Can you say “RFEs”?

USCIS has recently issued its interim guidance on how I-600, orphan petitions, will be adjudicated under the new law.  Everybody with a pending I-600A or I-600 should expect to receive Requests for Evidence  (“RFEs”) or even a  Notices of Intent to Deny (NOIDs) as the individual officers work on adjudicating these applications.

This applies to anyone who filed an I-600A or I-600 after July 13, 2013, as long as they weren’t matched with a child or in process overseas before that date.

Prove you are not subject to the UAA

The first issue that we can expect to see is a request for people who are not subject to the UAA to prove it by either submitting proof that they filed an I-600A or I-600 before July 13, 2013 or submitting proof that they submitted an application to a competent authority before July 13, 2013.

What you can do: Make sure you have copies of receipt notices and/or applications made to the competent authority of your child’s home country prior to the cut off date.

If the adjudicator determines, based on the evidence that a petition is subject to the UAA- he or will then determine whether your documentation shows compliance with the new law.

Home studies

Home studies which are completed after July 14 of 2014 must comply with the new regulations. This means that the home study must be performed by an accredited provider or someone who is supervised by an accredited provider.  It also means that the home study must cover certain things that were not traditionally covered in non-Hague home studies.

Your accredited home study provider will be very familiar with the requirements for home studies under the UAA as they mirror Hague home study requirements.

What you can do now: Contact your home study provider now and ensure that that your home study is compliant. If it is not, then the home study provider will need to do an update to make the home study compliant with the new regulations.

Identifying a primary provider

If the UAA applies to you, you now have to identify a primary provider.  The primary provider  is responsible for ensuring that any adoption service (there are six) is carried out accordance to applicable laws and regulations; supervising providers (where used/required) and developing a case plan (note that this will require supervision agreements to be put in place now) , indicating which person, provider or entity is doing what.

What you can do now: First, secure a primary provider who agrees to be responsible for your case. Regardless of where you are adopting from, the primary provider will be responsible for all adoption services in the United States. If you are adopting from a country that requires you to follow a certain procedure or requires you to use certain types of providers in that country, then supervision agreements may be needed with the foreign providers. If you are adopting from a country that allows you to proceed privately, then the primary provider will not be held responsible for supervising adoption services overseas.  Regardless of where you are adopting from, the primary provider is responsible for creating a case plan indicating what adoption services are to be performed, and who will be performing them.

Keep in mind the following:

Most primary providers will be adoption agencies and most adoption agencies do not have immigration attorneys on staff.  Many primary providers are unsure about the law and what is required of them.  They are also in the unfortunate position of having to take action on cases before final regulations are on place- all we have is interim guidance.

Those of you adopting from Ethiopia and Taiwan will have separate procedures. It is strongly advisable that your primary provider have experience with those countries if you seek to adopt from either one.

If you receive a Request for Evidence or even a Notice of Intent to Deny, do not panic. We will be seeing many RFEs and NOIDs over the following months as adjudicators start to process these types of cases.  It’s my experience that there are few problems in life, and few problems in immigration, that we cannot solve. Everyone will is working on becoming accustomed to these new changes in the law together. Most RFEs and NOIDs pertaining to the UAA will have little to do with the underlying merit of the case. They will be essentially document requests. This is a good thing.  RFEs and NOIDs for failure to comply with orphan status will remain the major obstacle in “orphan cases.” But again, with diligence, patience and the right advice, most petitions are approvable.