As of March 22, 2020 New York State is under a Shelter in Place. Family Connections Inc. staff will continue to work from home to advocate and serve our families. We will have limited availability in the office and we have spent the last week preparing for this eventuality. Please do not hesitate to reach out via email and leaving a message at our office. We will receive emails with your voicemails automatically. Thanks for you patience in this unprecedented event as we give each other the grace we need to move forward.
From Dan - Just an FYI about USCIS Centers:
On March 18, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services temporarily suspended in-person services at its field offices, asylum offices, and application support centers (ASCs) to help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). USCIS is readying offices to reopen on or after June 4. Employees in these offices are continuing to perform mission-essential services that do not require face-to-face contact with the public while the offices are closed.
While offices are temporarily closed, USCIS will continue to provide limited emergency in-person services. Please call the USCIS Contact Center for assistance with emergency services.
USCIS field offices will send notices to applicants and petitioners with scheduled appointments and naturalization ceremonies impacted by the extended temporary closure. USCIS asylum offices will send interview cancellation notices and automatically reschedule asylum interviews. When the interview is rescheduled, asylum applicants will receive a new interview notice with the new time, date and location of the interview. When USCIS again resumes operations for in-person services, USCIS will automatically reschedule ASC appointments due to the temporary office closure. Individuals will receive a new appointment letter in the mail. Those who had InfoPass or other appointments must reschedule through the USCIS Contact Center once field offices are open to the public again. Please check to see if the respective office has been reopened before calling the Contact Center.
Please also visit uscis.gov/coronavirus for updates. For the latest information on the status of an office, visit https://www.uscis.gov/about-us/uscis-response-covid-19 .
From Dan - I am happy to announce that guidance has been released regarding the new order about suspending immigration for 60 days. The Washington Post reports that adoption is exempted as well as a number of other forms of immigration, see link below.
We have confirmed from a number of providers in Ukraine that the SDA will start accepting dossiers effective today. We do not know how long they will be doing this for and they will not be giving out new appointments but it will mean that your documents will not be at risk of aging out.
To Ukraine families from Dan - We have just heard that the Ministry of Social Policy has announced that they are going to remain closed until April 24, 2020. At that point I assume they will evaluate where Ukraine stands in their progression of COVID-19. We know this continues to be a source of anxiety and distress in these difficult times. Just keep in mind, if you are hoping to adopt a child who is turning 16, we have to file the I-600 no later than 180 days after the I600-A approval.
From The US Department of State's Office of Children's Issues:
Dear Adoption Service Providers:
Thank you for your ongoing communication regarding prospective and adoptive families who are impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We appreciate all that you are doing to support families and children during these unprecedented circumstances. Intercountry adoptions cases remain a top priority for the Department, and we appreciate your patience as our officers are working as quickly as possible to respond to your concerns related to COVID-19, as well as non-COVID-19 inquiries.
As noted in our last message, general information regarding COVID-19 and its effect on travel is available in our March 20 notice about Covid-19 Impact on Travel and Consular Operations, at travel.state.gov, and at the links previously provided and included below. Our office cannot respond to individual inquiries about issues addressed in this publicly available information. We will continue to do our best to respond promptly to your emails regarding issues not addressed through these public sources.
U.S. Citizens Outside of the United States
Please encourage your U.S. citizen clients who are currently outside of the United States to register for the Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). This is the best way for them to receive regular updates from the Embassy about changes in foreign government decisions regarding quarantines, travel restrictions, border closings, and other safety concerns, as well as information about the Embassy’s consular operations and efforts to assist U.S. citizens.
Please also encourage them to monitor the Department’s website, www.travel.state.gov, and to be aware of the resources the Office of Children’s Issues provided regarding how to stay informed about local conditions.
Questions about Embassy/Consulate Operations
Please review our March 20 notice, Covid-19 Impact on Travel and Consular Operations, which provides information about where to find updates. The Office of Children’s Issues is focused on responding to emergency matters and appreciates your use of existing resources where possible.
As you’re likely aware, consular officers around the world are working around the clock, with limited staffing, and under unprecedented circumstances to respond effectively to COVID-19 and to update their websites regularly as conditions and accessibility change. If one Embassy is more or less responsive than another, this is a reflection of the circumstances on the ground, which are varied based on many factors outside of their control. They have been instructed to prioritize services to U.S. citizen emergency services and to suspend routine visa services. Nonetheless, intercountry adoption cases remain a top priority for the Department, and cases where the adoptive parents are in country and the case is in the final stages of visa processing may still be processed to the degree that Embassy resources and foreign government rules allow.
Questions about Visas
Adoptive families should be aware of the Level 4 Global Health Advisory and should follow closely any decisions on the part of the foreign government regarding quarantines, travel restrictions, and border closing. As previously reported, on March 18, the Department announced the suspension of routine visa services worldwide. Embassies and Consulates will resume routine visa services as soon as possible but are unable to provide a specific date at this time. Adoptive parents who elect to remain outside the United States should make contingency plans for a lengthy stay.
We understand and share your concern about families who are in the process of adopting or have completed the adoption of a child for whom the immigration or visa application process is not yet completed. We have received many inquiries asking whether the Department can issue an “emergency visa” in order to travel to the United States immediately.
- Intercountry adoption cases remain a high priority for the Department, and adoption-based immigrant visa applications will continue to be processed as mission-critical.
- Please be aware there is no such thing as an “emergency visa.” Visa categories are defined by the Immigration and Nationality Act and fall under two categories: immigrant and non-immigrant.
- Adoptive parents may, however, request an emergency visa appointment by contacting the relevant Embassy or Consulate directly. The Office of Children’s Issues does not have a role in scheduling appointments. Because routine visa services have been suspended, parents should be prepared to explain how their circumstances constitute an emergency.
- Cases involving delays in the foreign process: We are aware that in some countries, courts or other government offices are closing or experiencing significant delays. The U.S. government has limited ability to influence foreign government decisions about closures related to COVID-19 concerns. Embassies and our office are in direct, regular contact with adoption authorities to seek expedited handled where possible.
- Cases involving ongoing I-604 investigations: In non-Convention countries, under U.S. law, the Embassy or Consulate cannot complete the immigrant visa application process until the I-604 investigation is completed. The Embassy or Consulate’s ability to conduct required work on the I-604 investigation may be severely impacted by quarantines, travel restrictions, and reduced consular operations in response to COVID-19 concerns. At this time, it is not possible to expedite the I-604 process.
- Non-immigrant visas: Adopted or prospective adoptive children may qualify for a B-2 non-immigrant visa for temporary travel to the United States; however, the requirements for a non-immigrant visa are strict and require the applicant to demonstrate ties to their home country and an intent to return. A non-immigrant visa may not be used in lieu of existing intercountry adoption procedures or immigration law, even in emergency situations. Prospective adoptive parents who wish to seek a non-immigrant visa for their adopted or prospective adoptive child must be prepared to explain the nature of their travel, and to demonstrate that the child has the appropriate permissions and documents to travel abroad and intent to return.
- Non-immigrant visas are generally considered to be routine visa services, which are suspended at this time. Applicants with an urgent need to travel immediately should follow the guidance provided on the Embassy’s website to request an emergency visa appointment. Embassies and Consulates may offer non-immigrant visa appointments if conditions in the foreign country and post resources allow.
- I-130 Process: The I-130 process falls under USCIS jurisdiction. Expatriate U.S. citizen adoptive parents who believe their child may be eligible to immigrate now via the I-130 process should contact USCIS for information about procedures and possible processing timelines.
The Office of Children’s Issues is exploring what role we may be able to play to seek information about foreign government flexibility on post-adoption reporting requirements during this time when home visits and other face-to-face contact is being discouraged around the world. We will provide information when it is available but cannot offer a specific timeframe as our focus is on emergency matters.
ATS Case Reassignments and Hague Certificates for Outgoing Adoptions
The Office of Children’s Issues staff are working remotely at this time and cannot currently access the technology required to reassign cases in ATS or to process and print Hague Certificates for outgoing cases. You may continue to email us with requests about either of these two issues, and we will address them as soon as we are able. If the need for an outgoing Hague Adoption Certificate is urgent, e.g. child cannot obtain health insurance without the Certificate, please let us know. We are exploring a work-around for emergencies.
Because we are working remotely, we are unable to accept applications for Hague Certificates by mail. If you mailed us an application recently, we ask that you resubmit your application via email, and we will follow-up with you directly regarding your application.
Again, thank you for your commitment.
Office of Children’s Issues
March 16, 2020
From The US Embassy in Kyiv Ukraine:
Attention U.S. citizens: Looking for the latest information about COVID-19 and Ukraine? Visit the U.S. Embassy website: https://ua.usembassy.gov/
March 14, 2020
From The US Embassy in Kyiv Ukraine:
On March 14, the Government of Ukraine announced that it is suspending all commercial flights to and from Ukraine for a period of two weeks beginning on 00:01 a.m., March 17. This is in addition to barring entry for all foreigners effective 00:01 a.m., March 16. All border crossing points will be closed, including all land borders. The U.S. Embassy urges all U.S. citizens who wish to leave before the border closures to consider rescheduling their flights.
As of March 16, U.S. Embassy Kyiv will suspend all routine immigrant and non-immigrant visa services until further notice. The U.S. Embassy in Ukraine will continue to provide all services for U.S. citizens, including adoptions. Please see below for contact information.
U.S. government personnel are on reduced work schedules and encouraging social distancing. Personnel are further advised to avoid large gatherings and minimize non-essential travel.
The Department of State has issued a Global Level 3 Health Advisory advising U.S. citizens to reconsider travel abroad due to the global impact of COVID-19.
More info: https://ua.usembassy.gov/
IMPORTANT UKRAINE UPDATE
March 13, 2020
As of today, The Ministry of Social Policy has announced that it will suspend acceptance of adoption dossier until April 3, 2020. At that point the ministry will re-evaluate the Covid-19 pandemic and decide if and when to begin accepting more dossiers. Families who dossier have already been submitted will be on hold for an appointment if one has not already been granted. This is an every changing process in Ukraine as both the country and the world are continuing to adopt to the ever changing new. Please check back for continued updates as we receive them.
March 11, 2020
Adoptive families must meet 125% of the U.S. poverty guidelines. Here is the direct link to the most updated information for Poverty Guidelines: https://www.uscis.gov/i-864p
Below are the tables from the USCIS site:
August 1, 2019
Dear members of U.S. adoption community,
We would like to inform you of recent changes introduced by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) due to the ongoing measles outbreak in Ukraine. These new requirements apply to all immigrant visa applicants, including adopted children.
Effective August 1, 2019, regardless of measles vaccination history, all immigrant visa applicants will undergo a blood test during the medical examination to verify the presence of measles antibodies. If the result of this test is negative the visa applicant will be required to receive a measles vaccination before obtaining medical clearance to travel. Obtaining measles vaccinations for recently adopted children may be complicated due to the way the Ukrainian medical system works, and this could delay your travel to the United States.
If the adopted child has not previously received the full series of measles vaccinations, please make sure that the child gets a booster vaccine prior to the final medical examination. Even if the child’s record indicates full vaccination, we recommend a blood test in advance to determine whether the child has active antibodies, and if not, early administration of a booster shot since it can take up to two weeks for antibodies to register on the blood test.
All adopted children ages 0-10 years old are eligible for a vaccination waiver prior to departure, which means that they will be required to get any missing vaccinations within 30 days upon arrival to the U.S. Children ages 11 and older are required to meet all CDC-recommended vaccination requirements, including additional measles vaccinations, if needed, before their travel to the United States.
August 1, 2019
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced that applicants can now complete and file Form N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship, and Form N-600K, Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate Under Section 322 online.
Before an applicant can file a Form N-600 or N-600K online, they mus first create a USCIS online account. Through an online account, the applicant can securely and conveniently: