Ethiopia Implements Pre-Adoption Immigration Review (PAIR) Requirement
Effective Sept. 1, 2013, the government of Ethiopia will require all adoption cases filed by United States prospective adoptive parents to undergo the U.S. PAIR process. Ethiopia’s Ministry of Women, Children and Youth Affairs (MOWCYA) will require a PAIR letter issued by USCIS in order to make a best interest determination. Prospective adoptive parents must include the PAIR letter in the adoption dossier they submit to the Ethiopian Federal First Instance Court (FFIC) to initiate the adoption. The FFIC will then forward the dossier, including the PAIR letter, to MOWCYA to review. The new PAIR letter requirement will not affect adoption cases filed with Ethiopian courts before Sept. 1, 2013.
Guidance for Prospective Adoptive Parents
To help prospective parents to comply with Ethiopia’s new requirement, USCIS issued a policy memorandum, effective immediately, which allows prospective adoptive parents to begin the PAIR process and file a Form-I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative. This process allows USCIS to assess the child’s likely eligibility for U.S. immigration benefits and make a preliminary determination before Ethiopian courts finalize the adoption decree.
After USCIS issues a preliminary determination of the child’s immigration eligibility (PAIR letter), prospective adoptive parents, through their Adoptive Service Providers, must include the PAIR letter when filing a case with the FFIC.
To begin the PAIR process , petitioners adopting children from Ethiopia should file the Form !-600 petition and supporting documents through the appropriate lockbox before filing an adopting case with the Ethiopian courts. Please see Filing Instructions for Form !-600 for a specific locations. USCIS overseas offices and the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, will continue to accept Form I-600 petitions. Petitions filed overseas will be forwarded to the USCIS National Benefits Center for PAIR review.