DOS Warns of Form I-604 Orphan Determination Adjudication Times in Non-Hague Convention Cases

Eliza Grinberg's picture

On April 30, 2019, the U.S. Department of State published a reminder for prospective adoptive parents about potentially long processing times for the Form I-604, Determination on Child for Adoption, in non-Hague Convention cases [PDF version].

The notice explains that when the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) adjudicates a Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, in the United States, “the consular section in the child's country must complete a Form I-604 determination.” The Form I-604 determination is “to verify the child's orphan status prior to visa adjudication.” The DOS cautions prospective adoptive parents of children from countries that are not signatories o to the Hague Convention that “depending on the circumstances of the case, it can take several weeks or, in some cases, months to complete the Form I-604 orphan determination.” It added that “[w]hile the Form I-604 [orphan] determination for most cases will consist of an analysis of available documents, some cases will require additional interviews, documentation, or a field investigation, all of which may result in delayed processing of the case.” The DOS listed additional factors that may result in processing delays for the Form I-604 orphan determination:

Prevailing fraud patterns in the country;
Available staffing in the consular section; and
Poor infrastructure and record keeping in the child's country of origin.

Although the DOS tries to adjudicate all Form I-604 orphan determinations expeditiously, it advises prospective adoptive parents “to keep their travel plans flexible while awaiting the Form I-604 determination results.” Prospective adoptive parents are not required to remain in the country during the entire Form I-604 orphan determination process, and may return to the United States pending its completion. The DOS reminds prospective adoptive parents that they should not schedule immigrant visa interviews until they have heard from the applicable consular section regarding the favorable disposition of the Form I-604 orphan determination.

Intercountry adoption is a complicated and time-consuming process, especially for certain non-Hague Convention cases. Prospective adoptive parents should consult with an experienced immigration attorney and their Adoption Service Providers (if the process has already begun) for case-specific guidance on what to expect and what evidence may be necessary for a successful adoption process.

Please see our website's growing section on intercountry adoption to learn more about the process generally [see category].

DOS Warns of Form I-604 Orphan Determination Adjudication Times in Non-Hague Convention Cases