The Universal Accreditation Act of 2012
The Intercountry Adoption Universal Accreditation Act of 2012 (UAA) went into effect on July 14, 2014. Unless an exception applies, as of that date, the UAA requires that an accredited or approved adoption service provider (ASP) act as a primary provider in every “orphan” intercountry adoption case described under section 101(b)(1)(F) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, and that all agencies or persons that provide adoption services on behalf of prospective adoptive parents in such a case be accredited or approved, or be a supervised or exempted provider, in compliance with the Intercountry Adoption Act and Department of State accreditation regulations.
The affected forms are:
Under the UAA, the same accreditation requirement and standards that previously only applied in Hague Adoption Convention cases also apply to ASPs providing adoption services on behalf of prospective adoptive parents in an “orphan” (or non-Hague) intercountry adoption case.
The UAA assures families pursuing an intercountry adoption that regardless of the country from which they intend to adopt, the ASP they choose will need to comply with the same ethical standards of practice and conduct.
Impact on Form I-600A and Form I-600 Adjudications
Unless an exception applies, beginning July, 14, 2014, the UAA will impact Form I-600A applications and Form I-600 petitions in a variety of ways, including:
Only accredited agencies or approved persons can act as primary providers.
Applicants and Petitioners Acting on Their Own Behalf
Form I-600A applicants and Form I-600 petitioners may still act on their own behalf in adoption cases if permitted under the laws of the state in which they reside and the laws of the country from which they seek to adopt.
Although Form I-600A applicants and Form I-600 petitioners do not need accreditation or approval to act on their own behalf, their actions need to comply with applicable law, and they will still need an accredited agency or approved person to act as the primary provider in each case. A primary provider helps to ensure that orphan adoption services are provided with the same standards of practice and ethical conduct as Hague Adoption Convention cases. See below for Information on How the UAA Impacts Requests for Extensions, Change of Countries, Increased Number of Children, and Multiple Form I-600A filings.
When to Use an Accredited ASP
The UAA allows for grandfathering in certain situations. ASPs that provide adoption services in these UAA grandfathered cases do not need to be accredited to continue providing adoption services in these cases.
However, ASPs must be accredited in order to provide any adoption services on or after July 14, 2014, in cases that are not UAA grandfathered.
The following tables explain when you will be required to use an accredited ASP.
Information on How the UAA Impacts Completed Home Studies, Requests for Extensions, Change of Countries, Increased Number of Children, and Multiple Form I-600A filings
Completed Home Studies
Home studies and other adoption services completed prior to July 14, 2014, are not subject to the UAA. Therefore, a home study completed prior to July 14, 2014, generally will not need to comply with the new home study requirements. However, unless your case is UAA grandfathered, any required home study update or amendment (completed on or after July 14, 2014) must comply with the new home study requirements at 8 CFR 204.311 and be prepared by a person authorized under 22 CFR Part 96 to conduct home studies.
If USCIS issues a Request for Evidence asking you to correct a deficiency in a home study that was completed prior to July 14, 2014, (as opposed to an update or amendment), your corrected home study will not need to comply with the new home study requirements.
You may continue to request extensions of an approved Form I-600A application – regardless of whether or not the approval is UAA grandfathered.
Beginning July 14, 2014, any newly prepared home study or home study update or amendment submitted with the extension request must meet UAA requirements. It must also be prepared by a person authorized under 22 CFR Part 96 to conduct home studies, unless your case is UAA grandfathered. [Note: A UAA-grandfathered Form I-600A approval for which you timely request extension remains UAA grandfathered.]
Please visit our Web page on Extensions and Validity Periods for more information.
Change of Country Requests
You may continue to request to change your intended country of adoption from one non-Convention country to another non-Convention country.
Beginning July 14, 2014, any newly prepared home study or home study update or amendment submitted with the change of country request must meet UAA requirements. It must also be prepared by a person under 22 CFR Part 96 to conduct home studies for Hague Adoption Convention cases. [Note: The UAA does not apply to UAA-grandfathered Form I-600A approvals for which you timely request a change of country.]
Please visit our Web page on Change of Country for more information.
Requests to Increase the Number of Children Approved to Adopt
A UAA-grandfathered Form I-600A approval is grandfathered only for the number of children you were approved to adopt before July 14, 2014.
Beginning July 14, 2014, you may still seek to increase the number of children that you are approved to adopt provided that you have not already filed Form I-600 petitions for the number of children you were approved to adopt. However, the UAA will apply to any such increase on or after July 14, 2014. The only exception is for additional birth siblings who are adopted at the same time as a child whose case is UAA grandfathered.
Otherwise, the UAA will apply to additional children you are approved to adopt beyond the number approved before July 14, 2014.
The table below gives examples of UAA-grandfathered Form I-600A scenarios:
Filing a Second Form I-600A Application
If you previously extended your UAA-grandfathered Form I-600A approval, USCIS will allow you to file a second UAA-grandfathered Form I-600A application (with fee), and its timely one-time, no-fee extension, if you:
However, if your originally extended UAA-grandfathered Form I-600A approval expires before you file a second Form I-600A application, then your second Form I-600A application will not be UAA grandfathered and must comply with the UAA requirements.
Filing Multiple Form I-600A Applications
If you file multiple Form I-600A applications, then each application filed before July 13, 2013, will be considered UAA grandfathered only for the number of children you were approved to adopt before July 14, 2014. See Requests to Increase the Number of Children Approved to Adopt above for more information.
The table below gives two examples of filing multiple Form I-600A applications:
Last Reviewed/Updated: 09/10/2014