I get lots of questions about home studies- here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions:
Everyone knows what a home study – a review of your home, family life, personal background by a licensed social worker. You must submit an approved home study to USCIS if you wish to emigrate a child to the United States.
Who needs to prepare the home study?
A home study can be prepared by any social worker or agency licensed in your state. If you reside abroad, then the person who prepares the home study may be licensed in any state. The home study may also be done by a social worker or agency licensed or otherwise authorized by the foreign country to conduct home studies under the laws of the foreign country.
I live overseas, do I still need a home study?
Should I use a private social worker or a social worker at an adoption agency?
It’s totally up to you. Both are acceptable to USCIS as long as they are licensed by the state where the orphan will live. If you decide to go with a private social worker, you will probably receive more personal attention but remember that if you use a private social worker who is not employed by an agency, you may be required to submit an additional certification issued by a family court or other additional documentation.
Do I have to submit the home study with the I-600A?
No, you can submit the I-600A without the home study but it will not be adjudicated unless and until you submit a home study. The home study must be submitted within one year of the filing of the I-600A or the I-600A will be denied.
Do I have to submit an original or a copy to USCIS?
You have to submit an original.
Can I send USCIS an old home study?
The home study cannot be more than 6 months old at the time it is submitted to USCIS.
When does my home study expire?
If you have already submitted it to USCIS, then it does not expire but you do have to get an amendment if there has been a significant change of circumstances while your application is pending with USCIS. Please note that I-600A approvals do expire!
Can I do a home study over the phone?
No, there has to be at least one in person visit with the social worker.
I make no money and have a criminal history- will my home study be approved?
USCIS generally defers to the social worker who conducts the home study to determine if the adoptive parents are suitable people to adopt a child. If the social worker believes you can support a child financially, USCIS generally accepts that and will not require you to prove it by submitting a financial report (but they can). Remember you may need a co-sponsor for your I-864 at the consular stage of the process.
You have to make a full disclosure to your social worker of any criminal history and should submit dispositions for any and all arrests and convictions to USCIS. If you fail to disclose an arrest or conviction to your social worker, USCIS can use this as a basis to deny your petition. I’ve had clients that made silly mistakes in the past and ended up with minor criminal histories that were approved to adopt children.