Those looking to adopt internationally may find a more difficult process ahead of them as the Trump administration prepares to shutter all international offices of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
On Tuesday, The Washington Post reported that USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna will transfer all USCIS duties from international employees to domestic offices and the State Department’s embassies and consulates. More than 20 offices — including those in New Delhi, Port-au-Prince in Haiti, Rome and other foreign cities — will be impacted by these changes.
Cissna said in an email to staff that the office closings are designed to maximize USCIS’s resources. The changes will likely affect such processes as family visa applications, citizenship petitions from military members stationed abroad, and foreign adoption.
Adoption professionals worry that the closing of USCIS offices will further slow the already complicated process of international adoption.
“These are services that U.S. citizens are paying for,” Ryan Hanlon, vice president of the National Council For Adoption, told the Washington Post.
He also noted that USCIS runs on fees from immigrants and U.S. citizens: “It shouldn’t be more complex.”
Foreign adoption processes vary by country but, for many people in the process, having a local USCIS expert available abroad during these steps can be invaluable. In order to obtain a visa for an internationally adopted child, parents must be approved by USCIS before traveling to the country from which they will adopt. Once they arrive, they often need to complete a visa interview at the embassy or consulate within that country. Only after they have received a visa are they typically able to return back to the U.S.
Obtaining all the documents necessary for reentry into the United States can be difficult, but it’s a process that most international USCIS offices currently complete. These offices also investigate fraud, aid asylees and refugees, and provide public information in local foreign languages.
With the anticipated closings of these USCIS offices, it’s more important than ever that hopeful intended parents work with a qualified, Hague-approved adoption agency from the very beginning of their adoption process. Otherwise, they may find their adoption process in jeopardy after they have spent the time, effort and money to travel to a foreign country.
Watch for updates from the Washington Post for other developments on these closings. For more information about international adoption, please contact your local adoption agency or USCIS.