January 21, 2021
The US Embassy in Bulgaria has confirmed the new testing requirements for travelers to the USA, effective as of January 26.
Beginning January 26, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), will require all air travelers, two years of age or older, to present a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of their travel in order to be admitted into the United States. This includes U.S. citizens and adoptees.
Airlines will confirm the negative test result for all passengers before boarding. Airlines will deny boarding of passengers if they do not provide documentation of a negative test or recovery. This requirement is separate from the visa application process.
Travelers should be tested no more than 72 hours before their flight to the US departs. They must be tested with a viral test (NAAT or antigen test) to determine if they are currently infected with COVID-19. They must have documentation of their results (paper or electronic) to show the airline, an attestation to the veracity of the test, or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the preceding 90 days.
U.S. Embassies and Consulates are unable to provide COVID-19 testing to U.S. citizens and adoptees so adoptive families and adoptee children will need to be tested at a Bulgarian hospital or clinic prior to their planned flight to the United States.
IAN’s Foreign Supervised Provider in Bulgaria has already researched the locations in Sofia that can perform Covid testings for the adoptive parents and their children. They will assist all US families traveling back to the USA, so that they can be tested prior to their planned flight to the United States.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
The Office of Children’s Issues
IAN has proudly been a Hague Accredited adoption agency since April 1, 2008, and we are very pleased to announce that the renewal of our Hague Accreditation has been approved for another 4 years!
A little more about Hague Accreditation and what it means for adoptive parents:
The Hague Convention provides protections for children, birthparents and prospective adoptive parents under internationally agreed upon rules and procedures. Under its framework, member countries work together to help ensure that children are provided with permanent, loving homes and that adoptions take place in the best interest of the child.
In order to become Hague Accredited, and maintain Hague Accreditation, agencies are evaluated by the accrediting entity, Intercountry Adoption Accreditation and Maintenance Entity (IAAME). IAAME was created for the sole purpose of the accreditation, approval, monitoring and oversight of adoption service providers providing intercountry adoption services, and assesses an agency’s policies, procedures, communications, recruitment of prospective adoptive parents, child placements, home study services, parent education and support, and more, in order to determine that substantial compliance with the Hague Accreditation standards has been demonstrated.
While challenging at times, IAN’s Hague accreditation renewal process was a learning experience, and we’ve come through it even stronger, as an agency, which we believe will benefit our adoptive families and their children. It’s not only our job to provide you with information and guide you through the legal steps of the adoption process, that’s the “easy” part. Most importantly, we are here to prepare and support you and your adopted child on this emotional, life changing journey.
For more information on Hague – https://travel.state.gov/
content/travel/en/ Intercountry-Adoption/ Adoption-Process/ understanding-the-hague- convention.html
Please contact us for more information on our programs and how to get started on your adoption with IAN!
June 4 Reopening
Beginning June 4, 2020, certain USCIS field offices and asylum offices will resume non-emergency face-to-face services to the public. Application support centers will resume services later. USCIS has enacted precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in reopened facilities:
- Visitors may not enter a USCIS facility if they:
- Have any symptoms of COVID-19, including cough, fever or difficulty breathing;
- Have been in close contact with anyone known or suspected to have COVID-19 in the last 14 days; or
- Have been individually directed to self-quarantine or self-isolate by a health care provider or public health official within the last 14 days.
- Visitors may not enter the facility more than 15 minutes prior to their appointment (30 minutes for naturalization ceremonies).
- Hand sanitizer will be provided for visitors at entry points.
- Members of the public must wear facial coverings that cover both the mouth and nose when entering facilities. If they do not have one, USCIS may provide one or the visitor will be asked to reschedule their appointment.
- There will be markings and physical barriers in the facility; visitors should pay close attention to these signs to ensure they follow social distancing guidelines.
- Individuals may also have to answer health screening questions before entering a facility.
- Individuals are encouraged to bring their own black or blue ink pens.
Appointment notices will include further instructions for visiting USCIS facilities. Please note that USCIS locations are not accepting walk-in visits at this time. You must have a scheduled appointment with USCIS before arriving at a USCIS office. For more information, see our USCIS Visitor Policy and USCIS Office Closings pages.
- Visitors may not enter a USCIS facility if they:
USCIS June 4 Extension of Closure
This notice is linked in the International Adoption section of NCFA’s COVID-19 Resources Hub for your quick reference.
On March 18, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services temporarily suspended in-person services at its field offices, asylum offices, and application support centers (ASCs) to help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). USCIS is readying offices to re-open in compliance with local and state orders, on or after June 4. Employees in these offices are continuing to perform mission-essential services that do not require face-to-face contact with the public while the offices are temporarily closed. During this time, individuals may still submit applications and petitions to USCIS. Online filing remains the most convenient and interactive way to submit forms, check the status of your case, and receive notices.
Field Office and ASC Appointments, Naturalization Ceremonies, InfoPass
USCIS field offices will send notices to applicants and petitioners with scheduled appointments and naturalization ceremonies impacted by the extended temporary closure. When USCIS again resumes normal operations, USCIS will automatically reschedule ASC appointments due to the temporary office closure. Individuals will receive a new appointment letter in the mail. Those who had InfoPass or other appointments must reschedule through the USCIS Contact Center once field offices are open to the public again.
Asylum Office Interviews
USCIS asylum offices will send interview cancellation notices and automatically reschedule asylum interviews. When the interview is rescheduled, asylum applicants will receive a new interview notice with the new time, date and location of the interview.
Please check to see if the respective office has been reopened before calling the USCIS Contact Center.
In-Person Public Engagements
Additionally, USCIS is postponing all in-person public engagement and outreach events for the duration of the temporary office closure. Please contact email@example.com if you have an immediate engagement question during this time.
For More Information
USCIS will provide further updates as the situation develops and will continue to follow CDC guidance in response to this situation. Please visit uscis.gov/coronavirus for updates.
Education and precautions are the strongest tools against infection. Get the latest facts by visiting the CDC’s COVID-19 website. Continue to practice good health habits, refrain from handshakes or hugs as greetings, and clean hands and surfaces appropriately.
Public Engagement Division
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services