International Adoption - Federated States of Micronesia (FSM)
The information in this circular relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign
countries is provided for general information only. Questions involving interpretation of specific foreign laws should be addressed to foreign legal counsel.PLEASE NOTE:
Under the Compact of Free Association between the United States and the Freely Associated States (FAS), citizens of the FAS (including the citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia) have the right to live, work, study and assume "habitual residence" in the United States with no visa requirement.
Prospective adoptive parents are advised to fully research any adoption agency or facilitator they plan to use for adoption services. For U.S. based agencies, it is suggested that prospective adoptive parents contact the Better Business Bureau and licensing office of the Department of Health and Family Services in the state where the agency is located.
It has come to the attention of the U.S S. Immigration and Naturalization
Service (INS) and the U.S Department of State that children from the FAS who have been adopted by U.S. citizens have been admitted to the United States as FAS nationals instead of as immigrants with required immigrant visas.
It should be stressed that the enforcement of this previously misinterpreted provision of the Compact in no way impacts the right of FAS citizens to continue "legitimate residence" in the United States. Nor does it affect the right of citizens of the FAS to bring their own FAS children into the United States. These rights are granted in the Compact and will continue to be honored by the United States. This issue concerns only those children of the FAS who are brought to the United States by U.S. citizen adoptive or prospective adoptive parents.
It should also be stressed that enforcing this immigrant visa requirement for the adopted children of U.S. citizens is in the best interests of FAS-born children and their birth parents. By requiring U.S. S citizen prospective adoptive parents to petition for an immigrant visa for their FAS-born adoptive child, an exhaustive background investigation, including criminal record checks and home study is made to determine the suitability of the prospective adoptive parents. This helps to ensure that the child is placed in a safe environment. Furthermore, the imposition of this immigrant visa requirement will ensure that only children who are orphans
or have been properly released by their birth parent (s) will be admitted for entry to the United States.
This should clarify the legal status of the child and help prevent any custody disputes that might arise between the child's birth parents and adoptive parents.
Immigrant visa forms may be obtained at the U.S. Embassy in Kolonia, Pohnpei, and FSM.AVAILABILITY OF CHILDREN FOR ADOPTION:
At the present, only FSM citizens are allowed to adopt children of FSM nationality. This provision is being questioned in a lawsuit.FSM ADOPTION AUTHORITY:
The government office responsible for adoptions in the Federated States of Micronesia is the Free Associated States (FAS).AGE AND CIVIL STATUS REQUIREMENTS:
Citizens of the FAS who are intending immigrants, are required to obtain an immigrant visa (IV) for permanent residence in the United States at the designated FAS immigrant visa processing post in Manila. In the case of the children, their entry to the United States is to take up permanent residence with their newly adoptive parents. Therefore, under the terms of the Compact, these children must be processed for immigrant visas in order to take up permanent residence in the United States. ADOPTION AGENCIES AND ATTORNEYS:
There are no adoption agencies in the FSM; however, the Embassy in Kolania has a listing of lawyers available to U.S. citizens.DOCTORS:
The U.S. Embassy maintains current lists of doctors and sources for medicines, should either you or your child experience health problems in the FSM.FSM DOCUMENTARY REQUIREMENTS:
There are no special documentary requirements.U.S. IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS
A Micronesian child, even if adopted by an American citizen, must obtain an immigrant visa before he or she can enter the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident. There are two distinct categories of immigrant visas available to children adopted by American citizens.
A Previously Adopted Child. Section 101(b)(1)(E) of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act defines an "adopted child" as one who was adopted under the age of 161 and who has already resided with, and in the legal custody of, the adoptive parent for at least two years. Parents who can demonstrate that their adopted child meets this requirement may file an I-130 petition with the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) having jurisdiction over their place of residence. Upon approval of the I-130 petition, the parents may apply for an immigrant visa for the child at the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Philippines. (The Embassy at Kolonia does not issue immigrant visas.) American citizens who believe this category may apply to their adopted child should contact the U.S. Embassy in Manila for more information.
A child adopted at age 16 or 17 will also qualify, provided he or she was adopted together with a natural sibling who was under age 16.
An Orphan. If an adopted child has not resided with the adoptive parent for two years (or if the child has not yet even been adopted) the child must qualify under section 101(b)(1)(F) of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act in order to apply for an immigrant visa. The main requirements of this section are as follows:
The adoptive or prospective adoptive parent
must be an American citizen;
The child must be under the age of 16 at the time an I-600 Petition is filed with the INS on his or her behalf;
If the adoptive or prospective adoptive parent is married, his or her spouse must also be a party to the adoption;
If the adoptive or prospective adoptive parent is single, he or she must be at least 25 years of age;
The child must be an orphan, as defined by U.S. regulations. Although the definition of an orphan found in many dictionaries is "A child whose parents are dead," U.S. immigration law and regulations provide for a somewhat broader definition. Children who do not qualify under this definition, however, may not immigrate to the U.S. as an orphan even if legally adopted by an American Citizen. The Department of State encourages Americans to determine if a particular child is an orphan according to U.S. immigration law and regulations before proceeding with an adoption. A detailed description of the orphan definition used by INS can be found on INS's web site at http://www.ins.usdoj.gov
. U.S. IMMIGRATION PROCEDURES FOR ORPHANS
I. The Petition.
Adoptive and prospective adoptive parents must obtain approval of a Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative (Form I-600) from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) before they can apply for an immigrant visa on behalf of an orphan. The adjudication of such petitions can be very time-consuming and parents are encouraged to begin the process well in advance.
A prospective adoptive parent may file Form I-600A Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) office having jurisdiction over their place of residence. This form allows the most time-consuming part of the process to be completed in advance, even before the parent has located a child to adopt. In addition, a parent who has an approved I-600A may file an I-600 in person at the U.S. Embassy in Manila.2
If a married couple is adopting the child and only one of the parents will travel to Micronesia, that parent must be an American citizen. And remember both parents must still sign the original I-600.
Detailed information about filing these forms can be found on INS's web site at http://www.ins.usdoj.gov
. Americans who have adopted or hope to adopt a child from Micronesia should request, at the time they file these forms, that INS notify the US Embassy in Manila as soon as the form is approved. Upon receipt of such notification, the Embassy will contact the parents and provide additional instructions on the immigration process. U.S. consular officers may not begin processing an orphan adoption case until they have received formal notification of approval from an INS office in the US.II. The Orphan Investigation
One part of the petition process that INS cannot complete in advance is the "orphan investigation". An orphan investigation Form I-604 Report on Overseas Orphan Investigation) is required in all orphan adoption cases - even if an I-600 has already been approved - and serves to verify that the child is an orphan as defined by US immigration law. A consular officer performs this investigation at the time of the child's immigrant visa interview. FSM EMBASSY AND CONSULATES IN THE UNITED STATES:
Embassy of the Federated States of Micronesia
1725 N Street NW
Washington, DC 20036
Tel. No 202-223-4383
FSM has consulates in the following cities: Guam, Tamuning, and Honolulu, Hawaii. U.S. EMBASSY IN THE FSM:
P.O. Box 1286
Kolonia, Pohnpei FM 96941
Telephone (691) 320-2187
Fax (691) 320-2186
E-mail: USEmbassy@mail.fmADDITIONAL INFORMATION:
Prospective adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to consult INS publication M-249, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adoptive Children, as well as the Department of State publication, International Adoptions.QUESTIONS:
Specific questions regarding adoption in the FSM may be addressed to the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy. You may also contact the Office of Children's Issues, U.S. Department of State, 2401 E Street NW, SA-1, Room L-127, Washington, DC 20522, Tel: (202) 736-7000 with specific questions. Information is also available 24 hours a day from several sources.Telephone
Office of Children's Issues - recorded information regarding changes in adoption procedures and general information, (202) 736-7000.
State Department Visa Office - recorded information concerning immigrant visas for adoptive children, (202) 663-1225.
Immigration and Naturalization Service - recorded information for requesting immigrant visa application forms, 1-800-870-FORM (3676).Automated Fax
Contains the full text of the office's international adoption information flyers and general information brochure, International Adoptions. From the telephone on your fax machine, call (202) 647-3000.Internet
The Consular Affairs web site at http://travel.state.gov
contains international adoption information flyers and the International Adoptions brochure.
INS web site- http://www.ins.usdoj.gov Other Information
Consular Information Sheets
- Published by the State Department and available for every country in the world, providing information such as the location of the U.S. Embassy, health conditions, political situations, and crime reports. The information is available 24 hours a day by calling the State Department's Office of Overseas Citizens Services at (202) 647-5225. The recordings are updated as new information becomes available, and are also accessible through the automated fax machine and the Internet web site, as above.
© June 2001