• Resumption of Hosting Programs in Ukraine

    June 13, 2022

    From the U.S. Department of State:

    On June 11, 2022, the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine announced they would permit children to participate in hosting programs abroad for health and recreation. The National Social Service of Ukraine will administer the programs and will require a host organization and a country’s local or central executive body to extend a formal invitation. You can find the announcement in Ukrainian on the Ministry’s official website, https://www.msp.gov.ua/news/21932.html.

    However, it is important to note that the announcement specifies that, while the current martial law is in effect, this program does not apply to orphans and children deprived of parental care. These children may be provided with health and recreation services as part of organized groups only in the territory of the country where they are currently located.

    We have reached out to the Ministry of Social Policy and the National Social Service Office of Ukraine to seek further clarification. We will provide updates as we are able.

  • Judicial Adoption Hearings in Ukraine

    May 27, 2022

    The Office of Children’s Issues continues to engage the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine and the National Social Service of Ukraine to confirm the status of intercountry adoption at this time.

    The National Social Service recently confirmed that courts in Ukraine are allowing some adoption cases with official referrals to move forward. They emphasized that this depends on several factors, such as the availability of the court, the local security situation, and the ability for relevant parties to attend court proceedings. Virtual hearings may occur at a judge’s discretion, and all necessary documents are still required for pending cases to be processed. Our understanding is that judges are contacting PAPs directly to provide instructions and information.

    Please note that the Department’s Travel Advisory for Ukraine remains Level 4:  Do Not Travel. The Department urges U.S. citizens not to travel to Ukraine and advises U.S. citizens in Ukraine to depart immediately if it is safe to do so.  There are currently no in-person consular services available in Ukraine and the U.S. government will not be able to evacuate U.S. citizens from Ukraine.

    We encourage prospective adoptive parents at or nearing the judicial phase of the adoption process in Ukraine to work closely with their adoption service provider to determine the next steps in their case.

  • Updated – Information for U.S. Citizens in the Process of Adopting Children from Ukraine

    May 5, 2022

    This updates and supersedes notices previously issued on March 22, 2022, March 10, 2022, and on February 28, 2022.

    The Department of State continues to receive many inquiries from U.S. citizens concerned about the plight of Ukrainian children. We share this concern for these children, and we understand that some U.S. citizens want to respond by offering to open their homes to provide temporary safe haven, to host, or to adopt these children in need.

    We recognize the security situation in Ukraine is of great concern to prospective adoptive parents (PAP) at any stage of the process, including both former host families and those adopting children they have not yet met.  The Department’s Travel Advisory for Ukraine remains Level 4: Do Not Travel. The Department urges U.S. citizens not to travel to Ukraine and advises U.S. citizens in Ukraine to depart immediately if it is safe to do so. There are currently no in-person U.S. consular services available in Ukraine and the U.S. government will not be able to evacuate U.S. citizens from Ukraine.

    Please review the following key notices about intercountry adoption and hosting programs involving Ukrainian children:

    –          Statement by the Department of State’s Special Advisor for Children’s Issues

    –          Ukraine Ministry of Social Policy Statement on Child Safeguards and Intercountry Adoption – Please note that the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine (MSP) stated on March 13 that adoption in Ukraine is “impossible” at this time.

    –          Status of Intercountry Adoption and Hosting Programs During the Ukraine Crisis

    –          Visas for Ukrainian Children in the Process of Intercountry Adoption and/or Who Previously Traveled for Hosting Programs in the United States

    Q: Can Ukrainian children come to the United States temporarily for their safety?

    The Ukrainian government has confirmed they are not approving children to participate in host programs in the United States at this time and prefers to keep them in closer geographical proximity in European countries. We are in close touch with the Ukrainian government, which confirms that most children who were residing in institutions have already been evacuated and are receiving appropriate care, including specialized medical treatment, as necessary. The Ukrainian authorities are not making exceptions to this policy for children who previously participated in hosting programs or are already in the process of adoption. We will continue to convey to the Ukrainian government that U.S. families are interested in completing adoptions in process and in providing safe haven to Ukrainian children.

    See the Department’s March 9, 2022 Ukraine Adoption Update and the Ukrainian government report from April 16 on Protection of Children’s Rights.

    The following resources provide information on other ways to help:

    ·         Department of State – United with Ukraine: How You Can Help

    ·         U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) – see the How You Can Help section on the Ukraine Crisis page

    Q. Can “Uniting for Ukraine” program be used to bring Ukrainian orphans to the United States?

    Information about the Uniting for Ukraine program is available on the Department of Homeland Security website (italicized below):

    Children traveling without their parent or legal guardian are not eligible for parole under Uniting for Ukraine.  Upon arrival at a U.S. port of entry, a child who is not traveling with their parent or legal guardian may be placed in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), as required by law under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (TVPRA), to protect the child from human trafficking and other forms of exploitation. For more information, please visit the HHS Unaccompanied Children webpage.

    This process may not be used by prospective adoptive parents to circumvent the adoption processes. Any further questions about Uniting for Ukraine should be directed to the Department of Homeland Security.

    Q. Can I visit children who have been evacuated to European countries?

    We are aware some PAPs and host-families have travelled or may be considering travel to Poland and other neighboring countries in an effort to visit with children who have been evacuated.  Please keep in mind the children’s Ukrainian guardians have authority to approve visitation. We encourage all travelers to register in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program order to receive security and other critical updates from the relevant U.S. Embassy. Country-specific information is available on the Department’s website.

    Q: What action is the Government of Ukraine taking to protect children in institutional care?

    The Ministry of Social Policy and the National Social Service Office of Ukraine have jurisdiction over decisions about the protection of the children in their care and take this responsibility very seriously. Since the start of the invasion, the Ministry reported that over 10,000 children from vulnerable categories were evacuated to neighboring countries and these efforts are continuing. The Minister of Social Policy Lazebna repeatedly stated that all the children are safe and provided with housing, food, medical and educational services. The Ukrainian government is in the process of concluding a Memorandum of Understanding with 23 countries in close geographical proximity to Ukraine to guarantee the protection of evacuated children and their return to Ukraine. The Government of Ukraine has also formed a Coordination Headquarters/Task Force to protect children’s rights, and their monthly reports will be available on the Ministry of Social Policy’s website, https://www.msp.gov.ua/. Prospective adoptive parents and other concerned individuals may wish to monitor statements released by the Ukrainian government for current information about child protection activities.

    Individuals with specific information regarding concerns about the safety of evacuated children may email details to our office at Adoption@state.gov. We will share credible information with the Ukrainian government as appropriate.

    Q: How can I begin the process to adopt a child in Ukraine?

    Information about intercountry adoption, including country specific information, is available on our website, adoption.state.gov. You may also wish to consult with an accredited adoption service provider.

    Please review carefully the Special Advisor for Children’s Issues statement regarding children of Ukraine. It can be extremely difficult in times of war and crisis to determine whether children who appear to be orphans are truly eligible for adoption and immigration under U.S. laws. Children may be temporarily separated from their parents or other family members during a conflict or natural disaster and their parents may be looking for them. It is not uncommon in dangerous situations for parents to send their children out of the area for safety reasons, or for families to become separated during an evacuation. Even when it can be demonstrated that a child’s parents have died, children are often cared for by other relatives. In addition, it can be exceptionally difficult to fulfill the legal requirements for intercountry adoption of both the United States and the child’s country of origin under such circumstances. It can also be challenging to gather documents necessary to establish that the child meets the requirements of U.S. immigration law. Prospective adoptive parents may wish to consult with an experienced immigration attorney when considering adopting or caring for a child under these circumstances. For context, you may wish to review the general procedural information on our website about applying to adopt a child from another country to the United States. See in particular those sections describing the U.S. immigrant visa process for an eligible adopted child.

    On March 13 the Ministry of Social Policy published a statement that intercountry adoptions in Ukraine are not possible at this time.

    Q: Can the State Department expedite the processing of Ukraine adoption cases already in progress?

    We are working with the Government of Ukraine on behalf of families who have final adoption orders to obtain required documents for the child’s immigrant visa processing. These are cases in which a Ukrainian court has already granted legal custody to the adoptive parents. We have asked the Ukrainian government whether it may be possible for cases with official referrals to proceed. We have received reports that some Ukrainian courts are holding hearings for some cases with official referrals, but the Ukrainian government has not officially confirmed it approves of these cases moving forward. We will continue to share information and guidance regarding specific adoption cases in process with the relevant ASPs as we receive it. We will continue to raise U.S. families’ commitment to and interest in completing adoption cases that are in process. However, in general, intercountry adoption cases in process are not expected to move forward in the near term.

    On March 13, 2022, the Ukrainian Ministry of Social Policy issued a statement that adoption is not possible in Ukraine at this time. Families at any stage of the process, including those who have started but not completed required court hearings, should consult with their accredited adoption service provider (ASP) to discuss the impact of the Ministry of Social Policy’s statement on their adoption plans. any stage of the process, including those who have started but not completed required court hearings, should consult with their accredited adoption service provider (ASP) to discuss the impact of the Ministry of Social Policy’s statement on their adoption plans.

    The following resources provide helpful background on concerns relating to intercountry adoption in times of crisis:

    ·         UNICEF and the UN High Commission on Refugees – Unaccompanied and Separated Children Fleeing Escalating Conflict in Ukraine Must be Protected

    ·         Hague Conference on Private International Law – Information Note on Children Deprived of their Family Environment Due to the Armed Conflict in Ukraine

    ·         The National Council for Adoption – Regarding Refugee Children Fleeing the War in Ukraine

    ·         International Social Services – Ukraine Crisis Fact Sheet

    ·         Save the Children – Ukraine Crisis: Call for Immediate Halt on Intercountry Adoptions to Keep Children Safe

    Q: Who is the primary point of contact for PAPs in the process of adopting in Ukraine?

    ASPs are the most appropriate point of contact for PAPs who are in the adoption process. ASPs can provide guidance about how the situation in Ukraine may impact each family’s adoption plans. PAPs may also contact the Office of Children’s Issues directly at Adoption@state.gov.

    Q: What if I have already accepted an official referral from the National Social Service Office of Ukraine before the invasion started, but there have not yet been any court hearings?

    We continue to engage the Ministry of Social Policy on behalf of families who have approved referrals from the National Social Service Office of Ukraine. We will share information and updates received from the Ukrainian government as we are able.

    Q: What if I am partway through the adoption process and the child’s orphanage was evacuated to Poland or another neighboring country? Will I be able to resume the intercountry adoption process from there?

    Based on the Ministry of Social Policy’s March 13 statement that adoptions are not possible at this time, we do not expect adoption cases to move forward in the near term. The Ukrainian government retains the authority for decisions about the best interests of Ukrainian children in institutional care, even when the children have been evacuated to other countries.

    Q: Is the State Department able to facilitate legal entry to the United States for a child I am in the process of adopting?

    For children in the intercountry adoption process, the Department does not have the authority to facilitate travel to the United States outside of the intercountry adoption process. Questions about humanitarian parole for Ukrainian children in institutional care should be directed to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which has jurisdiction over this issue. Information about the humanitarian parole application process and refugee and asylum status is available on the USCIS website. Questions about the Uniting for Ukraine program may be directed to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

    Q: What if I am in the process of adopting a child that has previously traveled to the United States through a hosting program? Can this child receive a new non-immigrant (tourist) visa, or if the visa expiration date on the previously issued visa has not yet passed will the child be able to enter the U.S.?

    Children who travel to the United States for hosting programs do so with the Ukrainian government’s authorization and on a U.S. non-immigrant visa. The visa is typically valid only for one entry to the United States and only during the narrow date range of the program. To qualify for another nonimmigrant visa, applicants must establish that they are not an intending immigrant. Children in the process of intercountry adoption without a final adoption or guardianship order are generally not eligible for issuance of nonimmigrant visas. Applications for nonimmigrant visas are evaluated under Section 214(b) of the INA which states that every applicant for a nonimmigrant visa “…shall be presumed to be an immigrant until (s)he establishes to the satisfaction of the consular officer… that (s)he is entitled to nonimmigrant status…”  This presumption of immigrant intent can be difficult to overcome for children who are in the process of an intercountry adoption. Please see Visas for Ukrainian Children for additional information.

    Q. What is the State Department doing to convince Ukrainian authorities to allow children hosted in the past by the U.S. families to be brought to the United States for safety?

    We are in regular communication with the Ukrainian government and have conveyed that U.S. families are concerned and interested in bringing children to the U.S. now on temporary basis. In all of our engagements, Ukrainian officials have clearly stated that they prefer the children to remain in close geographic proximity to Ukraine and will not authorize any temporary travel to the United States.

    For many years, the United States has maintained a close and positive partnership with Ukraine to assist Ukrainian orphans in finding permanent and loving homes with U.S. families. We respect the Ukrainian government’s legal authority over Ukrainian children in this crisis and their right to determine what is best for their children of any age or familial status.

  • Information about DHS Program, Uniting for Ukraine

    April 27, 2022

    Information about the Uniting for Ukraine program is now available on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) website.

    Since this falls under DHS authority, questions about any aspect of this program should be directed to DHS. We would like to flag the last two items in the FAQ for ASP awareness since they may pertain to aspects of some inquiries from prospective adoptive parents.

  • Updated – Information for U.S. Citizens in the Process of Adopting Children from Ukraine

    From the U.S. Department of State Office of Children’s Issues:

    March 25, 2022

    This updates and supersedes notices previously issued on March 10, 2022 and on February 28, 2022.

    The Department recognizes the security situation in Ukraine is of great concern to prospective adoptive parents (PAP) at any stage of the process, including host families who intend to but have not yet started the adoption process.

    The Department has issued a Level 4 Do Not Travel Alert urging U.S. citizens not to travel to Ukraine and advising U.S. citizens in Ukraine to depart immediately if it is safe to do so.  There are currently no in-person U.S. consular services available in Ukraine and the U.S. government will not be able to evacuate U.S. citizens from Ukraine.

    We are aware some PAPs and host families are considering travel to Poland and other neighboring countries in an effort to visit with children who have been evacuated. We encourage anyone who travels to register in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program in order to receive security and other critical updates from the relevant U.S. Embassy. Country-specific information is available on the Department’s website.

    Please review the following key notices about intercountry adoption and hosting programs involving Ukrainian children:

    –          Statement by the Department of State’s Special Advisor for Children’s Issues

    –          Ukraine’s Ministry of Policy Statement on Intercountry Adoption – Please note that the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine (MSP) has stated adoption in Ukraine is “impossible” at this time.

    –          Visas for Ukrainian Children in the Process of Intercountry Adoption and/or Who Previously Traveled for Hosting Programs in the United States

    Q:  Can Ukrainian children come to the United States temporarily for their safety?

    The Office of Children’s Issues has received many inquiries from individuals who are concerned about the welfare of Ukrainian children.  Many families have previously hosted the child they wish to adopt and hope to find a mechanism to bring the child to the United States until the crisis in Ukraine resolves; others have not been involved in hosting or adoption but want to find a way to help. We are also hearing from hosting organizations and other humanitarian groups who seek information about how to bring Ukrainian children to the United States outside of the intercountry adoption process. The Ukrainian government has confirmed they are not approving children to participate in host programs in the United States at this time.  They are taking measures to ensure their safety in neighboring countries. We are in close touch with the Ukrainian government, which confirms that most children have already been evacuated and are receiving all appropriate care, including specialized medical treatment, as necessary. The Ukrainian authorities are not making exceptions to this policy for children who previously participated in hosting programs or are already in the process of adoption.

    See the Department’s March 9, 2022 Ukraine Adoption Update and the Ukrainian Ministry of Social Policy’s March 19 Statement on the Evacuation of Children in Institutional Care for additional information.

    The following resources provide information on other ways to help:

    ·         Department of State – United with Ukraine: How You Can Help

    ·         U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) – see the How You Can Help  section on the Ukraine Crisis page

    Q:  What action is the Government of Ukraine taking to protect children in institutional care?

    The Ministry of Social Policy and the National Social Service Office of Ukraine have jurisdiction over decisions about the care and protection of the children in their care. The Minister of Social Policy Lazebna’s statement on the evacuation of almost 5,000 children in institutional care confirmed that “all the evacuated children are safe, [and] they are provided with housing, food, medical and educational services.” On March 17, the Government of Ukraine set up a Coordination Headquarters/Task Force to protect children’s rights and they developed a draft Memorandum between Ukraine and other countries to protect the rights of displaced children and guarantee their return to Ukraine, based on the agreements already reached by the Minister of Social Policy of Ukraine in meetings with relevant Ministers of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Great Britain, Hungary, Germany and Italy.  This situation is fluid.  Prospective adoptive parents and other concerned individuals may wish to monitor statements released by the Ukrainian government for current information about child protection activities.

    Q:  How can I begin the process to adopt a child in Ukraine?

    We are receiving many inquiries expressing concern for the children of Ukraine and asking how to begin the adoption process.  Ukraine’s Ministry of Policy Statement on Intercountry Adoption confirms that adoption in Ukraine is not possible at this time.

    Information about intercountry adoption, including country specific information, is available on our website, www.adoption.state.gov.  You may also wish to consult with an accredited adoption service provider.

    Please review carefully the Special Advisor for Children’s Issues statement regarding children of Ukraine.  We note it can be extremely difficult in times of war and crisis to determine whether children who appear to be orphans are truly eligible for adoption and immigration under U.S. laws. Children may be temporarily separated from their parents or other family members during a conflict or natural disaster and their parents may be looking for them. It is not uncommon in dangerous situations for parents to send their children out of the area for safety reasons, or for families to become separated during an evacuation. Even when it can be demonstrated that a child’s parents have died, children are often cared for by other relatives. In addition, it can also be exceptionally difficult to fulfill the legal requirements for intercountry adoption of both the United States and the child’s country of origin under such circumstances. It can also be challenging to gather documents necessary to establish that the child meets the requirements of U.S. immigration law.  Prospective adoptive parents may wish to consult with an experienced immigration attorney when considering adopting or caring for a child under these circumstances.  For context, you may wish to review the general procedural information on our website about applying to adopt a child from another country to the United States. See in particular those sections describing the U.S. immigrant visa process for an eligible adopted child.

    Q:  Can the State Department expedite the processing of Ukraine adoption cases already in process?

    We are working with the Government of Ukraine on behalf of families who have final adoption orders to obtain required documents for the child’s immigrant visa processing. These are cases in which a Ukrainian court has already granted legal custody to the adoptive parents. We will continue to raise U.S. families’ commitment to and interest in completing the process in cases where both U.S. and Ukrainian approvals have been granted but there has not yet been a final, legal change of custody determination. However, we cannot predict whether or when any cases without a final adoption order will be able to proceed. Intercountry adoption cases in process are not expected to move forward in the near term.

    On March 13, 2022, the Ukrainian Ministry of Social Policy issued a statement confirming that adoption is not possible in Ukraine at this time. See the Department’s March 21, 2022 Notice for more information. Families at any stage of the process, including those who have started but not completed required court hearings, should consult with their accredited adoption service provider (ASP) to discuss the impact of the Ministry of Social Policy’s statement on their adoption plans.

    The following resources provide helpful background on why adoption of Ukrainian children may be difficult or inappropriate at this time:

    ·         UNICEF and the UN High Commission on Refugees – Unaccompanied and Separated Children Fleeing Escalating Conflict in Ukraine Must be Protected

    ·         Hague Conference on Private International Law – Information Note on Children Deprived of their Family Environment Due to the Armed Conflict in Ukraine

    ·         The National Council for Adoption – Regarding Refugee Children Fleeing the War in Ukraine

    ·         International Social Services – Ukraine Crisis Fact Sheet

    ·         Save the Children – Ukraine Crisis: Call for Immediate Halt on Intercountry Adoptions to Keep Children Safe

     

    Q:  Who is the primary point of contact for PAPs in the process of adopting in Ukraine?

    ASPs are the most appropriate point of contact for PAPs who are in the adoption process.  ASPs can provide guidance about how the situation in Ukraine may impact each family’s adoption plans. PAPs may also contact the Office of Children’s Issues directly at Adoption@state.gov.

    Q:  What if I have started the adoption process and I have had one or more court hearings, but additional hearings are required?

    The Department has requested adoption hearings be expedited and conducted virtually whenever possible. However, the judge has sole discretion over this decision.  At this time, most government offices and courts are not open or able to conduct business, and we are unable to track the operating status of each.  Based on the Ministry of Social Policy’s March 13 statement that adoptions are not possible at this time, we do not expect these cases to move forward in the near term. The Department will continue to convey to the Ukrainian government that U.S. families are interested in completing the adoption process if possible under Ukrainian law.  PAPs at this stage of the process should remain in close contact with their ASP to discuss how this situation impacts their adoption plans.

    Q:  What if I have accepted an official referral from the Ministry of Social Policy (MSP) but there have not yet been any court hearings, or I have declined a referral and not yet been offered another one?

    Based on the Ministry of Social Policy’s March 13 statement that adoptions are not possible at this time, we do not expect cases at this stage of the process to move forward in the near term.

    Q:  Can the State Department facilitate the removal of children from Ukraine and entry into another country for their safety?

    The Ukrainian authorities, which have jurisdiction over decisions about the care and protection of the children in its care, have expressed concern about moving children out of Europe at this point and are taking steps to ensure their safety in neighboring countries. The National Social Service Office of Ukraine has made clear that while children may depart Ukraine with their legal guardians, who are often the orphanage directors, if other required criteria are met, they do not approve the children for onward travel to the United States for hosting at this time.

    Information about the evacuation of children residing in institutional care is available on the Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers website. Q:  What if I am partway through the adoption process and the child’s orphanage or another entity is able to get the child to Poland or another neighboring country?  Will I be able to resume the intercountry adoption process from there?

    Based on the Ministry of Social Policy’s March 13 statement that adoptions are not possible at this time, we do not expect adoption cases to move forward in the near term. The Ukrainian government retains the authority for decisions about the best interests of Ukrainian children in institutional care, even when the children have been evacuated to other countries.

    Q:  Is the State Department able to facilitate humanitarian parole for a child I am in the process of adopting so that I may bring the child to the United States?

    Questions about humanitarian parole for Ukrainian children in institutional care should be directed to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which has jurisdiction over this issue. Information about the humanitarian parole application process and refugee and asylum status is available on the USCIS website.

    Q:  What if I am in the process of adopting a child that has previously traveled to the United States through a hosting program?  If the visa expiration date has not yet passed will the child be able to enter the U.S.?

    Children who travel to the United States for hosting programs do so with the Ukrainian government’s authorization and on a U.S. non-immigrant visa that is typically valid only for one entry to the United States and only during the narrow date range of the program. To travel to the United States again, a child would need a new non-immigrant visa. Children in the process of intercountry adoption without a final adoption or guardianship order are generally not eligible for issuance of a non-immigrant visa as they are intending immigrants. Visa eligibility and adjudication is governed by U.S. immigration laws, and State Department consular officers do not have the authority to make exceptions to U.S. law.  Please see Visas for Ukrainian Children for additional information.

    Q:  What if I am considering adoption or I know I am not in a position to adopt a child but I would like to host a child so that they can leave Ukraine temporarily while the country is at war?

    We are receiving many inquiries from U.S. citizens concerned about the plight of Ukrainian children. We share this concern for these children, and we understand that some U.S. citizens want to respond by offering to open their homes and adopt these children in need.

    It can be extremely difficult in such circumstances to determine whether children who appear to be orphans truly are eligible for adoption and immigration under U.S. laws. Children may be temporarily separated from their parents or other family members during a conflict or natural disaster and their parents may be looking for them. It is not uncommon in dangerous situations for parents to send their children out of the area, for safety reasons, or for families to become separated during an evacuation. Even when it can be demonstrated that a child’s parents have died, children are often cared for by other relatives. Many children living in orphanages in Ukraine are not orphans.

    During times of crisis, it can also be exceptionally difficult to fulfill the legal requirements for intercountry adoption of both the United States and the child’s country of origin. This is especially true when civil authority breaks down. It can be very difficult to gather documents necessary to establish that the child meets the requirements of U.S. immigration law, so persons interested in adoption may wish to consult with an experienced immigration attorney when considering adopting or caring for a child under these circumstances. For context, you may wish to review the general procedural information on our website about applying to adopt and immigrate a child from another country to the United States. See in particular those sections describing the U.S. immigrant visa process for an eligible adopted child.

  • Ukraine – Statement by Department of State’s Special Advisor for Children’s Issues

    March 23, 2022

    From the Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues:

    President Putin’s premeditated, unjustified, and unprovoked war against Ukraine has had a devastating impact on Ukraine’s most vulnerable citizens:  its children. The global child protection community, including non-profit organizations, has been working tirelessly with the Ukrainian government to evacuate children to safety. A critical part of this effort is to prevent children from being permanently separated from their parents and caregivers.

    The United States and Ukraine have a long history of intercountry adoptions.  Every year, hundreds of U.S. families open their hearts and homes to Ukrainian orphans in need of a permanent family. These adoptions occur with protections from U.S. and Ukrainian laws and regulations. Ultimately, Ukrainian authorities have jurisdiction over and responsibility for the safety of the orphans in their custody, including decisions about what is in their best interests. The Ukrainian government has informed us it has moved many of the children in its care to Poland and other European countries for safety and medical treatment.

    The majority of children living in orphanages in Ukraine are not orphans. Most have parents and families who have placed them in orphanages for economic reasons or for assistance with a child’s special needs. It can be extremely difficult during crises to determine whether children who appear to be orphans are truly eligible for adoption and immigration under U.S. laws. Children may be temporarily separated from their family, and their parents or other caregivers may be looking for them. Families may make the difficult choice to send children on their own or in the care of non-family members in order to achieve their safety. When a child’s parents have died, other relatives may be willing and able to care for them.

    For these and other reasons, the Ukrainian government informed the Department of State they do not approve Ukrainian children for temporary travel to the United States at this time. This decision was made by the National Social Services Office of Ukraine, which must approve the transfer of any orphan.  Ukraine has also confirmed there is no plan for simplified procedures, including for those already in the process of being adopted, and on March 13, 2022, announced that adoption is not possible at this time.

    The Ukrainian government and many international organizations have serious concerns about children being taken out of the region, since this would hamper efforts to reunite them with their families once the crisis is over. UNICEF and the UN High Commission on Refugees have published information regarding the protection of unaccompanied and separated children in Ukraine and throughout the region. The National Council for Adoption issued a statement Regarding Refugee Children Fleeing the War in Ukraine, which explains why, given the uncertainty in the current situation, now is not the time for U.S. citizens to be considering adoption of children whom the Ukrainian authorities have not already identified as eligible for adoption and approved for adoption by a specific family.

    In some cases, Ukrainian courts issued final approvals of an adoption by U.S. families before Russia invaded. The Department of State is working closely with adoption service providers and the families involved in these cases. We are facilitating the departure of these children with final adoption decrees and the issuance of immigrant visas by the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw. We are sharing information and updates with a larger group of families who had initiated but not yet completed the process to adopt children from Ukraine. We will continue this dialogue and continue our work with the Ukrainian government as it seeks to ensure the safety of all its children. Please review Information for U.S. Citizens in the Process of Adopting Children from Ukraine for more information.

    The United States reaffirms its unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, and we are inspired by the many families, individuals, and organizations in the United States who are moved by the plight of the children of Ukraine and want to help. There are many ways to assist the people of Ukraine. Please see United With Ukraine on the Department of State’s website for information and resources about how U.S. citizens can connect with organizations working to help the Ukrainian people.

  • Ukraine – Ministry of Social Policy Statement on Intercountry Adoption

    From the U.S. Department of State

    March 21, 2022

    Ukraine – Ministry of Social Policy Statement on Intercountry Adoption

    On March 13, 2022, the Ukrainian Ministry of Social Policy issued the following statement on Intercountry Adoption Under Conditions of Marial Law – A Clarification. The Department of State is pleased to provide the following official translation. Official Ukrainian updates about a range of issues related to the invasion, including the evacuation of children residing in institutional care, are available on the Cabinet of Ministers website.

    OFFICIAL TRANSLATION

    Intercountry Adoption Under Conditions of Martial Law –

    A Clarification from the Ministry of Social Policy

    Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine, published March 13, 2022, at 22:19

    ______________________________________________________________

    Recently the mass media and social networks have been filled with notices about the willingness of foreigners to adopt a child from Ukraine and with appeals that Ukrainian children need to be adopted abroad.

    The Ministry of Social Policy emphasizes that under current conditions intercountry adoption is impossible and that disseminating such inaccurate information contains signs of fraud and violations of the rights of the child.

    This is why we appeal to all concerned citizens, civil society organizations, and international organizations not to disseminate misinformation and not to endanger children.

    In reality, because of risks to the life and health of children as a result of Russia’s war against Ukraine, children and families with children are being evacuated to safe areas within Ukraine as well as beyond Ukraine’s borders to other countries, including member states of the European Union.

    This is stipulated by international law and practice that pertains to intercountry adoption in such conditions.

    The policy of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees with respect to adoption is that children who are evacuated to other countries as a result of an emergency situation, including children who are granted refugee status in the territory of other countries, cannot be adopted because the majority of them are not orphans or do not have official authoritative confirmation to that effect.

    Such children require appropriate temporary care for possible reunification with [their] families in the future rather than adoption.

    In addition, adoption must not be carried out if:

    – there is hope of successfully finding and reuniting families in the best interests of the child, and

    – a reasonable period of time has not yet passed (usually at least two years) during which all possible steps were taken to find the parents or other surviving family members.

    Countries of origin of such children and countries of their temporary residence must make all possible efforts to find the family members of such children before they can be considered eligible for adoption.

    This is stipulated by national legislation of Ukraine that pertains to intercountry adoption.

    In accordance with the legislation of Ukraine, adoption of a child who is a citizen of Ukraine by foreigners or by citizens of Ukraine who reside beyond its borders requires the consent of the National Social Service. It is this Service that oversees matters pertaining to intercountry adoption.

    The National Social Service is not currently considering cases and is not providing consent and/or permits for the adoption of children by foreigners or by citizens of Ukraine who reside beyond its borders. Because of active hostilities, it is impossible to ensure high-quality verification of documents of foreign citizens who have expressed a desire to adopt a child, to ensure contact between the prospective adoptive parent and the child, to establish the child’s opinion regarding adoption by precisely this person, to obtain findings and the consent of interested parties (parents, institutions in which the children lived, guardianship and trusteeship bodies, etc.).

    Without such verification and preliminary work there is a great risk that the child could fall into the hands of fraudsters, persons who would not ensure the child’s rights and best interests, or human traffickers.

    When the situation permits resumption of high-quality verification of documents of foreigners who are prospective adoptive parents and of the preliminary work required for the process of intercountry adoption, the Government of Ukraine will inform the public and competent authorities of foreign countries without delay about the terms and specifics of resuming intercountry adoption.

  • U.S. Department of State: Ukraine – Fact Sheet: How You Can Help

    From the U.S. Department of State Office of Children’s Issues

    March 14, 2022

    UNITED WITH UKRAINE

    How You Can Help

    We understand many people want to help Ukraine and those suffering from ongoing Russian aggression. We strongly advise against U.S. citizens traveling to Ukraine. Please see the below resources on ways you can safely contribute.

    STAY INFORMED

    To learn more about the crisis and how you can support the humanitarian needs of those impacted by the conflict, visit:

    • The Department of State United with Ukraine website.
    • The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Ukraine crisis website.
    • United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) website.
    • United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) appeal to help all children in Ukraine.

    DONATE

    The Department has partnered with GoFundMe.org, an independent charity, to help address the humanitarian needs of the people affected by the Russian aggression against Ukraine. In addition, a variety of relief organizations are responding to the situation in Ukraine. Sending cash donations to experienced humanitarian relief organizations working on the ground is generally the most effective way to help and save the most lives. Below are organizations responding to the crisis.

    Airlink

    Project C.U.R.E

    All Hands and Hearts

    Project HOPE

    CARE

    Red Cross

    Catholic Relief Services

    Save the Children

    ChildFund 

    UNFPA

    Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN

    UNHCR

    Humanity & Inclusion

    UNICEF

    ICRC

    UNICEF USA

    International Medical Corps 

    UNOCHA

    International Organization for Migration

    World Central Kitchen

    Islamic Relief USA 

    World Food Program (WFP)

    KidSave

    World Health Organization (WHO)

    Medical Teams International

    TRAUMA RESOURCES

    The Child Mind Institute has prepared free trauma resources in Russian, Ukrainian, and English to assist parents, educators, and other adults in talking to children about traumatic events and identifying those who may benefit from professional attention.

    CHILD PROTECTION PRINCIPLES IN TIMES OF EMERGENCY

    We frequently receive inquiries from U.S. citizens concerned about refugee or conflict-affected children.  We share these concerns for children, and we understand that some U.S. citizens want to respond by offering to adopt or host these children in need.

    It can be extremely difficult during crises to determine whether children who appear to be orphans are truly eligible for adoption and immigration under U.S. laws. Children may be temporarily separated from their family, and their parents or other caregivers may be looking for them. Families may make the difficult choice to send children on their own in search of safety. Even when it can be demonstrated that a child’s parents are deceased, children are often cared for by other relatives and caregivers. During crises, many children who are not orphans temporarily live in orphanages for safety. Leaving orphanages may pose additional risks, including exploitation and abuse.

    During crises, it can be exceptionally difficult to fulfill the legal and documentation requirements for intercountry adoption of both the United States and the child’s country of origin. We recommend taking extra caution when considering adopting a child during a crisis and hiring an experienced immigration attorney may also be helpful.

    ADDITIONAL RESOURCES ON INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS FOR CHILDREN IN CRISES

    • UNICEF and the UN High Commissioner on Refugees joint statement on supporting children in crises.
    • International Social Service fact sheet with guidance on the application of international standards for children in crises.
    • National Council for Adoption’s statement on refugee children.

    OTHER GLOBAL GUIDANCE DOCUMENTS ON BEST PRACTICES FOR UNACCOMPANIED AND SEPARATED CHILDREN 

    EVACUATION OF UKRAINIAN CHILDREN

    Ukrainian authorities have jurisdiction over decisions regarding the safety and welfare of children in Ukraine, including whether to grant permission for children to exit the country. Ukrainian authorities have informed us they are moving children into Poland for safety and medical treatment. Child welfare and protection agencies that specialize in humanitarian crisis assistance, refugee issues, and family tracing are on the ground to assist and care for children who exit Ukraine.

    INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTION REGULATIONS

    For more information specifically about adoption issues in the Ukraine crisis, please visit: Information for U.S. Citizens in the Process of Adopting Children from Ukraine.

    Families who are currently in the process of adopting a child from Ukraine should direct questions and concerns to their accredited or approved Adoption Service Provider.

    HOSTING PROGRAMS

    Some non-governmental organizations coordinate temporary hosting programs that have included exchanges with Ukrainian children in the past.  However, Ukrainian authorities have confirmed they are not approving children for participation in hosting programs at this time. The Department is therefore unable to seek approval for a child’s participation in a hosting program at this time. Please see Ukraine Adoption Update for additional information.

    Although often referred to as “orphan hosting” programs, those interested in hosting should be aware that many of the children who participate in these programs are not eligible for adoption. Children who travel to the United States for hosting programs do so with the Ukrainian government’s authorization and on a U.S. non-immigrant visa. The visa is typically valid only for one entry to the United States during the narrow date range of the program. A new visa is required before travelling to the United States again.

    Previously-hosted children may apply for a nonimmigrant visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate outside Ukraine. However, there is no “emergency hosting” visa category, and applicants must have permission from the appropriate guardian to travel and must meet the legal criteria for an existing category of non-immigrant visa, generally a B-2 visitor visa. Applications for nonimmigrant visas are evaluated under Section 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and require an applicant to demonstrate sufficient ties to a county other than the United States that would compel departure after a temporary stay. Nonimmigrant visa applicants are “…presumed to be an immigrant until (s)he establishes to the satisfaction of the consular officer…that (s)he is entitled to nonimmigrant status…”. The presumption of immigration intent in Section 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act can be difficult to overcome. Consular officers cannot issue visas based on assurances or recommendations by third parties or on the ability of a sponsor to provide financial support. Please see Visas for Ukrainian Nationals for additional information.

  • Ukraine Update from U.S. Department of State Office of Children’s Issues

    March 9, 2022

    The Office of Children’s Issues has received many inquiries from prospective adoptive parents (PAPs) at all stages of the adoption process in Ukraine who are understandably concerned about the safety of the children.

    Many families have previously hosted the child they wish to adopt and hope to find a mechanism to bring the child to the United States until the crisis in Ukraine resolves.  We are also hearing from hosting organizations and other humanitarian groups who seek information about how to bring Ukrainian children to the United States outside of the intercountry adoption process.  Right now, the situation in Ukraine is fluid. We are in touch with Ukrainian authorities who have expressed concern about moving children out of Europe at this point. Our understanding is that children may depart Ukraine with their legal guardians, who are often the orphanage directors, if other required criteria are met. The Ukrainian government has confirmed they are not approving children to participate in host programs at this time and are taking measures to ensure their safety in neighboring countries.

    We will continue to seek clarifications from the Ukrainian government for how parents with final court approval and final orders of adoption may proceed.  PAPs may find helpful Information for U.S. Citizens In the Process of Adopting in Ukraine on our website.

    We are in close touch with the Ukrainian government which confirms that most children have already been evacuated to Poland and are receiving all appropriate care, including specialized medical treatment, as necessary.

    We hope this confirmation that the Ukrainian government is monitoring the children’s safety and care will bring some relief to families seeking to adopt.  We appreciate your assistance in sharing the Ukrainian government’s efforts with your clients who are in earlier stages of the process and to any concerned individuals or organizations that may consult with your agency.

    The situation is evolving. We will continue to communicate with the Ukrainian government and will provide further updates as they become available.

  • Immigration Help Available to Those Affected by Special Situations, Including the Invasion of Ukraine

    From the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

    U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services reminds the public that we offer immigration services that may help people affected by extreme situations, including the invasion of Ukraine.

    The following measures may be available on a case-by-case basis upon request:

    • Changing a nonimmigrant status or extending a nonimmigrant stay for an individual currently in the United States. If you fail to apply for the extension or change before expiration of your authorized period of admission, we may excuse that if the delay was due to extraordinary circumstances beyond your control;
    • Reparole of individuals previously granted parole by USCIS;
    • Expedited processing of advance parole requests;
    • Expedited adjudication of requests for off-campus employment authorization for F-1 students experiencing severe economic hardship;
    • Expedited adjudication of petitions or applications, including employment authorization applications, when appropriate;
    • Consideration of fee waiver requests due to an inability to pay;
    • Flexibility for those who received a Request for Evidence or a Notice of Intent to Deny but were unable to submit evidence or otherwise respond in a timely manner;
    • Flexibility if you were unable to appear for a scheduled interview with USCIS;
    • Expedited replacement of lost or damaged immigration or travel documents issued by USCIS, such as a Permanent Resident Card (Green Card), Employment Authorization Document, or Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record; and
    • Rescheduling a biometric services appointment.

    Note: When you request help, please explain how the impact of the extreme situations or unforeseen circumstances, such as the invasion of Ukraine, created a need for the requested relief.

    Visit our Special Situations page or call us for more information about how we assist individuals affected by extreme situations and unforeseen circumstances. To learn how to request these measures, call us at 800-375-5283. For people with disabilities: (TTY) 800-767-1833 or (VRS) 877-709-5797.

    Please update your address with USCIS to ensure you receive all correspondence and benefits from us in a timely manner and avoid possible delays related to your case. To update your address with USCIS, visit our How to Change Your Address page. Please note that changing your address with the U.S. Postal Service will not change your address with USCIS.

    Visit our Office Closings page to determine whether an office is open and to learn about rescheduling appointments. In particular, if your InfoPass appointment was affected by the unforeseen circumstances, you can reschedule your appointment online or by calling the USCIS Contact Center.

    All Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, requirements remain in place. Those affected by unforeseen circumstances should visit I-9 Central for more information on how to complete Form I-9 if an employee’s documents are lost, stolen, or damaged.

    USCIS Logo