Guatemala: 2005

November 8, 2005

IMPORTANT MESSAGE from US Citizenship and Immigration Services

Joint Council is aware that families adopting from Guatemala have recently experienced increased delays while waiting to receive their pre-approval from Citizenship and Immigration Services. Today we spoke at length with CIS regarding these concerns.

At this time CIS has confirmed that families will need to anticipate increased wait-time for pre-approvals during the holiday season.

While in the past, this was estimated to be 30 days, the current average wait is 45 days for pre-approval. This is an increase of approximately 2 weeks per family.

It is not unusual for CIS to receive an increased number of dossiers before the holidays. However, over the past week, the volume of cases has been even higher than in previous years. CIS has taken measures to make the processing of dossiers as efficient as possible during this time. They recently increased CIS staff in Guatemala and have placed 3 additional people there to help throughout the holiday season.

Over the past several days, CIS has received hundreds of emails from waiting families and agencies. The staff members at CIS who respond to these inquiries are the same who are trying to adjudicate pending adoption cases. As long as CIS is working to respond to a high volume of emails, wait times cannot decrease. If families have waited 45 days or less to receive pre-approval, there is no cause for concern and no need to contact the CIS office.

Please be aware that some cases may require investigation and could easily take longer than 45 days. While this is not the norm, families will not necessarily be notified if their case is under investigation.

If you have waited for pre-approval for longer than 45 days and would like to inquire about your case, please send your name, your child’s name, your child’s birthdate and other relevant case information directly to our office. We will collect and send this information to CIS in order to facilitate the process by which they verify the status of pending cases.

Your patience will help ensure that CIS can work more efficiently and that waiting children in Guatemala can be placed with their families as quickly as possible.

October 24, 2005

Joint Council has sent a letter to the Ambassador of Guatemala, H.E. Guillermo Castillo regarding the legislation currently before the Guatemalan Congress. “Joint Council understands that the law has been read twice and the third reading is scheduled for the end of the month. We are concerned about the lack of sufficient funding required to successfully support such proposed reforms; the tens of thousands of children currently in private care and how this bill will impact their future care; the lack of clarity of who can adopt; and the sensationalist claims in the legislation that equates international adoption to child trafficking.”

September 19, 2005

The U.S. Department of State released the following notice:

Guatemala- Visa Appointments Required in Guatemala

The U.S. Embassy in Guatemala announces a change in the granting of immigrant visa interviews to adopted children. Beginning with final approvals received from DHS the week of September 26, 2005, the U.S. Embassy will schedule specific immigrant visa appointment dates and times for all adoption cases. The U.S. Embassy will continue to issue “pink slips.” Those “pink slips” will indicate the specific date and time of your child’s immigrant visa appointment, which will likely be during the week following the granting of DHS final approval. Please note that the “pink slip” will also contain specific instructions for requesting a different immigrant visa interview appointment, if you are not able to make the one we schedule for you. Please do not contact the U.S. Embassy prior to the issuance of the “pink slip” requesting specific appointment dates. In addition to indicating the appointment date and time for the immigrant visa interview, the “pink slip” will also specify the date and time that the immigrant visa, if approved, will be available for pick-up.

As always, adoptive parents are urged not to travel to Guatemala until the “pink slip” has been issued, and until they have confirmed the date and time of their child’s immigrant visa interview.

The U.S. Embassy is confident that scheduling specific immigrant visa appointments will assist in maintaining a transparent and efficient processing of adoption immigrant visa cases, as well as providing predictability for the adopting parents and minimizing waiting time at the U.S. Embassy.

July 11, 2005

The US Department of State released the following notice regarding adoptions in Guatemala.

The U.S. Embassy in Guatemala announces a change in the timing of delivery of issued immigrant visas to adopted children and all other immigrant visas. Due to new biometric security enhancements, all immigrant visas including those for adopted children will be available for issuance at 3:30 pm the next workday following the immigrant visa interview. The U.S. Embassy in Guatemala regrets that that it is no longer able to offer same day immigrant visa issuance. The U.S. Embassy in Guatemala remains committed to providing accurate, timely, and transparent service to U.S. Citizens adopting Guatemalan children.

May 12, 2005

The US Department of State released the following notice regarding adoptions in Guatemala.

The Government of Guatemala and the U.S. Embassy continue to process adoption cases in accordance with current applicable law. The Embassy continues to monitor the status of proposed adoption legislation in Guatemala. The U.S. Government firmly believes that international adoption is in the best interests of children who cannot find permanent family placements in their home countries. We will continue to encourage reform that protects the interests of the children, birth parents and adoptive parents without penalizing the many parents and children already in the process.

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