Foreign Authorization for ASPs to Perform Home Studies for PAPs Residing Outside the United States

Last Updated: April 4, 2023

The Office of Children’s Issues has received questions regarding how ASPs can proceed to conduct a home study for prospective adoptive families who are residing outside the United States when the Central or competent authorities do not have laws regarding authorization to perform home studies OR are unresponsive to ASP inquiries regarding authorization requirements.  We have consulted with USCIS to provide the following guidance, which supplements information provided in the Expat FAQ found on our website.

ASPs must comply with 22 CFR 96.47 regarding the preparation of home studies for prospective adoptive parents (PAP) interested in intercountry adoption. 22 CFR 96.47(b) requires that “The agency or person ensures that the home study is performed in accordance with [USCIS regulations] 8 CFR 204.311 and any applicable State law.” 

Under the Universal Accreditation Act, all home studies for both Convention and non-Convention intercountry adoption cases, including home study updates, must comply with the requirements in 8 CFR 204.311

8 CFR 204.311 addresses requirements for ASPs to obtain authorization from the relevant authorities in paragraphs (b) and (s): 

(b) Preparer. Only an individual or entity defined under 8 CFR 204.301 as a home study preparer for Convention cases may complete a home study for a Convention adoption. In addition, the individual or entity must be authorized to complete adoption home studies under the law of the jurisdiction in which the home study is conducted. 

(s) Home study preparer's authority to conduct home studies. The home study must include a statement in which the home study preparer certifies that he or she is authorized under 22 CFR part 96 to complete home studies for Convention adoption cases. The certification must specify the State or country under whose authority the home study preparer is licensed or authorized, cite the specific law or regulation authorizing the preparer to conduct home studies, and indicate the license number, if any, and the expiration date, if any, of this authorization or license. The certification must also specify the basis under 22 CFR part 96 (public domestic authority, accredited agency, temporarily accredited agency, approved person, exempted provider, or supervised provider) for his or her authorization to conduct Convention adoption home studies. 

Recognizing that some countries do not have laws that address authorization to conduct a home study in that country, the USCIS Policy Manual Volume 5, Part B, Chapter 4, indicates that in such situations, the home study preparer need only comply with U.S. requirements and should indicate this in the statement that is required to address the preparer’s authority. See USCIS Policy Manual Volume 5, Part B, Chapter 4 (Statement of Home Study Preparer’s Authority, Footnote #8). 

In the event the ASP has attempted to seek clarification from the country of origin about authorization requirements but has not received a response, USCIS confirms the home study preparer should ensure the statement of the home study preparer’s authority includes a description of what efforts were made to obtain the information without results or response. USCIS may issue a Request for Evidence (RFE) if additional evidence is needed. 

Questions about evidence of compliance with USCIS requirements related to specific cases should be directed to the USCIS National Benefits Center