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Hague Home Study Guidelines

Home Study Preparer

Only an individual or entity defined as a home study preparer for Hague Convention cases may complete a home study for a Hague adoption. 

If the home study is conducted in the United States, the preparer must hold whatever license or authorization the law of that State requires of practicing home study preparers.  However, if the home study is conducted outside of the United States, the preparer must hold any license or authorization required to conduct home studies under the law of that country.

If the adoption service provider who prepares home studies abroad is also engaged in the provision of any adoption services in the United States, the adoption service provider must also be authorized or licensed to do so in any State in which the adoption service provider practices (see 8 CFR 204.301).

A home study preparer means an entity (whether an individual or an agency) that is authorized to conduct home studies for Hague adoption cases and includes:

  • A public domestic authority
  • An accredited agency
  • An approved person
  • A supervised provider
  • An exempted provider
  • Someone (if not a public domestic authority) who holds any license or other authorization required to conduct adoption home studies under the law of the jurisdiction in which the home study is conducted (see 22 CFR 96 and 8 CFR 204.301)

Validity

  • The home study must be submitted to USCIS within 6 months of the date the home study was completed.
  • If the home study is submitted after 6 months, it must include an update or an amendment that is not more than 6 months old.
  • If an update is submitted to USCIS, a full copy of the original home study must accompany the update, including all prior updates and amendments. 
  • A home study amendment or update is required when a significant change in the applicant’s household occurs such as a change in residence, marital status, criminal history, financial resources, and/or the addition of one or more children or other dependents to the family prior to the child’s immigration into the United States.

Requirements

During personal interviews and home study visits, the home study preparer must:

  • Conduct at least one interview in person.
  • Conduct at least one home visit with the prospective adoptive couple or the unmarried prospective adoptive parent.
  • Conduct at least one interview in person with each adult member of the prospective adoptive parents’ household.
  • Provide information on and assess the suitability of the applicant as the adoptive parent based on the applicant’s background, family and medical history, social environment, reasons for adoption, ability to undertake an intercountry adoption, and the characteristics of the child or children for whom they would be qualified to care.
  • 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 certain areas to be addressed are beyond his or her expertise.

Note: The above requirements apply to any adult member of the household.

Assessment of Physical, Mental & Emotional Health or Behavioral Issues

During an assessment of the prospective adoptive parent(s), the home study preparer must:

  • Make an initial assessment of the physical, mental and emotional health of the prospective adoptive parent(s) and each adult member of the household.
  • Include the preparer’s assessment of 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 placed in the home.
  • Make a referral to an appropriate licensed professional for evaluation when the home study reveals prior psychiatric care or issues arising from sexual abuse, child abuse or family violence if the home study preparer considers such referral(s) necessary or helpful to the proper completion of the home study.

Financial Considerations

The financial assessment must include:

  • A description of the income, financial resources, debts and expenses of the prospective adoptive parents.
  • A statement concerning the evidence that was considered to verify the source and amount of income and financial resources.
  • Validation that the income designated for the support of children in the care and custody of prospective adoptive parent(s) or any income designated for the support of another member of the household will not be counted towards the financial resources available for the support of the prospective adoptive child(ren).

Note: USCIS reserves the right to request detailed financial statements or supporting financial documents.

Criminal History and History of Abuse and/or Violence as an Offender

The home study preparer must:

  • Ask each prospective adoptive parent and each additional adult member of the household whether he or she has a history as an offender of substance abuse, sexual or child abuse, and/or family violence even if it did not result in an arrest or conviction.
  • Include in the evaluation dates of each arrest and/or conviction regarding substance abuse, sexual abuse, child abuse and/or family violence.
  • Determine dates or time periods of each occurrence if occurrence did not result in an arrest.
  • Include details of any mitigating circumstances about each occurrence.

Note: Each statement disclosing a history of abuse and/or violence as an offender must be signed by the prospective adoptive parent(s) or adult member of the household to whom the occurrence relates.

Duty to Disclose

The home study preparer must:

  • Receive full disclosure from each adult member of the household of any criminal arrest and/or previous conviction or other adverse criminal history in the U.S. or abroad, even if the record has been expunged, sealed, pardoned or the subject of any other amelioration.
  • Receive full disclosure regarding any other relevant information from each adult member of the household such as physical, mental or emotional health issues and/or behavioral issues.

State Standards

The home study preparer must also prepare the home study according to the requirements that apply to a domestic adoption in the State of the prospective adoptive parent(s)' actual or proposed residence in the United States.

Checking Available Child Abuse Registries

The home study preparer must:

  • Make a check of any available child abuse registries in any State or foreign country for each of the prospective adoptive parent(s) and for each adult member of the household in each State that they have resided in since that person’s 18th birthday.
  • Make a note of unavailability of information in the home study if the State will not release the information to either the home study preparer or the prospective adoptive parent(s) or an adult household member.  

Determining Suitability

The home study must contain:

  • An evaluation of the suitability of the home for adoptive placement of a child in light of the history of abuse and/or violence by the prospective adoptive parent(s) or additional adult member of the household as an offender.
  • A statement whether the information was disclosed by the prospective adoptive parent(s) or adult member of the household, or if it was discovered by the home study preparer.
  • Information identifying the agency involved in each prior or terminated home study to include when the prior home study process began, the date the prior home study was completed or terminated, the reason for the termination (if any) and whether the prior home study recommended the applicant or additional adult member of the household as suitable for adoption, foster care, or other custodial care of a child.

Evidence of Rehabilitation

If the prospective adoptive parent(s) or adult member of the household has a criminal history or history of substance abuse, sexual or child abuse and/or domestic violence, the home study preparer may make a favorable finding if the individual has achieved appropriate rehabilitation.

The home study must include:

  • A discussion of the claimed rehabilitation which demonstrates that the individual is suitable as an adoptive parent.
  • An evaluation of the seriousness of the arrest(s), conviction(s) and/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.
  • Any counseling or rehabilitation programs which have been successfully completed or a written opinion by an appropriate licensed professional.

Note: A favorable recommendation cannot be made while the individual with an adverse history is on probation, parole, supervised release, or other similar arrangement for any conviction.

Prior Home Study

The home study preparer must ask each prospective adoptive parent(s) and any adult member of the household whether he or she previously had a home study completed, or began the home study process in relation to an adoption (domestic or intercountry) or any form of custodial care, whether or not it was completed.

The home study must include:

  • Each individual’s response to the inquiry of prior home studies.
  • A copy of each previous rejection and/or unfavorable home study submitted to USCIS with Form I-800A, Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country.
  • An explanation if the prior home study is no longer available.
  • An evaluation of the relevance of any prior unfavorable or incompleted home study to the suitability of the individual as the adoptive parent of a Hague adoptee.

Living Accommodations

The home study must include:

  • A detailed description of the current living accommodations and if moving, the intended accommodations (if known).
  • A description of the living accommodations where the child will reside in the United States if the prospective adoptive parent(s) reside abroad (if known).
  • An assessment of the suitability of accommodations.
  • A determination of whether or not the living space meets the applicable State requirements (if any).

Addressing a Hague Convention Country’s Specific Requirements

The home study must include a full and complete statement of all facts relevant to the prospective adoptive parent’s eligibility for adoption in a Hague Convention country, in light of the specific adoption requirements of the Hague Convention country (if any) (See 8 CFR 204.311(q)).

Note: It is up to the Central Authority of the Hague Convention country to determine how its own adoption requirements should be applied in a given case.  Being ineligible to adopt in a Hague Convention country under its requirements will not warrant the denial of Form I-800A if USCIS finds that the applicant has otherwise established eligibility and suitability as the adoptive parent of a Hague adoptee.

Specific Approval for Adoption

The home study must include (as defined in 8 CFR 204.311(r)):

  • The home study preparer’s specific approval of the prospective adoptive parent(s) for adoption of a child from the specific Hague Convention country or countries.
  • A discussion of the reasons for such approval.
  • The number of children the prospective adoptive parent(s) may adopt at the same time.
  • Whether there are any specific restrictions to the adoption based on the age or gender, or other characteristics of the child.
  • Whether the home study preparer approved the prospective adoptive parent(s) for a handicapped or special needs adoption.

Handicapped or Special Needs Child

The home study must include a discussion of the preparation, willingness, and the ability of the prospective adoptive parent(s) to provide proper care for a child with a handicap or special needs.

If this information is not included in the original home study, an updated or amended home study will be necessary if the prospective adoptive parent(s) want to adopt a handicapped or special needs child.

Home Study Preparer’s Authority to Conduct Home Studies

The home study must include a statement certifying that the home study preparer is authorized to complete home studies for Hague adoption cases (See 8 CFR 204.311(s)).

The certifying statement must specify:

  • The State or country under whose authority the home study preparer is licensed or authorized.
  • The specific law or regulation authorizing the preparer to conduct home studies.
  • The license number and expiration date (if any) of the authorization or license.
  • The basis (i.e., public domestic authority, accredited agency, temporarily accredited agency, approved person, exempted provider, or supervised provider) for the home study preparer’s authorization to conduct Hague adoption home studies.

Home Study Preparer’s Signature

The home study preparer must personally sign the home study and any updated or amended home study. The preparer must declare, under penalty of perjury under U.S. law, that the study was either conducted or supervised by the home study preparer.  If the home study preparer did not conduct the study then the person who actually conducted the home study must be identified. 

Review of the Home Study

  • If the prospective adoptive parent(s) reside in a State which requires the State’s competent authority to review the home study, such review must occur and be documented before the home study is submitted to USCIS (See 8 CFR 204.311(t)).
  • When the home study is not initially performed by an accredited agency or a temporarily accredited agency, then an accredited agency or a temporarily accredited agency must review and approve the home study before the home study is submitted to USCIS (See 22 CFR 96.47(c)).
  • A home study prepared by a public domestic authority does not need the approval of an accredited agency or temporarily accredited agency.

Home Study Updates & Amendments

A home study amendment or update will be required when there is a significant change in the applicant’s household, such as a change in residence, marital status, criminal history, or financial resources.

Note: A change in marital status is a considerable change in the facts supporting a prior approval of Form I-800A.  Thus, approval of Form I-800A is automatically revoked if the marriage of an individual terminates or an unmarried individual marries prior to the final decision on a Hague adoptee’s application for admission with an immigrant visa or for adjustment of status.

Significant changes include:

  • An addition of one or more children in the prospective adoptive parent(s) home, whether through adoption or foster care, birth, or any other means.
  • An addition of other dependents or additional adult members(s) of the household prior to the prospective adoptive child’s immigration to the U.S.
  • Prospective adoptive parent(s) seeking to adopt a handicapped or special needs child if the home study did not address the suitability as the adoptive parent of a child with the particular handicap or special need.
  • A change to a different Hague Convention country.
  • If the home study is more than 6 months old between the date the home study is completed and the date it is submitted to USCIS.
  • A change to the child’s proposed State of residence.

Home study updates or amendments must include:

  • A full copy of the home study being updated or amended, including all prior updates and amendments.
  • A statement from the preparer that he or she has reviewed the update or amendment and is personally and fully aware of its contents.
  • Whether or not the home study preparer recommends approval of the proposed adoption and the supporting reasons.
  • An updated screening of the prospective adoptive parent(s) and any adult members of the household (with corresponding results) if the home study is being submitted because the original home study is more than 6 months old.
Last Reviewed/Updated: 03/30/2011