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< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly

[Federal Register: August 7, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 152)]
[Rules and Regulations]               
[Page 46925-46926]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr07au03-2]                         


[[Page 46925]]

=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY

8 CFR Part 204

[CIS No. 2288-03]
RIN 1615-AB07

 
Extension of Validity Period of Approved Form I-600A, Application 
for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition

AGENCY: Department of Homeland Security.

ACTION: Interim rule with request for comments.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: This rule amends the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) 
regulations governing the processing of applications and petitions 
relating to the immigration of alien orphans. The amendment to the rule 
establishes that the Director of the Bureau of Citizenship and 
Immigration Services (BCIS) may, at his or her discretion, extend the 
validity period for a decision approving an Application for Advanced 
Processing of Orphan Petition (Form I-600A), either in an individual 
case or for any case within a designated class of cases because of 
delays in completing the adoption process due to public health concerns 
relating to the incidence of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). 
On May 15, 2003 the China Center for Adoption Affairs (CCAA) of the 
Peoples Republic of China (PRC) suspended its processing of 
international adoptions because of the SARS outbreak. While this 
suspension was in force, the prospective adoptive parents were unable 
to complete the adoption process in the PRC. The CCAA lifted the 
suspension on June 24, 2003. This amendment will permit the BCIS to 
more readily accommodate prospective adoptive parents who have been 
unable to comply with the requirement to file a Petition to Classify 
Orphan as an Immediate Relative (Form I-600) within 18 months of the 
Form I-600A approval date.

DATES: Effective date: This interim rule is effective August 7, 2003.
    Comment date: Written comments must be submitted on or before 
October 6, 2003.

ADDRESSES: Please submit written comments to the Director, Regulations 
and Forms Services Division, Department of Homeland Security, 425 I 
Street NW., Room 4034, Washington, DC 20536. To ensure proper handling, 
please reference CIS No. 2288-03 on your correspondence. The public may 
also submit comments electronically to the DHS at rfs.regs@dhs.gov. 
When submitting comments electronically you must include CIS No. 2288-
03 in the subject box. Comments are available for public inspection at 
the above address by calling (202) 514-3291 to arrange for an 
appointment.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Stephen Heller, Adjudications Officer, 
Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, 425 I Street NW., Room 
3040, Washington, DC 20536, telephone (202) 514-4754.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    The first step for many United States citizens who decide to adopt 
a child from abroad is to file an Application for Advanced Processing 
of Orphan Petition (Form I-600A) with the Bureau of Citizenship and 
Immigration Services (BCIS). In support of this Form I-600A, the 
prospective adoptive parents (applicants) must submit, among other 
documents, a home study prepared by a party licensed or otherwise 
authorized under the law of the State of the orphan's proposed 
residence. The home study is a process for screening and preparing 
applicants who are interested in adopting an orphan from another 
country. The applicants, and all adult members of the applicants' 
household, must also be fingerprinted by BCIS after receipt of a 
properly filed Form I-600A (8 CFR 204.3(c)(3)). Fingerprint clearances 
from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are considered to be 
valid for a period of 15 months.
    If BCIS is satisfied that the applicants will provide proper care 
for an orphan, BCIS approves the Form I-600A. The approved Form I-600A 
is valid for 18 months from its approval date (8 CFR 204.3(h)(3)). 
During this 18-month validity period, the applicants must identify an 
orphan that they wish to adopt and file a Petition to Classify Orphan 
as an Immediate Relative (Form I-600). If the applicants fail to file a 
Form I-600 during the 18-month validity period, the approved Form I-
600A is deemed abandoned (8 CFR 204.3(h)(7)) and any Form I-600 that is 
then filed shall be denied (8 CFR 204.3(h)(13)).

What This Rule Accomplishes

    This rule provides in new 8 CFR 204.3(h)(3)(ii) that the BCIS 
Director, or a designated officer, may, at his or her discretion, 
extend the validity period for a Form I-600A approval, either in an 
individual case or for a group of similarly situated individual cases 
where prospective adoptive parents have been unable to comply with the 
requirement to file a Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate 
Relative (Form I-600) within 18 months of the Form I-600A approval date 
as a result of delays in the adoption process resulting from the SARS 
outbreak. This amendment will ensure that the BCIS is able to respond 
to this unusual or extraordinary situation that may have impeded the 
ability of prospective adoptive parents to comply with the requirement 
to file the Form I-600 by the expiration date of the Form I-600A. For 
example, in May 2003, the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) suspended its 
own processing of international adoption cases, due to public health 
concerns related to the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. 
During that suspension period, some prospective adoptive parents' I-
600A approvals expired. Under existing regulations, the BCIS was unable 
to extend the validity of those I-600As so that the prospective 
adoptive parents could complete the adoption process once the PRC 
lifted the suspension. New 8 CFR 204.3(h)(3)(ii) provides BCIS the 
ability to accommodate prospective adoptive parents with expired or 
soon to expire I-600. In making a decision to extend the validity 
period for a Form I-600A approval, the BCIS Director, or a designated 
officer, may set conditions for the extension that may include, but are 
not limited to: an explanation of the reasons necessitating an 
extension, the updating of the home study, renewal of fingerprints, and 
any other factor relevant to initial approval of a Form I-600A.

Good Cause Exception

    This interim rule is effective August 7, 2003, though the 
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) invites post-promulgation 
comments and will address any such comments in a final rule. For the 
following reasons, the DHS finds that good cause exists for adopting 
this rule without the prior notice and comment period ordinarily 
required by 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) and (d)(3). First, this rule is a rule 
of agency practice and procedure, and so may be adopted without prior 
notice and comment. Additionally, this rule will benefit the parties 
affected by the rule by permitting the BCIS to accommodate parents who 
have been unable to meet the Form I-600 filing deadline because of the 
SARS outbreak.
    Accordingly, the DHS finds that it is impracticable and contrary to 
the public interest to adopt this rule with the prior notice and 
comment period normally required under 5 U.S.C. 553(b).

[[Page 46926]]

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    In accordance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 
605(b)), I have reviewed this rule and, by approving it, certify that 
this rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial 
number of small entities because of the following factors. This rule 
applies to individuals and allows individuals to extend the validity 
period of a Form I-600A during the process of adopting a child. It does 
not have an effect on small entities as that term is defined in 5 
U.S.C. 601(6).

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995

    This rule will not result in the expenditure by State, local and 
tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector, of $100 
million or more in any one year, and it will not significantly or 
uniquely affect small governments. Therefore, no actions were deemed 
necessary under the provisions of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 
1995.

Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996

    This rule is not a major rule as defined by section 804 of the 
Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996. This rule 
will not result in an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or 
more; a major increase in costs or prices; or significant adverse 
effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity, 
innovation, or on the ability of United States-based companies to 
compete with foreign-based companies in domestic and export markets.

Executive Order 12866

    This rule is not considered by the Department of Homeland Security, 
to be a ``significant regulatory action'' under Executive Order 12866, 
section 3(f), Regulatory Planning and Review, and the Office of 
Management and Budget has waived its review process under section 
6(a)(3)(A).

Executive Order 13132

    This rule will not have substantial direct effects on the States, 
on the relationship between the National Government and the States, or 
on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various 
levels of government. Therefore, in accordance with section 6 of 
Executive Order 13132, it is determined that this rule does not have 
sufficient federalism implications to warrant the preparation of a 
federalism summary impact statement.

Executive Order 12988: Civil Justice Reform

    This rule meets the applicable standards set forth in sections 3(a) 
and 3(b)(2) of Executive Order 12988.

Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995

    Under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 104-13, all 
Departments are required to submit to the Office of Management and 
Budget (OMB), for review and approval, any reporting or recordkeeping 
requirements inherent in a rule. This rule does not impose any new 
reporting or recordkeeping requirements under the Paperwork Reduction 
Act.

List of Subjects in 8 CFR Part 204

    Administrative practice and procedure, Immigration, Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements.

0
Accordingly, part 204 of chapter I of title 8 of the Code of Federal 
Regulations is amended as follows:

PART 204--IMMIGRANT PETITIONS

0
1. The authority citation for part 204 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 8 U.S.C. 1101, 1103, 1151, 1153, 1154, 1182, 1186a, 
1255, 1641; 8 CFR part 2.


0
2. Section 204.3 is amended by:
0
a. Adding an ``(i)'' immediately after the paragraph (h)(3) heading to 
designate existing text as paragraph (h)(3)(i);
0
b. Revising the fourth sentence in the newly designated paragraph 
(h)(3)(i); and
0
c. Adding new paragraph (h)(3)(ii).
0
The revisions and additions read as follows:


Sec.  204.3  Orphans.

* * * * *
    (h) * * *
    (3) * * * The approved application shall be valid for 18 months 
from its approval date, unless the approval period is extended as 
provided in paragraph (h)(3)(ii) of this section. * * *
    (ii) If the BCIS Director, or an officer designated by the BCIS 
Director, determines that the ability of a prospective adoptive parent 
to timely file a Form I-600 has been adversely affected by the outbreak 
of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in a foreign country, such 
Director or designated officer may extend the validity period of the 
approval of the Form I-600A, either in an individual case or for a 
class of cases. An extension of the validity of the Form I-600A may be 
subject to such conditions as the BCIS Director, or officer designated 
by the BCIS Director may establish.
* * * * *

    Dated: July 31, 2003.
Tom Ridge,
Secretary of Homeland Security.
[FR Doc. 03-20173 Filed 8-6-03; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4410-10-P




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