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Frequently Asked Questions: Grandfathered Forms I-600A Approvals for Adoptions from China or Guatemala

Q: Why is USCIS issuing this announcement now?

A: We published a policy memo, Addressing Upcoming Expiration of Status for Certain Chinese and Guatemalan “Grandfathered” Orphan Adoption Cases, on 07/09/2012.  We want to explain the changes in the intercountry adoption processes to prospective adoptive parents who are adopting from China or Guatemala and who have approved Form I-600A applications.

Q: Does this policy affect the rules of other countries?

A: No.  This guidance pertains only to China and Guatemala.  You still must meet the requirements of the child’s country of origin to successfully complete an intercountry adoption.

CHINA
 
Q: I am adopting a child from China.   My original Form I-600A was filed before April 1, 2008 (Implementation date of the Hague Adoption Convention) and I received a second Form I-600A approval under the previous USCIS grandfather policy.   Is it possible to request an extension or file a third Form I-600A?

A:  Each Form I-600A approval may be extended an additional 18 months as long as you make the request before it has expired.  To submit a request for extension, provide a written request for an extension of your approved Form I-600A to the National Benefits Center or USCIS office abroad that approved your application. If you have already filed a second Form I-600A under the grandfathering provisions and have extended it for an additional 18 months, you may not now file a third Form I-600A.  Instead, for cases involving children from China, once the extension of the grandfathered Form I-600A approval expires, prospective adoptive parents now need to file a Form I-800A to continue with their adoption from China. 

(Note:  This guidance applies only to Chinese cases that were “grandfathered” at the time the China became party to the Hague Adoption Convention.  New cases involving Chinese children who have been or will be adopted after April 1, 2008 must use the Hague process.  For the most current filing information, or case specific information, contact the National Benefits Center at (877) 424-8374.)   
 
Q: When I file a Form I-800A or a Form I-800, will I have to pay the filing fee?

A: Yes.  You will need to file each form with fee, according to the filing instructions on http://www.uscis.gov/forms.

Q: What big changes will I see in switching from the old orphan process to the new Hague process?

A: Other than the change in form type, you should see very little change in the process, because the country-specific requirements for China are already Hague-compliant, whether you are continuing in the orphan process of switching to the Hague process. 

Q: What about my place in line for a match in China?  Does changing from the orphan to Hague process mean my adoption case will go to the end of the line, behind all the families who have already filed Forms I-800A?

A:  The Chinese Central Authority has assured the U.S. Department of State that any parents converting their orphan cases to Hague cases will keep their “place in line” for a match with a child and will still be eligible to adopt from China.  Please note, however, that USCIS does not have any control over when and how the Chinese Central Authority decides to make adoption placements.  (Note: USCIS also understands from the Department of State that the Chinese Central Authority has agreed that you will remain eligible to adopt even if you do not meet the newer eligibility requirements that China put in place since you began the intercountry adoption process in China.)

Q: Can you give some examples of how the end of “grandfathering” works for China adoptions and what steps I need to take to keep my “place in line”?

A: Yes, please see below.

  • EXAMPLE:  You filed your Form I-600A before April 1, 2008.  We approved your one no-fee extension, your second paid grandfathered Form I-600A and its extension.  Your last grandfathered extension expires on October 4, 2012.  You file the Form I-800A in July of 2012.  Since you filed the Form I 800A before the approval of your grandfathered Form I-600A expired, China will continue processing your adoption case, and you will not lose your “place in line”.  China’s orphan-process requirements are almost exactly the same as their Hague process requirements.
  • EXAMPLE:   You filed your Form I-600A before April 1, 2008.  We approved your one no-fee extension, your second paid grandfathered Form I-600A and its extension.  Your last grandfathered extension expires on September 7, 2012.  You file the Form I-800A in November of 2012.  Since you filed the Form I 800A after the approval of your grandfathered Form I-600A expired, you may experience delays in processing your case, which may adversely affect your case in China.

GUATEMALA

Q: I am adopting a child from Guatemala.   My Form I-600A was filed before April 1, 2008 (Implementation date of the Hague Adoption Convention).  Does the new USCIS grandfather policy work the same way in Guatemala as in China?

A: No.  The Hague process is currently unavailable for Guatemala as the Department of State, in its capacity as the U.S. Central Authority, has determined that Guatemala’s adoption system is not Hague compliant.  Therefore, once a grandfathered extension expires, prospective adoptive parents adopting from Guatemala will no longer have an avenue to continue with the adoption if they have not filed their Form I-600 petition.   For this reason, USCIS is accepting the filing of Form I-600 petitions for these cases even if you have not obtained all necessary documentation in Guatemala including a final adoption decree.  Once your Form I-600 petition is filed with USCIS, it does not have an expiration date and will remain open until a decision is rendered on your case.

Prospective adoptive parents whose second no-fee extension is nearing expiration must file Form I-600 petition on behalf of their matched child before their Form I-600A approval expires to preserve their grandfathered status.  Prospective adoptive parents may either:

  • File a Form I-600 petition with USCIS Guatemala City either in person or through a legal representative. The filing should include as much supporting documentation on behalf of the specific child as available. Please email USCIS Guatemala City with any questions: Guatemala.adoptions@dhs.gov, or
  • Parents may also choose to file their Form I-600 petition domestically at the Dallas Lockbox facility. The Lockbox facility will forward properly filed petitions to the USCIS National Benefits Center (NBC), which will transfer them to USCIS Guatemala City for final adjudication.


Q: I do not have all the documents that USCIS Guatemala City normally requires to file a Form I-600 petition.  Can I still file the Form I 600?

A: Yes. You can file your Form I 600 petition without all of the normally required Guatemala-specific supporting documents.  USCIS Guatemala City must receive all required supporting documentation before it can make a final decision on your case; however, they are not required at the time of filing.


Q: May I still request my one-time, no-fee extension of my second Form I-600A approval?

A: Yes.  Each Form I-600A may be extended an additional 18 months if the grandfathered approval has not expired.  To submit a request a request for extension of the grandfathered approval, provide a written request for an extension of the Form I-600A to the National Benefits Center or USCIS office abroad that approved your application. 

(Note: If you plan to adopt multiple children, or to adopt from a different country than Guatemala using your existing Form I-600A approval, you might want to extend your Form I-600A approval.  To request this extension, submit a written request for an extension of your approved Form I-600A to the USCIS National Benefits Center or USCIS office abroad that approved your application.  USCIS does not have a specific form to fill out for this extension.  You need to submit an updated/amended home study with your written request for a one-time, no-fee extension of your valid, approved Form I 600A.  Submit the request no earlier than 90 days before the expiration of the Form I-600A, but before the approval expires.  If your request for an extension is approved, the validity of the Form I-600A will be extended 18 months from the expiration date of the original approval.)

Q: I already extended my grandfathered Form I 600A approval once.  Why can’t I extend it again?

A: U.S. regulations governing Form I-600A approvals only allow for one extension, so we are unable to allow for multiple extensions.  If you have a grandfathered adoption case for a Guatemalan child and would like to keep your case active, we recommend that you file a Form I-600 petition before your Form I-600A approval expires.  USCIS is accepting the filing of Form I-600 petitions for these grandfathered Guatemalan cases even if you have not obtained all necessary documentation in Guatemala including a final adoption decree.  Once your Form I-600 petition is filed with USCIS, it does not have an expiration date and will remain open until a decision is rendered on your case.

Q:  How do I know if my case is grandfathered?

A:  Prospective adoptive parents may continue as a grandfathered case under the orphan process if they completed the Guatemalan adoption or filed either of these Forms before April 1, 2008:

Please note that the Government of Guatemala must also consider your case grandfathered under its adoption laws, and USCIS cannot control their decision on whether or not your case will be considered grandfathered from their end.

Q: My Form I-600A approval already expired. Does this policy let me file a Form I-600 anyway?

A: No.  Your Form I 600A approval must be valid on the filing date of the Form I 600.  The filing date is the date USCIS receives the petition, not the mailing date.

Q: If my Form I-600A approval already expired, can I file a new Form I 600A?

A: While you may file a new Form I-600A application to initiate a non-Hague adoption, a newly filed Form I-600A cannot support your previously grandfathered adoption in Guatemala.  Unfortunately, if you had not filed either a new Form I-600A application or a Form I-600 petition before your Form I-600A approval expired, you have lost your grandfathered status.  Until the Government of Guatemala can meet the requirements of the Hague Adoption Convention, only grandfathered cases are eligible for continued processing under the U.S. non-Hague process.

Q: Can you give some examples of how the “grandfathering” works for Guatemala adoptions?

A: Yes, please see below.

  • EXAMPLE:  You filed your Form I-600A before April 1, 2008, USCIS approved the application on November 3, 2009, with the approval expiring on May 3, 2011.  You requested and received a one-time extension, with the new expiration of November 3, 2012.  You file a Form I-600 petition in July of 2012.  Since you filed the Form I 600 before the approval of your grandfathered Form I-600A expired, USCIS will continue processing your adoption case.
  • EXAMPLE:   You filed your Form I-600A before April 1, 2008, USCIS approved your Form I-600A application and subsequent extension request with the extended approval expiring on August 1, 2011.  On July 29, 2011, you mailed your Form I 600 petition to the USCIS National Benefits Center (NBC).  NBC received it August 2, 2011.  Your Form I-600 was denied because the Form I-600A was expired by the time we received it. 
  • EXAMPLE:   You filed your Form I-600A before April 1, 2008 and we approved the application.  You filed a Form I-600 petition with all required documents in March 2008, just before the United States implemented the Hague Adoption Convention.  The Government of Guatemala has now requested new documents before it can make a final determination whether you can adopt the child.  USCIS will wait until the Government of Guatemala makes its determination, and if you are able to complete the adoption in Guatemala and submit the final adoption documents to USCIS, we will be able to make a final decision on your petition.  (Note: if the Government of Guatemala determines that the child named in your petition is not available for adoption by you and informs USCIS of this determination, we will contact you to discuss next steps.)
  • EXAMPLE:   You filed your Form I-600A before April 1, 2008 and your grandfathered approval will expire on November 14, 2012.  Under the new grandfathered policy, you may not file a third Form I-600A application. Instead you may file a Form I-600 petition on behalf of your Guatemalan matched child even if you do not have all the documents typically required for a Form I-600 filing.  USCIS will wait until the Government of Guatemala makes its determination, and if you are able to complete the adoption in Guatemala and submit the final adoption documents to USCIS, we will be able to make a final decision on your petition.  (Note: if the Government of Guatemala determines that the child named in your petition is not available for adoption by you and informs USCIS of this determination, we will contact you to discuss next steps.)
Last Reviewed/Updated: 08/01/2012