Since we last adopted, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has changed the application process for advanced approval to adopt orphans from overseas. Instead of regional offices processing the I-600A applications, everything now goes through a National Benefits Center. My experience with our regional application support center has always been positive, but I think the application processing times varied from office to office. Plus, since the US is now a party to the international treaty of the Hague Adoption Convention, I think the centralized processing of applications may be required.
I like the increased communication with the new process. If you make an official request using one of the forms, USCIS will send you a text message or email confirming receipt of your application. We also received an official receipt in the mail with information on what next to expect.
We received our biometric appointment notices in the mail about two weeks after our application was submitted. I was surprised our appointments were assigned on different days. My husband was scheduled for a Thursday afternoon, and I was scheduled for Friday morning. I emailed the National Benefits Center to ask about changing one of the appointments, and the email response directed me to contact the application support center in person or by mail to request a change. We live a few hours from the center, so “in person” was not really an option for us. I did not want to take a chance with our appointments being delayed, so we kept our original appointments. I learned from the technician who took my fingerprints it would have been okay for me to come at the same time as my husband the day before – oh well, I wish the person at the National Benefits Center could have told me that. During our first adoption, bad weather delayed us from coming to our first biometric appointment, but it was very easy via email to correspond with the regional office and reschedule our appointments.
So, while technology seems to have improved the overall communication, the process is more impersonal. As always, the staff at our regional application support center were very efficient and friendly. I’ll update our timeline once we hear from USCIS about our application.