• 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.

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  • 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:

    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.

    PAPs should be aware that 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. The Department has also issued several Security Alerts that address the ongoing crisis. On February 23, the Government of Ukraine declared a state of emergency and closed its airspace to all commercial flights due to Russian military actions.  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.

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

    PAPs should communicate primarily with their ASP throughout all stages of the adoption process. ASPs are responsible for providing adoption services in individual cases, are knowledgeable about the next steps for your adoption, have contacts in Ukraine with whom they can consult, and are in frequent communication with the Department’s Office of Children’s Issues. PAPs may also contact the Office of Children’s Issues directly at Adoption@state.gov.  PAPs who do reach out to any U.S. agency, the U.S. Embassy, or individuals in Ukraine related to their adoption case should copy their ASP for awareness.

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

    The Government of Ukraine, through their Adoption Authority, has sole authority for several aspects of the intercountry adoption process. The Department has requested the Government of Ukraine expedite processing for children with finalized adoptions who need new documents or where the 30-day waiting period is pending, as well as those where a specific court date to finalize the adoption has been assigned. We have also requested court hearings for these cases be conducted virtually to allow for them to take place outside of Ukraine. We are aware of some cases that have been expedited but have not received confirmation that expedited processing will be granted for all the cases we requested. We are also aware that some courts have allowed virtual hearings. Continued military action in Ukraine will likely impact whether government offices and courts are open or are able to conduct business.

    ASPs may be able to request expedited processing through their contacts in Ukraine as well.

    Q:  What if I have a final adoption order for my child but the judge did not waive the 30-day waiting period before the child may depart Ukraine?

    The Department has requested the 30-day waiting period be waived in all cases but has no ability to determine the decisions of individual judges.  Adoptive parents should contact their ASP for information and guidance specific to their situation, including how to safely facilitate the child or children’s exit from Ukraine. The U.S. Embassy in Warsaw, Poland will process immigrant visa applications for adopted children so they may immigrate to the United States. ASPs are encouraged to work with their Ukrainian providers to facilitate exit through the border with Poland where possible but should prioritize safety.

    Q:  What if I have a final adoption order for my child but the child has not been issued a new passport or birth certificate?

    ASPs and their Ukrainian providers should collect all available documents for the child’s adoption and immigration and ensure they transfer with the child. If crossing by land from Ukraine to Poland, the child’s identification and citizenship documents will be requested by Ukrainian and Polish authorities for authorizing the child’s departure from Ukraine and entry to Poland and by the consular official at the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw.

    The Department has requested the Ukrainian government expedite issuance of new birth certificates and passports for all adopted children that require them.  We have not received confirmation that this is possible. Continued military action in Ukraine will likely impact whether government offices are open or are able to conduct business.

    Not all children will require a new birth certificate or passport, especially if the child’s name will not be changed or will be changed after arrival in the United States. Many Ukrainian children living in orphanages already have a passport; however, some may be “internal” passports invalid for international travel.  Children who have previously traveled to the United States usually have international passports and may be able to use them to depart Ukraine.

    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. Closures of judicial offices are possible at any time, and we are unable to track the operating status of each. PAPs should expect this to fluctuate throughout the country in accordance with the specific security situation of each location.

    Q:  What if I have accepted an official referral form the Ministry of Social Policy (MSP) but there have not yet been any court hearings, or I have rejected a referral and not yet been offered another one?  Can those cases be expedited?

    The Department has not yet learned from the Ukraine Adoption Authority whether it is able to allow for the continuation of adoption cases at this time and whether required court hearings may be conducted virtually to allow for the process to continue outside of Ukraine. Lengthy closures of government and judicial offices are possible and cases at these early stages of the process are not likely to progress in the near term. The Department is working closely with ASPs to track the status of all pending adoption cases in Ukraine. PAPs should consult their ASP about how the current security situation in Ukraine will impact their adoption plans in the short and long term.

    Q:  What if I have started the adoption process but I have not yet received an official referral form the Ministry of Social Policy (MSP)?  Can those cases be expedited?

    PAPs that have not yet received an official referral have not yet been approved to adopt a child from Ukraine. The Department is unable to assist with these cases.

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

    Children without a final adoption or guardianship order generally need authorization from their legal guardians in Ukraine to depart Ukraine in order to apply in another country for a U.S. visa and for onward travel to the United States. The Department is unable able to request such authorization on PAPs’ behalf.

    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?

    Children without a final adoption or guardianship order are generally not eligible for an adoption-based immigrant visa to the United States. Children in the process of adoption without a final adoption or guardianship order are also 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.

    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.

    Q:  What if I have previously hosted a child or children and now I am interested in adopting them?

    While many families that host a child through a hosting program subsequently decide to pursue intercountry adoption, these are not intercountry adoption cases unless or until the family has started the intercountry adoption process.  Although hosting programs are often referred to as “orphan hosting,” not all of the participating children are orphans under the Ukrainian laws that determine eligibility for intercountry adoption or under U.S. laws that determine eligibility to immigrate to the United States. The Ukrainian Adoption Authority has authority for determining a child’s eligibility for adoption, and there is also no guarantee you will be able to adopt a specific child, even if you have previously hosted that child.

    Persons interested in pursuing intercountry adoption are encouraged to visit the Department’s website for more information about the intercountry adoption process, including how to locate an ASP.

    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 frequently receive inquiries from U.S. citizens concerned about the plight of children who are refugees or are in war zones. 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 and take extra caution 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.

    The Department does not have a role in seeking approval for a child’s participation in a hosting program, nor is there a special non-immigrant visa category for children participating in these programs.

    Bureau of Consular Affairs
    Overseas Citizens Services | Office of Children’s Issues

  • NCFA: Regarding Refugee Children Fleeing the War in Ukraine

    The National Council for Adoption (NCFA) has posted a statement regarding refugee children who are being impacted/displaced by the war in Ukraine:

    Regarding Refugee Children Fleeing the War in Ukraine

    It is common following natural disasters, regional conflicts, and other events that displace children that questions about adoption arise. Our attention is drawn to the plight of these children and our hearts ache to provide them with the protection and love that they deserve.

    The war in Ukraine is not an exception: videos and journalists’ reports tell of thousands of refugees fleeing the war and we know that this means many children are separated from family and other caregivers. The desire to provide a home and family to these children reflects the best intentions and a sincere desire to help. However, this is not the appropriate time or context to be considering adoption by U.S. citizens. Why? Adoption is only a possibility for children for whom parental rights have been terminated or for whom there is clear evidence that they are orphaned. It is paramount that the identities of these children and their families be clearly established, and their social, legal, and familial status is fully verified by governmental authorities. For most of these children, we cannot do that at this time.

    There are limited cases in which an intercountry adoption is appropriate – cases that have legal paperwork already in place and can follow the established legal safeguards and practices. While there are a few cases like this, most children impacted by this war are not currently eligible for adoption and should not be currently considered for adoption.

    Families who are in the process to adopt should be in contact with their adoption agency regarding what steps they can take.

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  • Do Not Travel Advisory Issued for Ukraine – Consular Services at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv Suspended as of Sunday, February 13

    The Office of Children’s Issues
    U.S. Department of State

    February 12, 2022, the Department of State ordered the departure of most U.S. direct hire employees from Embassy Kyiv due to the continued threat of Russian military action. U.S. citizens should not travel to Ukraine, and those in Ukraine should depart immediately using commercial or other privately available transportation options.

    As of Sunday, February 13, 2022, the Department of State will suspend consular services at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv. The Embassy will maintain a small consular presence in Lviv, Ukraine to handle emergencies, but will not be able to provide passport, visa or routine consular services, including processing adoption visas and assistance to U.S. citizens and their adopted children in departing Ukraine.  U.S. citizens may seek these services at U.S. Embassies in neighboring countries. U.S. citizens seeking emergency assistance in Ukraine should complete this online form and the State Department will respond.

    All ASPs with active adoption programs in Ukraine are asked to contact any families currently in Ukraine or with plans to travel immediately to ensure understanding of this important update.

    Click here for more information on the U.S. Department of State travel advisory:
    https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories/ukraine-travel-advisory.html

  • India: Relaxing Quarantine for International Travelers

    On February 10, 2022, India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare announced new guidelines for international arrivals, which includes lifting the 7 day quarantine requirement, effective Monday, February 14, 2022.  Click here to read more:   GuidelinesforInternationalarrivalsupdatedon10thFebruary2022

  • India: Quarantine Requirement for International Travelers

    All international travelers are still required to obtain a negative COVID test prior to arrival and complete a self-declaration form through Air Suviddha. Upon arrival, travelers must quarantine for 7 days and take a RT-PCR test on the 8th day. Exemptions to the quarantine are not available at this time.
    https://indianexpress.com/article/india/covid-19-guidelines-international-travellers-india-7717355/

    Please check the US Embassy website for more information on COVID-19 requirements.   https://in.usembassy.gov/covid-19-information/

  • Ukraine Security Alert

    January 18, 2022
    The U.S. Embassy in Ukraine issued a Security Alert on January 12 reminding U.S. citizens that security conditions in the region may change with little or no notice.  Adoption agencies have been requested  by the Office of Children’s Issues, U.S. Department of State, to notify them of all prospective adoptive parents who are currently in Ukraine or en route. Agencies are to email ASPAdoption@state.gov using subject line: Notification of family in Ukraine and include the following information:
    • Names of prospective adoptive parents and their contact information
    • City/region where they are staying in Ukraine
    • Date of their planned departure from Ukraine

    If you have any questions or concerns, please contact ASPAdoption@state.gov.

  • ​INDIA: Advisory on Tourist Visas

    Embassy of India

    Washington DC

    ​​Advisory on Tourist Visas

                The Govern​​ment of India has decided to issue fresh tourist visas with effect from 15 October, 2021 for group tourism and from 15 November, 2021 for individual travel.  In this context, the following may be noted:

    All foreign nationals intending to visit India for tourism will be allowed to enter India on e-Tourist Visa/regular paper Tourist Visa through chartered flights (for group tourism only) with effect from 15 October, 2021.

    All foreign nationals intending to visit India for individual tourism purposes will be permitted to enter India on e-Tourist Visa/regular paper Tourist Visa with effect from 15 November, 2021. Such travel will be allowed through Vande Bharat Mission, Air Bubble Scheme or by any scheduled/non-scheduled commercial flight allowed by the Indian Ministry of Civil Aviation.

    Foreign nationals will not be allowed to enter India through land routes on e-Tourist Visa/regular paper Tourist Visa.

    A Single Entry e-Tourist Visa/regular paper Tourist Visa valid for a stay of up to 30 days will be issued, which will have to be utilized within a period of 120 days from the date of issue. This visa will be issued on a gratis basis for a limited time once to each applicant.

    It may be noted that existing valid e-Tourist Visa/regular paper Tourist Visa issued before 6 October, 2021 will continue to remain suspended and travel on such visas is not permitted.

    The process of obtaining e-Tourist Visa/Regular Tourist Visa may be accessed at the following links:

    e-Tourist Visa – https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/evisa/tvoa.html. The applicant may note that the Embassy does not process e-visas and any enquiries in this regard will need to be made directly on the e-visa portal.

    Regular Tourist Visa through the Embassy of India –https://www.indianembassyusa.gov.in/extra?id=88

    Applicants are also advised to go through the guidelines for international travel to India available at https://www.mohfw.gov.in/pdf/Guidelinesforinternationalarrivals17022021.pdf.

     

  • ADOPTION 101: Free informational webinar

    In honor of National Adoption Month, NCFA is presenting ADOPTION 101: A free, informational webinar for people considering or just starting the adoption process.

    Monday, November 8th, 2021

    5:00 – 6:00 pm ET

    More information and registration is available HERE or via adoptioncouncil.org/webinars.

    The webinar will include a short time of Q&A with attendees, and the recording will be available afterwards through our online learning library.

    National Council For Adoption