Friday, December 9, 2011

USCIS Update on Cases Receiving a “Not Clearly Approvable” Notice

Today USCIS hosted a conference call on the current status of cases identified as “Not Clearly Approvable” by the US Embassy in Addis. Hopefully many of you were able to join the call, but for those who weren’t able to join the call, here is a summary:

In October of this year, a total of 65 cases were originally given the “Not Clearly Approvable Status” by the US Embassy in Addis Ababa, and were adjudicated to the USCIS field office in Nairobi, Kenya. The Nairobi team traveled to Addis to investigate, and found:

Of the 65 Cases:

-49 were cleared and returned to the US Embassy in Addis. Of these, 46 of them have received their Visas, the other three have embassy appointments scheduled.

-15 cases were adjudicated to a USCIS field office in Nairobi or Rome. These were given Request for Evidence (RFE).

-One case received a Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID).

Note from IAN: IAN families accounted for only one of the 65 cases, that family is now included in the 46 home with their child!

Among the points noted:

-The cases were a mixture of relinquished and abandoned cases, and included children of all ages from various regions, orphanages, and agencies.

-The most useful tool in clearing these cases was interviews with birth family members.

-Half of the 65 cases required more information than was originally submitted in order for “the totality of evidence to meet the burden of proof.”

-Less than 10% of the total cases submitted to the embassy have been identified as “not clearly approvable.”

Where we go from here:

-When cases are adjudicated to Nairobi (or Rome), USCIS has promised that the cases’ transfer will be expedited, and communication will be transparent and timely.

-Training for Adoption Service Providers will continue, both in Ethiopia and the US.

-All Adoption Service Providers will need to continue to work to improve the quality of casework. Prospective Adoptive Parents are encouraged to work closely with their Adoption Service Provider in assuring all paperwork is complete before embassy submission.

Note from IAN:IAN has already put into place procedures to assure the standard USCIS is requesting. We are in the process of putting procedures in place for parents who wish to request a copy of their paperwork before it is submitted to embassy.  Please ask your coordinator for more information on this.

USCIS is working to implement a “Pre-Processing Pilot Program” to provide better service to adoptive parents. This would allow US Embassy officials to review cases before they are finalized in Ethiopian court to ensure the orphan status criteria is being met by all cases.

IAN is excited to see this program get off the ground, as it will allow parents additional peace of mind and simplify the embassy process!

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