Updated Home Studies and Significant Changes

You must update your home study when:

  • There is a significant change in your household (as defined below).
  • There is a change in the number or characteristics (such as age, gender, nationality, special need, disability, and/or impairment) of the child(ren) you intend to adopt or have adopted that was not previously assessed in the home study.
  • There is a change requiring the home study preparer to address state pre-adoption requirements or address a new state’s requirements if:
    • The child will be coming to the U.S. for adoption, and
    • Your home study does not address these requirements.
  • You request an extension of your Form I-600A or Form I-800A approval.
  • You request a change of country, if your home study did not recommend you for adoption from the new country.
  • At the time you submit your home study to USCIS, more than 6 months have passed since the home study preparer signed and dated the home study.

Updated Home Study Requirements

Every home study update must comply with applicable USCIS regulations. See the Universal Accreditation Act of 2012 (UAA) for information on slightly different requirements for cases that are not subject to the UAA.

For home study updates, USCIS requires that the home study preparer: 

  • Fully address anything that has changed since you submitted the last home study or updated home study to USCIS.
  • Update the required screening, including:
    • Updating the child abuse registry checks for the current residence and for any state or foreign country in which you or adult members of the household (AMHs) have resided since you last submitted a home study or home study update to USCIS. 
    • Re-asking questions about abuse or violence.
    • Re-asking questions about criminal history, and if applicable, rehabilitation.
  • Include the results, date, and location or other means (such as home visit, Skype call, etc.) of the updated screening.
  • Confirm that the other areas of the last home study or updated home study you submitted to USCIS have not changed.
  • Include a statement from the preparer that they have reviewed the home study being updated and are personally and fully aware of its contents.
  • Address whether the preparer recommends you for adoption and the specific reasons for the recommendation.
  • Sign and date the update.

Because USCIS views a home study as an ongoing process, USCIS does not require that the home study preparer conduct another home visit unless you have moved, the law of the jurisdiction requires it, or the home study preparer requires it. Instead, the home study preparer may conduct the above update requirements by any means—in person (at the home or another location) or by Skype, FaceTime, phone, email, etc.—but must state:

  • The number of interviews/visits;
  • The participants, date, and location/method of each interview/visit; and
  • The date and location/method of any required contacts.  

Updated Home Study Format

If a home study update complies with the Updated Home Study Requirements listed above, it may look like either an update that just addresses the circumstance(s) that require the update, or a new and complete home study. “Addendums” or “corrections” that do not address all the requirements above are not sufficient. The length of a home study update will vary depending on the circumstances. There are no limits to how many times a home study preparer can update a home study.

Significant Changes

If a significant change occurs in your household, you must submit an updated home study that reflects the significant change.

Significant changes include, but are not limited to, changes in the following:

  • Residence
  • Marital status*
  • Criminal history, abuse history, or other derogatory information
  • Significant decrease in financial resources
  • Household composition
  • Serious health conditions
  • Characteristics of the child requested

Special rules apply if the significant change is a change in marital status. See below for more information on the effect of a change in marital status at different points in the adoption process.

Duty of Disclosure

You, your spouse (if married), and the adult members of your household (AMHs) have an ongoing duty of disclosure throughout the intercountry adoption process, which includes:

  • While any Form I-600A/Form I-800A is pending;
  • After any Form I-600A/Form I-800A is approved;
  • While any Form I-600/Form I-800 is pending; and
  • Until there is a final decision admitting the child to the United States with a visa, or until final Form I-600/Form I-800 approval if you reside abroad and do not seek an immigrant visa for your child. 

This duty of disclosure requires that you, your spouse, and any AMHs notify the home study preparer and USCIS of any new event or information that might require you to submit an updated home study while this duty is ongoing.

Notifying USCIS of Significant Changes

While Form I-600A or Form I-600 is Pending

If a significant change occurs while your Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition, or Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, is pending, you should submit your updated home study to the USCIS National Benefits Center (NBC). Include a cover letter indicating that you are submitting an updated home study to address the significant change. Remember to sign your cover letter and be sure your home study preparer signs your updated home study.

While Form I-800A or Form I-800 is Pending

If a significant change occurs while your Form I-800A, Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country, is pending you should submit your updated home study to the USCIS National Benefits Center (NBC).  Include a cover letter indicating that you are submitting an updated home study to address the significant change. Remember to sign your cover letter and be sure your home study preparer signs your updated home study.

If a significant change occurs while your Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative, is pending (even if your underlying Form I-800A approval has expired), you should submit your updated home study using Form I-800A Supplement 3, Request for Action on Approved Form I-800A (PDF, 119 KB).

After Form I-600A or Form I-600 is Approved

If a significant change (other than a change in marital status) occurs after USCIS has approved your Form I-600A or Form I-600 (and before your duty of disclosure period ends), submit the following to the NBC:

  • A written request;
  • Your updated home study;
  • Your original home study; and
  • Any other home study updates.

Note: If USCIS concludes that your suitability approval remains appropriate, we will send you an updated approval notice.

After Form I-800A or Form I-800 is Approved

If a significant change (other than a change in marital status) occurs after USCIS has approved your Form I-800A or Form I-800, you should submit your updated home study using Form I-800A Supplement 3, Request for Action on Approved Form I-800A (PDF, 119 KB).

If you filed Form I-800 but experience a significant change (other than a change in marital status) after your underlying Form I-800A approval has expired, you should submit your updated home study using Form I-800A Supplement 3.

Changes in Marital Status

If your marital status changes after USCIS has approved your Form I-600A, Form I-600, Form I-800A, or Form I-800, you cannot submit a request for an updated approval notice. You must instead submit a new form with fee and an updated home study.  If you are married, your spouse must also sign the new form.

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