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USCIS Provides Guidance on Universal Accreditation Act and Consolidated Appropriations Act

The Universal Accreditation Act (UAA) went into effect on July 14, 2014. It requires that all persons or agencies providing adoption services on behalf of prospective adoptive parents of immigrant children must be accredited, or be a supervised or exempted provider.  These providers are a necessary part of the application process for immigrating the child. The accreditation requirement applies regardless of whether the adoption falls under the jurisdiction of the Hague Convention or not. The UAA does not apply to grandfathered cases, where the prospective adoptive parents: (1) filed the Form I-601A or Form I-600 before July 13, 2013; or (2) filed an application to the relevant competent authority or accepted a match with a child before that date.  Beginning on July 14, 2014, the accreditation requirement will affect the adjudication of the home study preparation and the identification of a “primary provider.”

The Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) went into effect on January 17, 2014.  It changed the definition of an orphan to no longer require that both adoptive parents in a married couple personally see and observe the orphan.  Beginning on that date, an adoption can be considered “full and final” for immigration purposes if at least one adoptive parent has seen and observed the child.

The USCIS issued a policy memo on June 30, 2014 that provides guidance on both of these statutory changes. The memo revises Chapter 21, 5(b)(4, (d), and (e) of the Adjudicator’s Field Manual.