Friday, June 7, 2013

The new "PAIR" process for Ethiopia

If you are keeping up with Ethiopia adoptions then you know things are constantly changing.  This is the case for any sending country, really.  This information was given by my agency recently to Associates (those of us who put on seminars etc.).  It was also sent to our families currently in process.  I thought I'd put it out there in the event you are with another agency that hasn't fully explained this to you yet, you are researching and learning the ins and outs or if you are a praying soul who is willing to continue lifting this program and the children waiting for families to the Lord.

Here goes:

Earlier this week, we shared a blog post (USCIS Implements Pre-Adoption Immigration Review (PAIR) for Ethiopia Casesregarding some changes in how USCIS and Ethiopia will process immigrations approvals for adopted children.  USCIS hosted a call yesterday to discuss the implementation of the Pre-Adoption Immigration Review (PAIR) process.  America World staff participated in this call to learn about this process and how it will affect the Ethiopian adoptions. While the call did provide new information, there are still details that we will not know until the process is completely implemented. 
In the new PAIR system, USCIS will review and provide a pre-approval of immigration eligibility to the adoptive family on behalf of the child that they desire to adopt.  This pre-approval has been referenced as the PAIR letter.  Starting September 1st, it is expected that the Ethiopian government’s Ministry of Women’s Children and Youth Affairs will require each adoptive family to have a PAIR letter prior to submitting a recommendation letter to the First Federal Instance Court . Please see below to get a comparative view between the current process and the soon to be implemented PAIR process.

Current Process

PAIR process
Family accepts referral

Family accepts referral
In-country staff obtains referral agreement between the agency and orphanage

-In-country staff obtains referral agreement between the agency and orphanage.

-Family submits the I-600 form and supporting documentation (including but not limited to the referral agreement, translated and Amharic documentation on child’s background history and clearances, and family’s documentation) to the National Benefits Center (NBC) lockbox in the United States. 

-NBC will examine all the documentation and either issue a Request for Evidence (RFE) or move forward with the Embassy’s portion of the approval process. 4-6 weeks expected timeline for completion.

-Once the initial NBC review is complete, the US Embassy will complete the I-604 investigation of orphan status (may include birth relative or finder interview at the US Embassy in Addis if applicable). They gave a 4-6 week expected timeline for completion.

-Once the I-604 investigation is successfully completed, the PAIR determination will be completed and approval letter will be issued.
In-country staff submits family's case/match to court, which includes submitting the family and child's documentation in addition to the matching agreement

In-country staff submits family's case/match to court with the PAIR approval letter
6-12 weeks after court submission, the initial MOWCYA/birth parent court date takes place

No Changes
At this court date, MOWCYA aims to complete a favorable or non-favorable letter regarding the match.  This letter is then sent to the Federal First Instance Court.

No Changes 
Once the MOWCYA/Birth parent court date has taken place and a favorable MOWCYA recommendation letter has been submitted to court, the court subpoenas the adoptive family to court.

No Changes
Trip 1: The adoptive family court date is typically 2-4 weeks after the initial MOWCYA/birth parent court date. 

No Changes 
The family fills out and submits the I-600 form to the US Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia during their court trip.

The I-600 has already been completed and will not be filled out by the family while in Ethiopia.
-In-country staff obtains post-court paperwork (court decree, new birth certificate, and passport) for the child.  Additionally, the child's Embassy medical exam is completed.  This process typically takes 3-4 weeks to complete.

-This information is all submitted to the US Embassy. The Embassy completes an I-604 investigation of orphan status . This process takes days – 3 weeks to complete

-In-country staff obtains post-court paperwork (court decree, new birth certificate, and passport) for the child.  Additionally, the child's Embassy medical exam is completed.  This process typically takes 3-4 weeks to complete.

-This information is all submitted to the US Embassy. The Embassy completes a final review of the case to ensure post-court paperwork matches documentation submitted with family’s I600 application. We are hopeful this process will just take a few days.
Trip 2: Once the US Embassy reviews and approves the I-600 application and finishes the I604 Investigation, the family can travel back to Ethiopia to obtain a US Visa for their child. Current families are travelling back for their 2nd trip close to 4-7 weeks after they pass court.

Trip 2: Once the US Embassy completes their final review, the family can travel back to Ethiopia to obtain a US Visa for their child. The timeline for travelling back for the second trip may be a bit shorter, closer to 3-6 weeks.

FAQs:
  • Will timeframes lengthen due to this change?
·        Yes, based on what USCIS has noted, it looks like there will be at least an additional 2-4 months between referral and the initial court date.  There may be a decrease in the amount of time between passing court and the 2nd trip by a week or two.  Current and future timeframes:
·   Current: 8-14 weeks between Referral Acceptance and travelling for court::  under PAIR the timeframes will likely be 16-26 weeks
·   Current: 4-6 months between Referral Acceptance and coming home:: under PAIR the timeframes will likely be 8-10 months.
·        Unfortunately, this could likely elongate the time between dossier submission and referral depending on the amount of extra time we are holding children in our Transition Home between referral and adoption finalization.  If the Transition Home is full, we will not be able to bring new children in.
  • Will the PAIR letter need to be authenticated?
·        We are not sure yet whether or not MOWCYA and the Ethiopian courts will require this letter to be authenticated/certified.  It is likely thought that authentication of this letter will be needed.
  • Will this turn the process into a one-trip process?
·        At this time, we do not feel this will allow for a one-trip process due to the timeframe between court approval and visa approval still taking roughly 3 to 5 weeks.  Because the US Embassy wants to do a second review after a family passes court, and as the post court paperwork will still take a few weeks to complete, the second trip will not be easily condensed into one trip as we hoped.
  • Is the I600 different than the I600A?
·        Yes, these are two different forms.  The I-600A is filled out during the paper chasing stage of the adoption process and is not associated with this change.  This new PAIR processing affects the I-600 process which is typically submitted while the family is in Ethiopia for their first trip.  However, now it will be completed in the United States at the time of referral.
  • Will this cause fee increases?
·        America World will continue to doe as much as possible to keep fees low for families while also providing the services needed for children and families.  Depending on how much additional time children need to stay in the Transition Home due to the new PAIR review, this could cause a need for the international program fee to increase. 

Again, we do not know many more details about what this will look like but wanted to share what USCIS noted on the call with you.  This will go into effect starting September 1st; therefore families not submitted to court prior to September 1st will be under the new PAIR process. Please note, each year we see the Ethiopian courts close for close to two months during the end of summer/early fall.  We suspect they will likely close August 6th through early October of this year; however the dates have not yet been made official.

2 comments:

Leah Hargrave said...

Thank you for the chart you made! We had been made aware of the changes through our agency (Buckner) but your chart makes everything easier to understand. We are waiting for our first court date (the birth parent court date has already happened). We are excited about adopting our 5 year old son Daniel!

Lisa said...

Thank you for this post, Cristie. I recently heard from our agency about this, but wanted more info. I googled it and your post came up. Also, thank you for your posts about the hard stuff of adoption and attachment. We have only been waiting for 7 months, but with the timelines getting longer and longer for Ethiopia, I easily become frustrated. Your insight was so timely and helpful as I see how God may be using a L.O.N.G. wait to prepare our hearts and the hearts of our daughters (7 and 3) for their new sibling.

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