International Adoptions Continue During Pandemic, But Parole Not a Likely Way to Bring Children in Early

USCIS announces that while adoptions from abroad can continue, it will only grant early entry to the child via "parole" in rare cases.

** LEGAL UPDATE **

U.S. citizens seeking to adopt children from overseas are facing the same difficulties as all would-be immigrants during the coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic. With many U.S. consulates around the world closed or offering only limited services other than emergencies, travel from certain countries restricted, and delays affecting every government action or decision, bringing a child to the United States within a reasonable amount of time can be impossible.

In the life of a child, however, every week is significant. Worried parents have been asking whether a procedural mechanism called humanitarian parole could be utilized to let adoptive children enter the United States even before visa processing is complete.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) can grant this form of discretionary relief to people unable to obtain a visa whose entry to the U.S. is justified by urgent humanitarian reasons, or if there would be a significant public benefit resulting from their entry to the United States. It's a case-by-case decision.

In this situation, however, USCIS has recently cautioned that "we rarely approve parole requests for adoption-related cases because parole does not provide the same procedural safeguards for prospective adoptive children, prospective adoptive parents, and birth parents that exist in regular adoption-based immigration avenues, such as determinations that a child is an orphan or available for intercountry adoption."

In other words, part of the routine decision-making in an international adoption case involves making sure that nothing fishy is going on; that the child hasn't been kidnapped or sold, for example. This would all be circumvented if the child were let into the U.S. without final visa processing.

Also, USCIS points out that parole is only a stop-gap measure. Not only would the parents still have to apply for the child to become a lawful permanent resident (LPR) after the child is in the U.S., but the child would not automatically acquire U.S. citizenship upon U.S. entry as other children adopted internationally do. Their citizenship would not take effect until the formal adoption and grant of LPR status are complete.

More information is available at uscis.gov/adoption and uscis.gov/coronavirus.

Effective Date: June 16, 2020