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Lifeline is committed to provide timely and accurate information to all of our families in regard to the current situation in Uganda. We have had direct contact with the US Embassy in Uganda and here is what we have learned (anything you may hear beyond what is communicated below is rumor and not based in fact. It is very important that our families know exactly what has happened and what steps are being taken to address the current situation).
On Wednesday, February 3rd, Ms. Sahar Hussain, Vice Consul at the U.S. Embassy Kampala met with Ugandan government officials to discuss adoption in Uganda. During the meeting, Vice Consul was informed that legal guardianship orders issued by the High Court of Uganda are issued with the understanding that American citizens will not adopt the Ugandan children in the U.S. and that the Ugandan children will not change their citizenship.
Part of IR-4 visa eligibility requires that the prospective adoptive parents (PAPs) obtain custody of the child for the purposes of emigration and adoption abroad. While guardianship orders need not contain specific language stating that the guardianship is granted with the court’s understanding that the guardians may depart Uganda with the child in order to complete a full and final adoption abroad, it must at a minimum allow the PAPs to fix the abode of the child. Guardianship orders that merely indicate that the guardians are permitted to travel outside of Uganda with the child and do not permit them to fix the abode of the child would not meet the requirements of U.S. immigration law. We do not have a visa category that would allow PAPs to foster a child in the U.S.
The US Embassy in Uganda is currently working on obtaining official language from the government of Uganda that states explicitly what the legal guardianship order allows. Until that time, petitions filed at the US Embassy with a legal guardianship order will be sent to USCIS as not clearly approvable. This significantly delays the visa process. The US Embassy is suggesting that PAPs wait until their office has received this official correspondence from the government of Uganda before making any travel plans or beginning the court process with a Ugandan attorney. The US Embassy in Uganda is sending diplomatic notes to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Justice on Constitutional Affairs to request a clear definition of what the legal guardianship order states.
The US Embassy gave us the following three options for PAP’s:
(1) Request that the PAPs attorney ask the judge to put language in the adoption order that says the PAP will be allowed to travel to the U.S. to adopt the Uganda child and that that child may change citizenship, or at the minimum state that the PAP may “fix the abode” of the child. This would allow the Embassy to process IR4 immigrant visas which may require clarification from the Government of Uganda (GoU) regarding the effect of the guardianship order. GoU may well tell the US Embassy that the guardianship order does not permit emigration and adoption abroad and therefore the child will not be eligible for an IR4.
(2) IR3 which would require the PAP to seek and obtain a full and final adoption. This will require that the PAP coordinate with local attorneys regarding Ugandan law.
(3) File the petition with the US Embassy as per usual. They will consider it “not clearly approvable” and forward it to USCIS in Nairobi. This will delay the process and there is no guarantee that USCIS will return with a favorable response.
It may be likely that all U.S. PAPs may have to obtain a full and final adoption in Uganda in order to obtain an immigrant IR-4 visa. When our Embassy has more information from the Government of Uganda, we will be sure to inform PAPs.
Lifeline families need to know that we are working behind the scene, here and in Uganda, to aid both governments in the process as well as keeping families informed about what is transpiring. Our attorney remains confident that things will work out for Lifeline families because of what he is hearing from the Ugandan Courts.
For all Lifeline adoptions our attorney has always added the verbiage in the original affidavit that the intent of the American family is to take the child to the US, finalize adoption, and apply for US citizenship.Perhaps other attorneys have not taken this step in filing their petitions which would understandably cause concern on the part of the US Embassy.
Be assured that as new information arises we will keep you informed.
Adoption is a faith journey and we believe God not only desires to transform a child through this process, but you as well. We encourage all of our families to commit this process to the Lord in continual prayer. Lifeline also desires to stress the importance of timely and accurate information. If you are hearing reports counter to what we are communicating to you they are false. Lifeline families may contact me if you have additional questions. You are continually in our thoughts and prayers!
Lifeline Children’s Services