Sunday, July 18, 2010

Humanitarian Parole Program Update

On July 16th, the Joint Council of International Children's Services hosted a conference call for Adoption Service Providers and adoptive families updating them on some important new developments for Haitian children admitted to the US on Humanitarian Parole visas.

The National Benefits Center:
All Humanitarian Parole A-files (your child’s immigrations file) have been transferred to the National Benefits Center. The NBC staff is going through the files to ascertain whether your child should be Category 1 (legal adoption in Haiti completed) or Category 2 (no legal adoption in Haiti).

If you know that you are Category 1, do not request your files back at this time. It will delay the process. If USCIS has already returned your child’s ORIGINAL documents to you, consult with your agency to make sure the NBC gets the documents they need to help you.

Changing categories: if your adoption is now complete in Haiti, after the earthquake:
Some of you have changed categories since your child came home, as our partners in Haiti have continued to process cases. If you now have an adoption decree, the National Benefits Center will need scans of the decree and a certified English translation. You adoption service provider should be able to assist you with the process.  The email address for the NBC is:

The one case ABI submitted for a change of category was reviewed and upgraded to Category 1 in under 24 hours!

If you are Category 1:
If the NBC determines that your case is a Category 1 case, where your child was legally adopted in Haiti, your child’s file will be sent to the local USCIS field office. The local office will contact you to set up an appointment to file the following forms:
  • I-485 change of status
  • I-600 (if you did not do so already)
  • I-693 medical clearances
Please give your local USCIS field office until September 30th to contact you. After that, your agency can contact them if you have not been given an appointment. If you had a pending I600 in process, you’ll need to keep your fingerprints current

There is an extensive list of documents you'll need to bring to your appointment, just as your Haitian facilitator would have needed to present them to USCIS in Port-au-Prince.  You agency should be able to help you with assembling the documents and providing certified translations as needed.

Forms and Fees:
Even if you already had an approved I-600, you are going to have to file the I485 change of immigrant status form. This form has a $930 filing fee. We strongly advise ABI families that you do NOT ask for the fees to be waived, as claiming that you cannot afford to pay them may cause USCIS to accuse you of fraud in your home study, where you stated that you could afford to adopt, or of not being able to support your child, which would cause them to REFUSE your request for citizenship.

If you paid the fees for your I600-A, you should not have to pay again for your I600, unless you are adopting a second, unrelated child and did not pay the $670 for his I600.

In some cases, you will receive a Certificate of Citizenship for your child at your appointment. In others, it will arrive by mail within 30 days of your appointment. You will then be able to obtain a US passport and travel internationally with your child.

If you are Category 2:
If you do not have a Haitian adoption decree available to prove your adoption was completed in Haiti, you are Category 2. We’ve been instructed to have you complete your adoptions in your state of residence. Some of you have been able to do so already, with relatively little difficulty. Other states are making the process very difficult, as there has been no proof that anyone with authority has granted you custody of your child. USCIS and ORR are going to remedy that situation within the next few days. ALL HP families will receive a packet of letters, including documentation from ORR stating that your child is in ORR’s legal custody, and that ORR is granting you formal consent to adopt your child.

You do not need to keep your fingerprints current with USCIS. You will have to contact the NBC to get copies or your original documents from Haiti – they will NOT be sent to you automatically.

USCIS is reaching out to all the State court judges so they understand the program.  At a recent national conference for all State court juvenile judges, USCIS attended and presented to all of the judges so that they could understand how to grant adoptions for the HP kids.

After you have legally adopted your child in your state of residence, you will still need to file for US Citizenship. At this time, you cannot do so until you can prove two years of legal and physical custody of your child. You will need to file the forms as listed for the Category 1 families, above.

The Help Haiti act has been introduced simultaneously in the House of Representative and the Senate. It would allow Category 2 families to apply for an adjustment of status immediately. We’ll keep you posted on any news, and of course you can always check the Joint Council website (

 Traveling Overseas:
It is technically possible to travel out of the country with your paroled child and return, using form I131. It is a discretionary request for permission to leave the US and return. However as it is discretionary, generally granted only for emergencies, and does not have to be honored by the foreign country to which you have traveled, ABI very strongly recommends that our families do not leave the US with their children until they have proof of full US Citizenship.

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