Submitting an adoption case to the U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia
Currently, an adoption case can only be submitted after the case has passed court and a decree has been issued. For information on the process before and during the Ethiopian court phase, please visit adoption.state.gov Each adoption agency is assigned a specific day of the week and time to submit completed cases on behalf of U.S. adoptive parents to the Embassy. The adoption agency may submit an unlimited number of completed case files at that time. The two intake time slots are 9:00am to 12:00pm and 1:00pm until 4:00pm. If there are obvious errors in the documents, documents missing from the screening checklist or if the agency arrives late then the case will not be accepted. The agency will be informed of what needs to be corrected. If the agency presents an incomplete case file then they will have to wait until the following week to resubmit the file. Adoptive parents in private adoption cases may bring their case documents on any day of the week during our intake hours. Please note that private adoptions require the same processing time as agency-facilitated adoptions, including an I-604 investigation (described below).
We urge all adoptive parents to request a copy of these documents from their adoption agency, and to carefully review them for completeness and accuracy. Incorrect translations and errors in dates often indicate other underlying problems.
Once a case is submitted to the Embassy please allow five business days for the case to be screened. The adoptive parent will be notified once the screening of their child’s case is complete.
In all cases, consular officers must complete an I-604, Determination on Child for Adoption, certifying that the adopted child meets the definition of “orphan” under U.S. law The consular officer must review the evidence submitted by the adoptive parent or adoption agency documenting the child’s orphan status.
In most cases the consular officer will request, for example, a birth relative interview, the phone number for a police officer, an interview with someone who discovered a foundling, corrections to documents, or other evidence in support of the case. It is normal for a consular officer to ask for this information or these interviews as part of the I-604 process.
There is no set time line for completion of the I-604 process. Families should expect it to take anywhere from several days to several months, depending on the quality of case and evidence submitted by the adoption agency.
Consular officers have limited, delegated authority from U.S. CIS to approve Form I-600 petitions that are found to be clearly approvable. Clearly approvable means that the petition and supporting documentation clearly establish that the child is an orphan as defined by U.S. immigration law; all criteria identified on the Form I-600A approval regarding the child and any state pre-adoption requirements are met; and there are no concerns of fraud, child buying or other inappropriate practices in the adoption process.
In cases where the evidence is insufficient to establish that the child is an orphan or that the I-600A criteria have been met, the consular officer will allow the petitioner to respond to issues and questions that can be quickly and easily resolved. If issues and questions can be quickly and easily resolved and the case is clearly approvable the consular officer will approve the petition.
If, after completing the I-604, the consular officer determines that a case is clearly approvable then the case will be scheduled for a visa interview at the family’s earliest convenience.
If the case is not clearly approvable then it will be forwarded by express mail to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration office in Nairobi, who has jurisdiction over I-600 petitions filed in Addis Ababa, for review and adjudication. Forwarding a case to Nairobi by express mail normally takes 5 business days.
Attention military families:
We have heard from several military families that they have had trouble enrolling their newly adopted children in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) and other military insurance programs because of questions about the authenticity of the children’s Ethiopian birth certificates. The U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa can authenticate any birth certificate that carries the seal of the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Your authenticated document will have an attached cover sheet bearing the seal of the Department of State and the signature of a consular officer, and should therefore be acceptable to any federal or state agency in the U.S. In order to expedite this service it is best for your agency to have the birth certificates authenticated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs prior to submitting the documents to the embassy. There is a $50 charge per document for the authentication service, payable in dollars or Ethiopian birr. If you pay for the service at the time of your visa interview the authenticated documents can often be prepared for pickup at the same time as your child’s visa.
For questions about this service please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.