• Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) Card

    According to the Embassy of India Consular Services:

    It is informed that VFS Global is the service provider for OCI services for the Embassy of India, Washington DC or its Consulates in Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, New York and San Francisco. Its operations have started from 04 November 2020.

    All the OCI applicants are requested to visit the link https://visa.vfsglobal.com/usa/en/ind/apply-oci-services for details.

    Apart from the applicable Government of India OCI fees, the applicants will also be required to pay US$ 15.90 as service charge to VFS Global and US$ 3 as contribution to Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF).

    In case of any other specific queries related to OCI services, please email to fsoci.washington@mea.gov.in

    The details of the VFS Global Application Centre are as under:

    1025 Vermont Ave, NW

    Suite 320,

    Washington, DC 20005

    (It may also be noted that due to the ongoing Covid pandemic, there will be no walk-in service at VFS Global until further notice.  All applications shall only be dealt with by post.)

  • CCCWA Temporary Hold On Processing Intercountry Adoptions

    According to a November 17, 2020 update from the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues:

    In recent discussions with the China Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption (CCCWA), Chinese officials indicated that CCCWA continues their current policy to not process intercountry adoptions of children from social welfare institutions due to the COVID-19 pandemic in other countries. They stated this policy is needed to ensure the health and safety of those children.

    The Office of Children’s Issues is working closely with the U.S. Embassy in Beijing to seek further clarification from the Chinese government. We realize this information and policy continues to have an impact on hundreds of families and potential adoptees in China.  We will remain actively engaged with the Chinese government on this issue and provide updates as they become available.

  • New Delhi, India: 7 day domestic travel quarantine no longer required

    According to the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India, the 7 day quarantine requirement for domestic travel no longer exists.  However, travelers are advised to keep monitoring the Government of India information on the website in case the policies change.

    Quarantine requirements vary by state in India, travelers will need to research and confirm the quarantine(s) required for any state(s) they plan to visit within the country.  Review the U.S. Department of State travel advisories before planning any international travel, and keep in mind that all travel information is subject to change.

  • Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) Card

    According to the Embassy of India website, Cox & Kings Global Services (CKGS) is no longer the service provider for OCI services for the Embassy of India, Washington DC or its Consulates in Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, New York and San Francisco. The new service provider will start operations on November 2nd, 2020, the details of which will be provided in due course.  Until that time, OCI services will remain suspended, including OCI card applications and approvals.

    In case of any specific queries, please email to fsoci.washington@mea.gov.in

    You can visit the Embassy of India website to view the official statement and check for updates.  https://www.indianembassyusa.gov.in/pages/MjY

     

  • Congress Enacts Intercountry Adoption Information Act

    From the National Council For Adoption, October 1, 2020

    Yesterday, Congress enacted the Intercountry Adoption Information Act which is now awaiting the President’s signature to be made law.  The following is a description of this legislation by Congressional staff who worked on this legislation:

    The Intercountry Adoption Information Act would amend the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 to require the U.S. State Department to provide additional information on the following:

    • *Countries that have enacted policies to prevent or prohibit adoptions to the United States;
    • *Actions taken by the State Department which have prevented adoptions to the United States;
    • *The ways in which the State Department has worked to encourage resuming adoptions in both cases.

    This information is critical for American families to adopt from countries that have established barriers to adoption, such as Russia or Ethiopia, or other areas where the State Department has suspended intercountry adoption, such as abandoned children in Nepal. 

    You can read more about the Intercountry Adoption Information Act here.

  • Update: Indian Visas for Adoption Cases

    September 16, 2020

    From the U.S. Department of State:

    This is an update to our August 21, 2020 notice on the status of adoptions from India. Following discussions between Embassy New Delhi and the Indian government, Embassy New Delhi advises us that the Ministry of External Affairs has agreed to issue visas to adopting parents to allow them to travel to India and finalize their adoptions. We have shared this update with the relevant Adoption Service Providers, so that they can work with their families who are ready to travel.

    While the above information states that adoptive parents can travel to India to finalize their adoption, agencies received further clarification from the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, Immigration Visa Unit:

    I am reaching out to let you know that we received confirmation from MEA today that they are ready to begin issuing visas to U.S. adoptive families! The Indian Government has agreed to approve the visa applications only for families whose adoptions have been finalized, and they tell us that they have passed this information on to their consulates.  Please reach out to your families and let them know they can submit their applications.  Let me know if any families experience any difficulties or are denied visas, and we will raise it with the Indians.

     If you have a family who needs to travel to attend a court hearing, unfortunately they will have to keep waiting to apply for their visas.

  • Cancellation of Previously Issued Indian Visas/Travel Advisory

    9/14/2020

    The Embassy in New Delhi has advised the U.S. Department of State that visas issued by the Indian Embassy or any Indian Consulate to foreign nationals, including U.S. prospective adoptive parents, prior to India’s implementation of COVID-19 restrictions on March 13, 2020, are no longer valid. All prospective adoptive parents affected by this cancellation of Indian visas must apply for a new visa once India lifts its travel restrictions. At this time, these COVID-19 travel restrictions remain in place. We do not have further information on any pending change.

    You can read the full August 21, 2020 notice from the Department of State here: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/News/Intercountry-Adoption-News/india-important-new-guidance-from-ci-for-asps-with-intercountry.html

    Adoptive parents who hold current Indian passports or Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cards are able to travel to India.  However, they should  be aware of the current Travel Advisory issued by the Department of State on August 6, 2020:  https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories/india-travel-advisory.html

     

  • USCIS Averts Furlough of Nearly 70% of Workforce

    Drastic cuts will impact agency operations for foreseeable future

    U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services today announced that the agency will avert an administrative furlough of more than 13,000 employees, scheduled to begin Aug. 30 as a result of unprecedented spending cuts and a steady increase in daily incoming revenue and receipts.

    USCIS expects to be able to maintain operations through the end of fiscal year 2020. Aggressive spending reduction measures will impact all agency operations, including naturalizations, and will drastically impact agency contracts.

    USCIS Deputy Director for Policy Joseph Edlow says, “However, averting this furlough comes at a severe operational cost that will increase backlogs and wait times across the board, with no guarantee we can avoid future furloughs. A return to normal operating procedures requires congressional intervention to sustain the agency through fiscal year 2021.”Anticipated operational impacts include increased wait times for pending case inquiries, longer case processing times, and increased adjudication time for aliens adjusting status or naturalizing. Naturalization ceremonies will continue. Congress must still act on a long-term solution that will provide USCIS with the necessary financial assistance to sustain the agency throughout 2021 and beyond.

    You can read the full statement issued by USCIS at: https://www.uscis.gov/news/news-releases/uscis-averts-furlough-of-nearly-70-of-workforce

  • USCIS Adjusts Fees to Help Meet Operational Needs

    The Department of Homeland Security has announced that they are making adjustments to fees for certain USCIS services, to ensure that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is able to continue covering costs.  Unlike most government agencies, USCIS is fee funded, and the collected fees account for nearly 97% of USCIS’ budget.

    As required by federal law, USCIS conducted a comprehensive fee review and determined that current fees do not recover the cost of providing adjudication and naturalization services. DHS is adjusting USCIS fees by an average increase of 20% to help recover its operational costs. Current fees would leave the agency underfunded by about $1 billion per year.

    “USCIS is required to examine incoming and outgoing expenditures and make adjustments based on that analysis,” said Joseph Edlow, USCIS deputy director for policy. “These overdue adjustments in fees are necessary to efficiently and fairly administer our nation’s lawful immigration system, secure the homeland and protect Americans.”

    DHS and USCIS are encouraging online filing by providing a $10 reduction in the fee for applicants who submit forms online that are electronically available from USCIS. Online filing is the most secure, efficient, cost-effective and convenient way to submit a request with USCIS.

    Effective October 2nd, 2020, the new filing fees will be:

    For Hague Convention Countries
    Request Form Current Fee
    Final Fee Change 
    I-800/I-800A $775 $805
    I-800A Supplement 3 $385 $400
    Biometrics fingerprints $85 $30

    For non-Hague Countries

    Request Form Current Fee
    Final Fee Change
    I-600/I-600A $775 $805
    I-600A Supplement 3 N/A $400
    Biometrics fingerprints $85 $30

    Any application, petition, or request postmarked on or after October 2nd, 2020 must include payment of the new, correct fees, or USCIS will not be able to process the documents.

    For more information on USCIS and its programs, please visit uscis.gov.

  • Bulgaria: Important Notice Regarding Article 5 Issuance

    The Immigrant Visa Unit in Sophia, Bulgaria has determined that, while the Bulgarian entry restrictions for American citizens remain in place, the Embassy can issue Article 5 letters in cases where the initial meeting between the adoptive families and the adopted children is conducted online. Adoptive families must still travel to Bulgaria to complete the adoption process, and attend the final visa interview at the Embassy in person. Once the entry restrictions in Bulgaria for American citizens is lifted, or if the Ministry of Justice halts their support for initial online meetings in place of in-person meetings, the Immigrant Visa Unit will cease this exception to the normal process.

    For more information, please read this notification issued by the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues:

    July 24, 2020

    In response to multiple inquiries regarding how best to advance intercountry adoption cases in Bulgaria at this time, the Office of Children’s Issues and the U.S. Embassy in Sofia have engaged with Bulgaria’s adoption authorities to seek clarification.

    The Bulgarian Ministry of Justice has agreed to temporarily allow online socialization visits and communications between prospective adoptive parents and children. Each case must be assessed by the foreign supervised providers and social service agencies. Decisions about online meetings will be made by the Ministry of Justice on a case-by-case basis. In some cases, physical contact may present a health hazard and the only feasible option would be online socialization. In other cases, for example when the child is in foster care, physical contact may be possible. The circumstances of each case will be taken into account as they are assessed and decisions regarding online communications are made. The Ministry does not, however, support prospective adoptive parents using escorts to bring children to the U.S. at the end of the process. Parents are required to travel to pick up their children at the final stage.

    The Director for International Adoptions at the Ministry of Justice informed the Embassy in Sofia that prospective adoptive parents may be admitted to Bulgaria as an exception to entry restrictions even before the court gives them custody of their children on the basis of the humanitarian exception in the order issued by the Ministry of Health. This means that parents may travel to Bulgaria for the 5-day contact depending on the individual circumstances of the case. U.S. ASPs may continue to work through their Bulgarian supervised providers in communicating with the Ministry of Justice regarding exceptions to the entry restrictions.

    The Embassy in Sofia will issue Article 5 letters based on an online socialization visit as a temporary emergency measure due to the COVID-19 situation, but prospective adoptive parents will have to travel to Bulgaria to complete the IV application and interview process in-person. Parents may ask the Ministry of Justice for special consideration if there are exceptional circumstances that will prevent travel to Bulgaria to pick up children at the end of the process, and the Embassy will work in cooperation with the Ministry’s decision.

    If you have any questions regarding this matter you may contact the Embassy in Sofia at IV_Sofia@state.gov.

    Sincerely,

    The Office of Children’s Issues