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Background Checks

As part of the process to immigrate your adopted child to the United States, USCIS will conduct a background check on you, your spouse, and any household member of age 18 or older.

The background check is a required part of the adoption process.

Fingerprint-Based Criminal Records Check

The validity period of your fingerprint check will be noted on your Notice of Approval (I-171H or I-797). Your fingerprints never “expire” but the validity period of background check and clearance based on the collection of your fingerprints is 15 months.

The validity period of your background check and clearance may be different than the validity period of the approval of your Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition, or I-800A, Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country.  

Differing Validity Periods

If you are filing a Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphans as an Immediate Relative or Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative and the validity of your Form I-600A or Form I-800A approval is current but the validity of your background check and clearance check has expired, then advise the National Benefits Center (NBC) via e-mail at:

OR

Include the prospective parent(s) name(s) and receipt number from your approved Form I-600A or I-800A in the e-mail.

The NBC will then:

  • instruct you on the submission of any required fees (via Request for Evidence (RFE) I-72)

and

  • schedule you for fingerprints

Note: the Lockbox is unable to accept fees for fingerprinting unless the request is submitted with a proper form (I-600/600A, I-800/800A or Request For Evidence).   Biometrics fees and requests for fingerprinting that are submitted to the Lockbox without a proper form will be rejected and returned to the applicant.

Your background check and clearance must be valid at the time your Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, or Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative, is processed; regardless of whether your Form I-600A or I-800A Notice of Approval is still valid.

Hague Cases

Checking Available Child Abuse Registries

In a Hague Intercountry Adoption Convention case, your home study preparer must check available child abuse registries for you, your spouse and each additional adult member of your household. This must be addressed in the home study.

  • Child abuse registries must be checked in any State or foreign country that you, your spouse and any adult member of your household has resided in since that individual’s 18th birthday
  • USCIS may also conduct its own check of any child abuse registries

The home study preparer must take one of the following courses of action:

  • Allowed Access: If the home study preparer is allowed access to the child abuse registries, he/she must make the appropriate checks for the applicant and each additional adult member of the household
  • Permission Required: 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 child abuse registries, the home study preparer must secure such permission and make the appropriate checks
  • Information Only to Individual: if the State or foreign country will only release information from the child abuse registry to the individual to whom the information relates, the prospective adoptive parents and adult members of the household must secure and provide information to the home study preparer
  • No Release: if the State or foreign country will not release information to the home study provider or the prospective adoptive parents or adult household member, the home study preparer must note the unavailability of information in the home study

Orphan (Non-Hague) Cases

Screening for Abuse and Violence

  • In an orphan case, your home study preparer must make a check of any available child abuse registry for you, your spouse and any adult member of your household in your current State or foreign country of residence
  •  If your current State or foreign country will not release information to the home study provider or the prospective adoptive parents or adult household member, the home study preparer must note the unavailability of information in the home study
Last Reviewed/Updated: 03/30/2011