DOS Notice: New Location for Consulate General Guangzhou

12. June, 2013UncategorizedNo comments

The U.S. Consulate General in Guangzhou, which processes all U.S. immigrant visas in China, will be moving to the Zhujiang New Town area of Guangzhou.  This spacious and modern facility will house consular services for visa applicants and for U.S. citizens.  The Consulate General will suspend operations on or about July 15, and will resume adoption-related visa services by appointment on July 24.

In order to complete timely processing of current cases and to ensure that services continue smoothly, the Consulate General’s Adopted Children’s Immigrant Visa Unit (ACIVU) will maintain the following schedule of services:

  • July 5—Last day for Letter Seeking Confirmation submissions until resumption of services.  All LSCs submitted by this date will be returned on July 12.
  • July 11—Last day for adopted children’s immigrant visa interviews until resumption of services.
  • July 12—Last day to pick up issued visas, Article 5 packets, and other processed documents until resumption of services.
  • July 24—Adoption-related visa services resume at new facility.

Families and Adoption Service Providers are advised to incorporate this schedule into their planning for submitting documents, scheduling visa interviews, and determining travel dates.

For updates, please check the U.S. Consulate Guangzhou web siteor  You may also contact the ACIVU staff if you have any questions.


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PAIR Process for Ethiopia Adoptions

10. June, 2013UncategorizedNo comments

June 10, 2013

Dear Ethiopia Adoptive Families,

As you have been made aware, some changes are occurring within the Ethiopia Adoption process. We want to make sure you understand these changes and are informed properly. Effective September 1st, 2013 Ethiopia adoption cases must be submitted to the Ethiopian Federal First Instance Court (FFIC) & MOWCYA accompanied by (an authenticated) PAIR letter issued by USCIS. PAIR (Pre-Adoption Immigration Review) will be required in order for MOWCYA to make a best interest determination on your child’s case, and ultimately finalize the adoption in Ethiopia.

The important thing for you to understand is this process is the same as the current process all cases go through, just in a different order. Currently cases are submitted to the FFIC for approval and to finalize the adoption per Ethiopian Law. Your I-600 Application (Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative) is then submitted to the US Embassy to complete the US immigration approval portion of your child’s adoption for immigration clearance and visa issuance. MOWCYA will now require that cases go through a PAIR process before they will review and approve your case in order to ensure your child will be found eligible for immigration to the US. This means after you are matched we will now submit your I-600 (Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative) to USCIS prior to filing with the FFIC & MOWCYA for adoption finalization.

We have been made aware that USCIS expects the PAIR process to take between 8-12 weeks to complete and issue the PAIR letter. During that time cases will be reviewed by the National Benefits Center and USCIS will conduct the I-604 Orphan Investigation in order to determine immigration eligibility. Once eligibility is determined the PAIR letter will be issued and your case can be submitted to the FFIC and MOWCYA for best interest determination. 

Just like the current process, The FFIC will issue 2 court hearings. The 1st hearing is for the birth relatives to appear and provide consent, or in abandonment cases the orphanage. After the 1st hearing passes you will be issued the 2nd hearing date, for which you will travel to Ethiopia to give your consent and finalize the adoption. Shortly after the Adoption Decree is issued it will need to be certified by MOWCYA. After certification we can apply for your child’s birth certificate and passport.  Passports issuance takes between 4-6 weeks. 

Once the passport and birth certificate have been received we will submit the Adoption Decree, MOWCYA certification, birth certificate, passport and the medical and visa applications to the US Embassy for final review of your I-600 Application. The PAIR process will not guarantee the case will be automatically approved or that the visa will be issued immediately, but it will minimize concern that could arise and hopefully minimize the number of RFE’s and cases forwarded to USCIS Nairobi. We feel strongly this process will be beneficial for adoptive families and Ethiopia’s orphaned children.




West Sands Adoptions



DOS Notice: Implementation of Pre-Adoption Immigration Review (PAIR) Program in Ethiopia

5. June, 2013UncategorizedNo comments

Effective September 1, 2013, the Government of Ethiopia will require all adoption cases filed on behalf of U.S. prospective adoptive parents with the Ethiopian courts to undergo the U.S. PAIR process. The Ministry of Women, Children and Youth Affairs (MOWCYA) will require a PAIR letter issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as one of the criterion for its best interest determination. To comply, the adoption dossier submitted by prospective adoptive parents to the Federal First Instance Court (FFIC) to initiate the adoption, will need to include the PAIR letter issued by USCIS. The FFIC will then forward the dossier, including the PAIR letter, to MOWCYA for review. The new criterion will not affect pending adoption cases filed with Ethiopian courts before September 1, 2013.

To enable prospective parents adopting from Ethiopia to comply with Ethiopia’s new requirement, USCIS issued a policy memorandum, effective immediately, that allows prospective adoptive parents to begin the PAIR process and file a Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, before Ethiopian courts finalize an adoption in Ethiopia. These procedures allow 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. A copy of the policy memorandum is available on USCIS’ website.

To begin the PAIR process, petitioners adopting children from Ethiopia should file the Form I-600 petition and supporting documents through the appropriate lockbox for forwarding to the USCIS National Benefits Center (NBC) before filing an adoption case with the Ethiopian courts. Please refer to USCIS’ website for filing instructions for the NBC. USCIS overseas offices and the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia will continue to accept Form I-600 petitions, but such petitions will be forwarded to the NBC for PAIR review.

Prospective adoptive parents filing their Form I-600 petition should include all available required documentation when filing a Form I-600 petition, except the adoption decree or grant of legal custody. Additionally, the following PAIR-specific documentation must be submitted when the child’s country of origin is Ethiopia:

  • Evidence of the match between petitioner and child such as:
    • Adoption Contract between the Prospective Adoptive Parent (PAP) and the orphanage, together with a power of attorney appointing the Adoption Service Provider (ASP) to represent the PAP, in cases where the contract is signed by the ASP on behalf of the PAP; or
    • Adoption Contract between the PAP and relinquishing birth relative.
  • Evidence of child’s availability for intercountry adoption, such as:
    • Court order from Regional, Zonal, or Woreda authorities;
    • Police report from local authorities, placing the child in the care of a licensed orphanage; or
    • Adoption Contract between PAP and relinquishing birth relative, in cases of intra-family adoption only.

The FFIC will make its own determination regarding the child’s adoptability. After completing the adoption and receiving the adoption decree from the FFIC, U.S. adoptive parents will submit their adoption decree and all necessary documents to Embassy Addis Ababa for final Form I-600 petition review and immigrant visa processing.

You may refer to for additional information about adopting from Ethiopia.

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West Sands’ Guest House in Ethiopia

5. June, 2013UncategorizedNo comments

Dear Ethiopia Adoptive Families, 

It is our greatest priority to inform you of any changes that occur in this program.  This week we were notified that MOWYCA is now requiring West Sands Adoptions to obtain special licensing before we can continue to allow families to stay at our Transition Home/ Guest House.  At this time adoptive families will be staying at a nearby guest house while we work out the details of this new requirement.

Families traveling for their first trip will visit their children at the transition home, and are welcome to visit their child throughout the day.  Families traveling for their 2nd trip will be allowed to have their children stay with them at the Guest House, but will be limited as to where they are allowed to go with their children in the general public.  

We do not anticipate  an increase of expenses due to this change.  However; you will pay for your guest house stay and meals directly to the guest house that you will be staying at, (rather than to West Sands Adoptions).  We will forward the Guest House information as soon as we have it all compiled.  Nothing else will change according to our program in country.  Our staff will still pick you up at the airport, and take care of you each day.  

We feel it is best to keep all the children at the transition home, and allow them to continue their daily routines.  We do apologize for any disappointment this may cause.  

We appreciate your support as we work with MOWYCA to meet this new requirement.


West Sands Adoptions