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International Adoption - Jamaica

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DISCLAIMER: 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.

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.

GENERAL: The following is a guide for U.S. citizens who are interested in adopting a child in Jamaica and applying there for an immigrant visa for the child to come to the United States. This process involves complex Jamaican and U.S. legal requirements. U.S. consular officers give each application careful consideration on a case-by-case basis to ensure that the legal requirements of both countries have been met, for the protection of the prospective adoptive parent(s), the biological parents(s) and the child. Interested U.S. citizens are encouraged to contact U.S. consular officials in Kingston, Jamaica before formalizing an adoption agreement to ensure that appropriate procedures have been followed which will make it possible for the Embassy (Consulate) to issue a U.S. immigrant visa for the child.

AVAILABILITY OF CHILDREN FOR ADOPTION: Recent U.S. immigrant visa statistics reflect the following pattern for visa issuance to orphans:

FY-1996: IR-3 immigrant visas issued to Jamaican orphans adopted abroad - 7
IR-4 immigrant visas issued to Jamaican orphans to be adopted in the U.S. - 31
FY-1997: IR-3 Visas - 5, IR-4 Visas - 25
FY-1998: IR-3 Visas - 5, IR-4 Visas - 31
FY-1999: IR-3 Visas - 9, IR-4 Visas - 39
FY-2000: IR-3 Visas - 9, IR-4 Visas - 24

JAMAICAN ADOPTION AUTHORITY: The government office responsible for adoptions in Jamaica is the Jamaican Adoption Board.

JAMAICAN ADOPTION PROCEDURES: All applications for adoptions of Jamaican children must be made to:

Adoption Board
2 King Street
Kingston, Jamaica
Tel: 876-967-1100
Fax. 876-924-9401)

Prospective parents must submit a completed application form, a personal interview and a medical examination. Once a prospective adoptive child has been identified, a pre-adoption placement will be done for a minimum of three months before an application for an Adoption Order can be made to the Family Court.

AGE AND CIVIL STATUS REQUIREMENTS: If married, the petitioners (one of who must be a U.S. citizen) may be of any age. If unmarried, the petitioner must be a U.S. citizen who is at least 24 years old when filing the INS Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan visa (Form I-600A) and at least 25 years old when filing the Form I-600 Petition to Classify an Orphan as an Immediate Relative.

DOCTORS: The U.S. Embassy (Consulate) maintains current lists of doctors and sources for medicines, should either you or your child experience health problems while in Jamaica.

JAMAICAN DOCUMENTARY REQUIREMENTS:
· Adoption License (for children going to the U.S. for adoption)- This license allows someone living in the United States to adopt a Jamaican child. For the license to be issued, the Jamaican Family Court must be satisfied that:

A) The overseas adopter is suitable, in keeping with the requirements of the Adoption Board;

B) Sending the child abroad would be in his/her best interest;

C) The consent of the child's parent(s) or guardian(s), or any person, who has custody of the child, has been given.

· Adoption Order (for children being adopted in Jamaica by U.S. citizens)- This is a document issued by the Family Court authorizing the adoption of a Jamaican child. The Order is issued when the Adoption Board is satisfied that the pre-adoption placement has gone well and that it is in the best interest of the child to be adopted by the petitioner.

*Note: To obtain a list of documentary requirements, contact the Adoption Board*:

Adoption Board
2 King Street
Kingston, Jamaica
Tel: 876-967-1100
Fax. 876-924-9401)

AUTHENTICATION PROCESS: All documents above must be authenticated. Generally, U.S. civil records, such as birth, death, and marriage certificates must bear the seal of the issuing office. Then it must be authenticated by the state's Secretary of State in your state capital, then by the U.S. Department of State Authentication's office and then by the Jamaican Embassy or Consulate in the United States. Check with the Jamaica Consulate in the U.S. with jurisdiction over your state to see what seals and signatures the Consulate can authenticate. It may be possible to eliminate some of the steps if the Consulate has the seal of the local issuing authority on file.

Tax returns, medical reports and police clearances should likewise be authenticated, beginning with the seal of notary public in the United States or some appropriate issuing office. The county clerk where the notary is licensed or some similar authority should authenticate the notary's seal. The document should then be authenticated by the state Secretary of State; (in your state capital) the U.S. Department of State Authentication's Office, and the Jamaican Embassy or Consulate.

Advance Processing

· Approved Form I-600A (Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition),
· Fingerprints of each prospective adoptive parent on Form FD-258,
· Proof of the prospective petitioner's United States citizenship,
· Proof of the marriage of the prospective petitioner and spouse, if applicable,
· Proof of termination of any prior marriages of the prospective petitioner and spouse or
unmarried prospective petitioner, if applicable,
· A "home study" completed by the appropriate State organization with a favorable
recommendation
· Filing fee of U.S. $460.

Orphan Petition

· Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative,
· Proof of the orphan's age,
· Death certificate(s) of the orphan's parent(s), if applicable,
· Proof that the orphan's sole or surviving parent cannot give the orphan proper care and has, in writing, forever or irrevocably released the orphan for emigration and adoption, if the orphan only has one parent,
· A final decree of adoption, if the orphan has been adopted abroad,
· Proof that the orphan has been unconditionally abandoned to an orphanage, if the orphan is in an orphanage,
· Proof that the pre-adoption requirements, if any, of the state of the orphan's proposed residence have been met, if the orphan is to be adopted in the United States.

U.S. IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS

A Jamaican child 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 16 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 in the United States. Upon approval of the I-130 petition, the parents may apply for an immigrant visa for the child at the U.S. Embassy in Kingston. American citizens who believe this category may apply to their adopted child should contact the U.S. Embassy in Kingston for more information.

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 consider 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 Kingston .

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 Jamaica should request, at the time they file these forms, that INS notify the U.S. Embassy in Kingston 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.

VISA INFORMATION & WHAT TO EXPECT INFORMATION:

· Form I-600 petition must have been filed before the child's sixteenth birthday; (the final adoption does not have to be completed before the child's 16th birthday but there has to be some legal custodial relationship established before the 16th birthday, which allows the child's emigration to the U.S. and his or her eventual adoption); or is the natural sibling of such child who was adopted by the same parents while under the age of 18;
· The child must meet the definition of an orphan:
-The child has no parents because of the death or disappearance of, abandonment or desertion by, or separation from or loss of both parents; or
- The sole or surviving parent is incapable of providing proper care and has, in writing, irrevocably released the child for emigration and adoption.

JAMAICAN EMBASSY (and Consulates) IN THE UNITED STATES:
Embassy of Jamaica
1520 New Hampshire Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20036
Tel.: 202-452-0660

Jamaica also has Consulates in: Atlanta, GA; Boston, MA; Chicago, IL; Dallas, TX; Houston, TX; Los Angeles, CA; San Francisco, CA; Miami, FL; New York, NY; Richmond, VA, and Seattle, WA.

U.S. EMBASSY IN JAMAICA:
Street Address
U.S. Embassy Jamaica
16 Oxford Road
Kingston 5
Jamaica, West Indies
Tel: 876-929-4850
Fax: 876-935-6019

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 541
Kingston
Jamaica

ADDITIONAL 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 Jamaica may be addressed to the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica. You may also contact the Office of Children's Issues (CA/OCS/CI), 2201 C Street, N.W., SA-22, Room 2100, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, 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.
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