Dept of State Annoucement: Nepal

30 08 2010

The Dept of State, Office of Children’s Issues has issued the following announcement regarding Nepal.  This announcement can also be viewed on their website at http://adoption.state.gov/news/nepal_processing_procedures.html.  Any further information obtained by Joint Council will be posted as soon as it is available.

New Orphan Processing Procedures

for Cases not Subject to the Suspension in Nepal

August 30, 2010

Summary:

In an effort to protect the interests of U.S. prospective adoptive parents who are adopting from Nepal, the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu is implementing new procedures to ensure that the adoptive child will be eligible to immigrate to the United States BEFORE the prospective adoptive parents travel to Nepal and complete the Nepali adoption process.  The procedures in this announcement apply only to prospective adoptive parents who were officially matched with Nepali children prior to August 6, 2010, and whose Form I-600, Petition to Classify an Orphan as an Immediate Relative, has not yet been adjudicated.  If prospective adoptive parents whose cases meet these qualifications choose to follow the procedures outlined below, the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu will determine whether the children for whom they are petitioning meet the definition of orphan under U.S. law – one of the requirements for approval of the Form I-600 petition and visa issuance.  End summary.

Background:

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Department of State have encountered inconsistent and unreliable documentation regarding the reported abandonment of children for adoption in Nepal.  These problems led the U.S. government to suspend processing of new orphan cases involving Nepali children claimed to have been abandoned, effective August 6.  However, a number of cases were already underway as of that date and are now being processed to conclusion.

On August 27, 2010, the USCIS delegated authority to the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu to approve any Form I-600, Petition to Classify an Orphan as an Immediate Relative, on behalf of a Nepali child residing in Nepal who is and whose case is exempt from the suspension of processing announced August 6, 2010.  The exemption applies to cases in which the prospective adoptive parents: 1) received an official referral letter from the Government of Nepal’s Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare (MOWCSW) prior to August 6, 2010, informing them of a proposed match, or 2) who seek to adopt a Nepali child who has been relinquished by known parent(s) and whose identity and relationship can be confirmed.

Prospective adoptive parents involved in a case exempt from the suspension are strongly encouraged to file their completed Form I-600 petition with the U.S. Embassy Kathmandu prior to traveling to Nepal to finalize the adoption.  The Embassy will then complete the required Form I-604 Determination of Child for Adoption (sometimes referred to as the “orphan investigation”) and inform the prospective adoptive parents of the results.


Procedures:

Prospective adoptive parents who wish to participate in this program should send their completed, signed Form I-600 petition and supporting documents (other than the adoption order), including a copy of the Government of Nepal’s official referral letter dated prior to August 6, 2010, if available, through their U.S. adoption service provider to their local agency representative in Nepal.  Local agency representatives may deliver Form I-600 petitions and supporting documents to the Embassy’s American Citizen Services (ACS) Unit Monday through Friday between the hours of 1:30 and 4:00 p.m.  They should tell the Embassy security guard that they are coming to deliver adoption documents. All Form I-600 petitions and supporting documents (other than the adoption order) should be delivered in person by local agency representatives. Prospective adoptive parents should not mail Form I-600 petitions or supporting documents directly to the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu.

Upon delivery of the Form I-600 petition and supporting documents, the local agency representative will be given written confirmation from the Embassy that the documents have been received.  A consular officer will perform a preliminary review of the case to ensure that the Form I-600 petition has been properly completed and signed (and includes the appropriate fee, if required) and that all of the required documents have been submitted to enable the Embassy to initiate the I-604 investigation.  If the petition and supporting documents are in order, the case will be added to the list of cases pending an I-604 investigation.

The MOWCSW has informed the U.S. Embassy it is willing to grant extensions on the 60 day period between the date of the authorization to travel letter and finalizing the adoptions in Nepal, to give the Embassy time to complete the required I-604 investigation. Prospective adoptive parents who have received the MOWCSW’s travel authorization letter should include a copy with the documents that their local agency representative delivers to the ACS Unit.  After the Embassy confirms that the prospective adoptive parents have received an official referral letter from the MOWCSW dated prior to August 6, 2010, the Embassy will request an extension of the 60 days in writing from the MOWCSW on behalf of the prospective adoptive parents.  A copy of the Embassy’s letter requesting the extension will be provided to the prospective adoptive parents by email for their records. When the Embassy receives a response from the Ministry, the Embassy will share this response with the prospective adoptive parent.

If, after completing the Form I-604 investigation of the case, the Embassy finds that the evidence establishes that the beneficiary child is an orphan under U.S. immigration law, the prospective adoptive parents will be notified in writing that they may travel to Nepal to complete their adoption.

Upon completion of the adoption, the Embassy will be able to complete the adjudication of the Form I-600.  Note that the I-604 Investigation results are not the only consideration in the I-600 adjudication.

If the Form I-600 Petition is approved, further documents (such as the child’s medical report, etc.) will be required at that time for the visa interview.  These documents could affect the child’s eligibility to receive an IR-3 or IR-4 immigrant visa.

Notification from the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu to travel and complete an adoption following these procedures should therefore not be construed as a guarantee that the Form I-600 petition will be approved or that the child will be issued an immigrant visa. After their adoption is finalized, the adoptive parents or their local agency representative should submit the original adoption order and the child’s Nepali passport to the Embassy and request an immigrant visa appointment.  If Embassy Kathmandu determines that the Form I-600 petition is not clearly approvable, the prospective adoptive parents will be notified in writing that the Embassy has forwarded their Form I-600 petition and supporting documents to USCIS New Delhi for further review and action.

With the exception of those families already in Nepal at the time of this announcement, USCIS and the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu will process the Form I-600 petitions in the order that they are filed, regardless of whether the petitioner is in Nepal.  If a petitioner chooses to travel to Nepal to file the Form I-600 petition after the date of this announcement, the petitioner should anticipate a lengthy stay in Nepal while the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu conducts the required investigation and while USCIS conducts any necessary review.

Domestically Filed Form I-600 Petitions for Children from Nepal:

Effective immediately, the USCIS National Benefits Center (NBC) will forward any pending Form I-600 petitions filed domestically on behalf of children from Nepal to the National Visa Center (NVC) and notify the petitioner(s) of the transfers.  In addition, any Form I-600 petition received by the NBC after August 6, 2010 will be forwarded to the NVC.  Once the NVC receives a Form I-600 petition from the NBC, it will scan the documents and forward the case to the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu for processing.

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