• Understanding the Adoption Tax Credit

    Understanding the Adoption Tax Credit
    By Ryan Hanlon and Becky Wilmoth

    The Adoption Tax Credit can significantly offset the costs and fees of an adoption process, but prospective adoptive parents need to ensure they understand the basics before determining how much it can help them. In this updated Guide to Understanding the Adoption Tax Credit, we explain what the ATC is, how it is different from a tax deduction, how it works, and what the eligibility and qualifying expenses are. We also discuss proposed legislation to improve the ATC’s ability to help more families and strengthen opportunities for more children to thrive in permanent, loving families.

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  • Bulgaria: CDC COVID Testing Requirement

    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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • International Flights to India to Resume

    India has established individual bilateral air bubbles with France, Germany and the US that will allow airlines of each country in the pact to operate international flights, said the Civil Aviation Ministry on Thursday, July 16.

    An air bubble is a bilateral arrangement with a set of regulations and restrictions in which the carriers of the two countries can operate international flights.

    American carrier United Airlines will be flying 18 flights between India and the US from July 17 to 31, he added.

    “They (United) are flying a daily flight between Delhi and Newark and a thrice-a-week flight between Delhi and San Francisco,” Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri noted.

    From India, Air India will be operating flights to France, Germany and the US under these bubbles.

    Scheduled international passenger flights have been suspended in India since March 23 due to the coronavirus pandemic.  After nearly two months of suspension to combat the coronavirus outbreak, the government resumed scheduled domestic passenger flights on May 25.

    Various states like Maharashtra have put restrictions on the number of flights that their airports can handle per day, he said, adding that he expects this would change in coming 2-3 weeks.

    He said once the domestic capacity reaches 50-55 percent of its pre-COVID capacity, the government will get the confidence about opening international air travel further.

    Before traveling to India, please review the current information from the U.S. Department of State:

  • Renewal of IAN’s Hague Accreditation

    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!

  • Referral Review: University of Minnesota Adoption Medicine Clinic

    International Adoption Net has recently completed a training from the University of Minnesota Adoption Medicine Clinic. During this training they shared with our staff more in-depth ways of reading a medical referral, what types of special needs they have seen in the countries IAN works with, and what the quality of life is for specific special needs. Judith K. Eckerle, M.D. is very knowledgeable in the international medical field and was so helpful in answering all our staff’s questions with detailed information.

    IAN is very grateful to have connected with this program to receive ongoing training about specific special needs. We are now referring families to University of Minnesota Adoption Medicine Clinic when reviewing a referral and needing medical professionals’ opinions. The Adoption Medicine Clinic has helped many families since 1986 review referrals, discuss the resources needed for the specific special need and what the severity of the need may be. The Clinic will look at the medical report, any background information on the child, and review pictures and videos. They then will discuss with the family any concerns they may see and discus how to best care for the child.

    Families can connect with this clinic by going to their website at https://adoption.umn.edu/. They have many resources for families to learn from such as how to measure head growth, fetal alcohol syndrome, child development, mental health, etc.

    They do have a fee for their different services. On their website they have a breakdown of what each service would cost. Their turn around time for looking at a referral is 1-3 days and can go quicker if it is time sensitive.

    We recommend families look at the University of Minnesota Adoption Medicine Clinic when considering or in the process of foster care, domestic or international adoption.