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Orphan Home Study Guidelines

Home Study Preparer

A home study preparer is any party licensed or otherwise authorized under the law of the State of the orphan’s proposed residence to conduct the research including the required personal interview(s) and preparation for a home study.

A Home Study Preparer includes:

  • A public agency with authority under that State’s law in adoption matters.
  • Public or private adoption agencies licensed or otherwise authorized by the laws of that State to place children for adoption.
  • Organizations or individuals licensed or otherwise authorized to conduct the research and preparation for a home study to include the required personal interview(s) under the laws of the State of the orphan’s proposed residence.

In the case of an orphan whose adoption has been finalized abroad and whose adoptive parents reside abroad:

  • The home study preparer includes any party licensed or otherwise authorized to conduct home studies under the law of any State of the United States.
  • Any party licensed or otherwise authorized by the foreign country’s adoption authorities to conduct home studies under the laws of the foreign country.

Validity of the Home Study

  • The home study must be submitted within one year of the filing date of the Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition.
  • The home study, or most recent update to the home study, must not be more than 6 months old at the time it is submitted to USCIS.
  • If an update is submitted, a full copy of the original home study must accompany the update. 
  • Once a home study is submitted, it will not have to be updated unless there is a significant change (including but not limited to) 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 orphan’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 any adult member of the prospective adoptive parents’ household
  • State the number of interviews conducted
  • State the number of home visits
  • Summarize any other contact with the prospective adoptive parents and any adult member of the prospective adoptive parents' household

Assessment to Properly Parent an Orphan

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

  • Make an initial assessment of the physical, mental and emotional health of the prospective adoptive parent.
  • 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, if beyond the home study preparer’s expertise.
  • Apply all requirements to each adult member of the prospective adoptive parent’s household.

Financial Assessment

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.
  • Proof that 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 orphan.

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

Criminal History and/or History of Abuse and/or Violence

In screening for abuse and/or violence, the home study preparer must:

  • Check any available child abuse registry for each of the prospective adoptive parent(s) and for each adult member of the prospective adoptive parents' household.
  • Annotate 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.

In addition, the home study preparer must:

  • Ask each prospective adoptive parent whether he or she has a history of substance abuse, sexual or child abuse, or domestic violence, even if it did not result in an arrest or conviction; the response to each question must be included in the home study.
  • Ask any additional adult member(s) of the household whether he or she has a history of substance abuse, sexual or child abuse, or domestic violence, even if it did not result in an arrest or conviction; the response to each question must be included in the home study.
  • Receive full disclosure by each adult member of the household of any criminal arrest and/or previous conviction.

The home study evaluation must include:

  • Information concerning all arrests and/or convictions, history of any substance abuse, history of any sexual or child abuse, and/or history of any domestic violence along with the date of each occurrence.
  • A certified copy of the documentation showing final disposition of any incident which resulted in arrest, indictment, conviction and/or any judicial judgment or administrative action.
  • A signed statement from the prospective adoptive parent(s) giving details including mitigating circumstances (if any) about each incident.

Note: All of the above applies to each adult member of the prospective adoptive parent’s household.

In making a favorable decision regarding evidence of rehabilitation, when the adoptive parent(s) has a criminal history or history of substance abuse, sexual or child abuse, and/or domestic violence, the home study preparer must include:

  • A discussion of rehabilitation which demonstrates that the prospective adoptive parent(s) will be able to provide proper care for the orphan.
  • An evaluation of the seriousness or the arrest(s), conviction(s), and/or history of abuse.
  • The number of such incidents.
  • The length of time since the last incident.
  • Any counseling or rehabilitation programs which have been successfully completed.
  • Evidence of rehabilitation by an appropriate licensed professional (if any).
  • All facts and circumstances which were considered.
  • Home study preparer’s reasons for a favorable home study decision.

Note: All of the above applies to each adult member of the prospective adoptive parents' household.

Failure to Disclose

Failure to disclose information by the adoptive parent(s) or any adult member of the household concerning all arrests and/or convictions, history of any substance abuse, history of any sexual or child abuse, and/or history of any domestic violence along with the date of each occurrence to either the home preparer or to USCIS, may result in the denial of the advanced processing application and orphan petition.

Previous Rejection for Adoption and/or a Prior Unfavorable Home Study

If the prospective adoptive parent(s) has previously been rejected or received an unfavorable home study, the home preparer must:

  • Obtain the reason for such findings.
  • Attach a copy of each previous rejection and/or unfavorable home study to accompany the favorable home study.
  • Apply requirements to any adult member of the household.

Living Accommodations

The home study must include:

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

Handicapped or Special Needs Orphan

The home preparer must discuss the prospective adoptive parent(s) preparation, willingness, and ability to provide proper care for such an orphan.

Summary of the Counseling Given and Plans for Post Placement Counseling

The counseling summary must include: 

  • A discussion of the processing of expenses and the difficulties and delays associated with international adoptions.
  • Any plans for post placement counseling.

Specific Approval of the Prospective Adoptive Parent(s) for Adoption

The home study must include:

  • The home study preparer’s specific approval
  • A discussion of the reasons for approval
  • The number of orphans that may be adopted
  • If there are any specific restrictions such as, nationality, age or gender of the orphan
  • If the prospective adoptive parent(s) are approved for a handicapped or a special needs adoption
  • The original signature of the preparer/agency completing the recommendation

Home Study Preparer’s Certification and Statement of Authority to Conduct Home Studies

The home study preparer must be licensed or otherwise authorized to conduct home studies in the State of the orphan’s proposed residence if the prospective adoptive parent(s) reside in the United States.

In the case of an orphan whose adoption was finalized abroad, and whose adoptive parent(s) reside abroad:

  • The home study preparer must certify he or she is licensed or otherwise authorized to conduct home studies under the law of ANY State of the United States, or authorized by the adoption authorities of the foreign country to conduct home studies under the laws of the foreign country.
  • The statement must cite the State or country under whose authority the home study preparer is licensed or authorized, the specific law or regulation authorizing the preparer, and the authorization expiration date (if any).

Review of the Home Study

  • If the prospective adoptive parent(s) reside in a State which requires the State to review the home study, such review must occur and be documented before the home study is submitted to USCIS.
  • If the prospective adoptive parent(s) reside abroad, an appropriate public or private adoption agency (licensed or otherwise authorized by any U.S. State that places children for adoptions) must review and favorably recommend the home study before it is submitted to USCIS.

Home Study Update

If a home study is more than 6 months old at the time of submission to USCIS, it must be accompanied by an update.

Amendments

If at any time there have been any significant changes prior to the child’s arrival, additional information will be requested that includes but is not limited to the following:

  • The prospective adoptive parent(s) current residence.
  • The prospective adoptive parent(s) marital status.
  • Any criminal history or abuse regarding the prospective adoptive parent(s).
  • The prospective adoptive parent(s) current financial resources.
  • Any information regarding the addition of one or more children or other dependents.
Last Reviewed/Updated: 03/30/2011