C. 2101, or as a civilian officer or employee of the United States Government, the child will be deemed to be coming to the United States to reside in the United States with that petitioner.

(c) Filing deadline. (1) The petitioner must file the Form I-800 before the expiration of the notice of the approval of the Form I-800A and before the child's 16th birthday. Paragraphs (c)(2) and (3) of this section provide special rules for determining that this requirement has been met.

(2) If the appropriate Central Authority places the child with the petitioner for intercountry adoption more than 6 months after the child's 15th birthday but before the child's 16th birthday, the petitioner must still file the Form I-800 before the child's 16th birthday. If the evidence required by paragraph (d)(3) or (4) of this section is not yet available, instead of that evidence, the petitioner may submit a statement from the primary provider, signed under penalty of perjury under United States law, confirming that the Central Authority has, in fact, made the adoption placement on the date specified in the statement. Submission of a Form I-800 with this statement will satisfy the statutory requirement that the petition must be submitted before the child's 16th birthday, but no provisional or final approval of the Form I-800 will be granted until the evidence required by paragraph (d)(3) or (4) of this section has been submitted. When submitted, the evidence required by paragraph (d)(3) and (4) must affirmatively show that the Central Authority did, in fact, make the adoption placement decision before the child's 16th birthday.

(3) If the Form I-800A was filed after the child's 15th birthday but before the child's 16th birthday, the filing date of the Form I-800A will be deemed to be the filing date of the Form I-800, provided the Form I-800 is filed not more than 180 days after the initial approval of the Form I-800A.

(d) Required evidence. Except as specified in paragraph (c)(2) of this section, the petitioner must submit the following evidence with the properly completed Form I-800:

(1) The Form I-800A approval notice and, if applicable, proof that the approval period has been extended under 8 CFR 204.312(e);

(2) A statement from the primary provider, as defined in 22 CFR 96.2, signed under penalty of perjury under United States law, indicating that all of the pre-placement preparation and training provided for in 22 CFR 96.48 has been completed;

(3) The report required under article 16 of the Convention, specifying the child's name and date of birth, the reasons for making the adoption placement, and establishing that the competent authority has, as required under article 4 of the Convention:

(i) Established that the child is eligible for adoption;

(ii) Determined, after having given due consideration to the possibility of placing the child for adoption within the Convention country, that intercountry adoption is in the child's best interests;

(iii) Ensured that the legal custodian, after having been counseled as required, concerning the effect of the child's adoption on the legal custodian's relationship to the child and on the child's legal relationship to his or her family of origin, has freely consented in writing to the child's adoption, in the required legal form;

(iv) Ensured that if any individual or entity other than the legal custodian must consent to the child's adoption, this individual or entity, after having been counseled as required concerning the effect of the child's adoption, has freely consented in writing, in the required legal form, to the child's adoption;

(v) Ensured that the child, after having been counseled as appropriate concerning the effects of the adoption; has freely consented in writing, in the required legal form, to the adoption, if the child is of an age that, under the law of the country of the child's habitual residence, makes the child's consent necessary, and that consideration was given to the child's wishes and opinions; and

(vi) Ensured that no payment or inducement of any kind has been given to obtain the consents necessary for the adoption to be completed.

(4) The report under paragraph (d)(3) of this section must be accompanied by:

(i) A copy of the child's birth certificate, or secondary evidence of the child's age; and

(ii) A copy of the irrevocable consent(s) signed by the legal custodian(s) and any other individual or entity who must consent to the child's adoption unless, as permitted under article 16 of the Convention, the law of the country of the child's habitual residence provides that their identities may not be disclosed, so long as the Central Authority of the country of the child's habitual residence certifies in its report that the required documents exist and that they establish the child's age and availability for adoption;

(iii) A statement, signed under penalty of perjury by the primary provider (or an authorized representative if the primary provider is an agency or other juridical person), certifying that the report is a true, correct, and complete copy of the report obtained from the Central Authority of the Convention country;

(iv) A summary of the information provided to the petitioner under 22 CFR 96.49(d) and (f) concerning the child's medical and social history. This summary, or a separate document, must include:

(A) A statement concerning whether, from any examination as described in 22 CFR 96.49(e) or for any other reason, there is reason to believe that the child has any medical condition that makes the child inadmissible under section 212(a)(1) of the Act; if the medical information that is available at the provisional approval stage is not sufficient to assess whether the child may be inadmissible under section 212(a)(1), the submission of this information may be deferred until the petitioner seeks final approval of the Form I-800;

(B) If both of the child's birth parents were the child's legal custodians and signed the irrevocable consent, the factual basis for determining that they are incapable of providing proper care for the child, as defined in 8 CFR 204.301;

(C) Information about the circumstances of the other birth parent's death, if applicable, supported by a copy of the death certificate, unless paragraph (d)(4)(ii) of this section makes it unnecessary to provide a copy of the death certificate;

(D) If a sole birth parent was the legal custodian, the circumstances leading to the determination that the other parent abandoned or deserted the child, or disappeared from the child's life; and

(E) If the legal custodian was the child's prior adoptive parent(s) or any individual or entity other than the child's birth parent(s), the circumstances leading to the custodian's acquisition of custody of the child and the legal basis of that custody.

(v) If the child will be adopted in the United States, the primary provider's written report, signed under penalty of perjury by the primary provider (or an authorized representative if the primary provider is an agency or other juridical person) detailing the primary adoption service provider's plan for post-placement duties, as specified in 22 CFR 96.50; and

(5) If the child may be inadmissible under any provision of section 212(a) for which a waiver is available, a properly completed waiver application for each such ground; and

(6) Either a Form I-864W, Intending Immigrant's I-864 Exemption, or a Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, as specified in 8 CFR 213a.2.

(e) Obtaining the home study and supporting evidence. The materials from the Form I-800A proceeding will be included in the record of the Form I-800 proceeding.

(f) Investigation. An investigation concerning the alien child's status as a Convention adoptee will be completed before the Form I-800 is adjudicated in any case in which the officer with jurisdiction to grant provisional or final approval of the Form I-800 determines, on the basis of specific facts, that completing the investigation will aid in the provisional or final adjudication of the Form I-800. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the case, the investigation may include, but is not limited to, document checks, telephone checks, interview(s) with the birth or prior adoptive parent(s), a field investigation, and any other appropriate investigatory actions. In any case in which there are significant differences between the facts presented in the approved Form I-800A or Form I-800 and the facts uncovered by the investigation, the office conducting the investigation may consult directly with the appropriate USCIS office. In any instance where the investigation reveals negative information sufficient to sustain a denial of the Form I-800 (including a denial of a Form I-800 that had been provisionally approved) or the revocation of the final approval of the Form I-800, the results of the investigation, including any supporting documentation, and the Form I-800 and its supporting documentation will be forwarded to the appropriate USCIS office for action. Although USCIS is not precluded from denying final approval of a Form I-800 based on the results of an investigation under this paragraph, the grant of provisional approval under paragraph (g), and the fact that the Department of State has given the notice contemplated by article 5(c) of the Convention, shall constitute prima facie evidence that the grant of adoption or custody for purposes of adoption will, ordinarily, warrant final approval of the Form I-800. The Form I-800 may still be denied, however, if the Secretary of State declines to issue the certificate provided for under section 204(d)(2) of the Act or if the investigation under this paragraph establishes the existence of facts that clearly warrant denial of the petition.

(g) Provisional approval. (1) The officer will consider the evidence described in paragraph (d) of this section and any additional evidence acquired as a result of any investigation completed under paragraph (f) of this section, to determine whether the preponderance of the evidence shows that the child qualifies as a Convention adoptee. Unless 8 CFR 204.309(b) prohibits approval of the Form I-800, the officer will serve the petitioner with a written order provisionally approving the Form I-800 if the officer determines that the child does qualify for classification as a “child” under section 101(b)(1)(G), and that the proposed adoption or grant of custody will meet the Convention requirements.

(i) The provisional approval will expressly state that the child will, upon adoption or acquisition of custody, be eligible for classification as a Convention adoptee, adjudicate any waiver application and (if any necessary waiver of inadmissibility is granted) direct the petitioner to obtain and present the evidence required under paragraph (h) of this section in order to obtain final approval of the Form I-800.

(ii) The grant of a waiver of inadmissibility in conjunction with the provisional approval of a Form I-800 is conditioned upon the issuance of an immigrant or nonimmigrant visa for the child's admission to the United States based on the final approval of the same Form I-800. If the Form I-800 is finally denied or the immigrant or nonimmigrant visa application is denied, the waiver is void.

(2) If the petitioner filed the Form I-800 with USCIS and the child will apply for an immigrant or nonimmigrant visa, then, upon provisional approval of the Form I-800, the officer will forward the notice of provisional approval, Form I-800, and all supporting evidence to the Department of State. If the child will apply for adjustment of status, USCIS will retain the record of proceeding.

(h) Final approval. (1) To obtain final approval of a provisionally approved Form I-800, the petitioner must submit to the Department of State officer who has jurisdiction of the child's application for an immigrant or nonimmigrant visa, or to the USCIS officer who has jurisdiction of the child's adjustment of status application, a copy of the following document(s):

(i) If the child is adopted in the Convention country, the adoption decree or administrative order from the competent authority in the Convention country showing that the petitioner has adopted the child; in the case of a married petitioner, the decree or order must show that both spouses adopted the child; or

(ii) If the child will be adopted in the United States:

(A) The decree or administrative order from the competent authority in the Convention country giving custody of the child for purposes of emigration and adoption to the petitioner or to an individual or entity acting on behalf of the petitioner. In the case of a married petitioner, an adoption decree that shows that the child was adopted only by one spouse, but not by both, will be deemed to show that the petitioner has acquired sufficient custody to bring the child to the United States for adoption by the other spouse;

(B) If not already provided before the provisional approval (because, for example, the petitioner thought the child would be adopted abroad, but that plan has changed so that the child will now be adopted in the United States), a statement from the primary provider, signed under penalty of perjury under United States law, summarizing the plan under 22 CFR 96.50 for monitoring of the placement until the adoption is finalized in the United States;

(C) If not already provided before the provisional approval (because, for example, the petitioner thought the child would be adopted abroad, but that plan has changed so that the child will now be adopted in the United States), a written description of the preadoption requirements that apply to adoptions in the State of the child's proposed residence and a description of when and how, after the child's immigration, the petitioner intends to complete the child's adoption. The written description must include a citation to the relevant State statutes or regulations and specify how the petitioner intends to comply with any requirements that can be satisfied only after the child arrives in the United States.

(2) If the Secretary of State, after reviewing the evidence that the petitioner provides under paragraph (h)(1)(i) or (ii) of this section, issues the certificate required under section 204(d)(2) of the Act, the Department of State officer who has jurisdiction over the child's visa application has authority, on behalf of USCIS, to grant final approval of a Form I-800. In the case of an alien who will apply for adjustment of status, the USCIS officer with jurisdiction of the adjustment application has authority to grant this final approval upon receiving the Secretary of State's certificate under section 204(d)(2) of the Act.

(i) Denial of Form I-800. (1) A USCIS officer with authority to grant provisional or final approval will deny the Form I-800 if the officer finds that the child does not qualify as a Convention adoptee, or that 8 CFR 204.309(b) of this section requires denial of the Form I-800. Before denying a Form I-800, the officer will comply with the requirements of 8 CFR 103.2(b)(16)), if required to do so under that provision, and may issue a request for evidence or a notice of intent to deny under 8 CFR 103.2(b)(8).

(2) The decision will be in writing, specifying the reason(s) for the denial and notifying the petitioner of the right to appeal, if any, as specified in 8 CFR 204.314.

(3) If a Department of State officer finds, either at the provisional approval stage or the final approval stage, that the Form I-800 is “not clearly approvable,” or that 8 CFR 204.309(b) warrants denial of the Form I-800, the Department of State officer will forward the Form I-800 and accompanying evidence to the USCIS office with jurisdiction over the place of the child's habitual residence for review and decision.

§204.314   Appeal.

(a) Decisions that may be appealed. (1) Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section:

(i) An applicant may appeal the denial of a Form I-800A (including the denial of a request to extend the prior approval of a Form I-800A) and

(ii) A petitioner may appeal the denial of a Form I-800.

(2) The provisions of 8 CFR 103.3, concerning how to file an appeal, and how USCIS adjudicates an appeal, apply to the appeal of a decision under this subpart C.

(b) Decisions that may not be appealed. There is no appeal from the denial of:

(1) Form I-800A because the Form I-800A was filed during any period during which 8 CFR 204.307(c) bars the filing of a Form I-800A; or

(2) Form I-800A for failure to timely file a home study as required by 8 CFR 204.310(a)(3)(viii); or

(3) Form I-800 that is denied because the Form I-800 was filed during any period during which 8 CFR 204.307(c) bars the filing of a Form I-800;

(4) Form I-800 filed either before USCIS approved a Form I-800A or after the expiration of the approval of a Form I-800A.

Need assistance?