Huffman Coding

… with a bunch of Family Stuff too

INS catches up with the law

Next week we have our final meeting with the Citizenship and Immigration Services. Claire will finally be recognized as a U.S. citizen on December 3rd.

CIS used to be called INS, but after congress realized how ineffective they were, they moved departments around and changed their name. Dealing with the INS/CIS has been the least rewarding of the experience we’ve had adopting.

When you adopt internationally, you have to submit three forms to them: the Can-I-adopt? form, the Can-my-child-to-come-to-the-US? form, and the Can-you-make-my-child-a-citizen? form. Each of these forms cost hundreds of dollars to submit and each form can take up to a year or more to be accepted. They were so backlogged a few years ago that it was nearly impossible to contact them to get the status of any pending forms. They simply wouldn’t respond to their voicemail support number. In our case, we started the INS paperwork for Katie in 1997. It took until 2001 before INS made her a U.S. Citizen.

In 2000, Congress passed the Child Citizen Act, which said (and I’m paraphrasing) “This is silly. When a parent submits the Can-my-child-to-come-to-the-US?, make the child a U.S. citizen at the same time.” This law was so common sense, that it had 42 co-sponsors in Congress and passed with overwhelming bipartisan support.

In response the INS, months later, simply renumbered the third form. The content of the form was barely altered and the form still takes months for approval. The end effect was that the bureaucratic process wasn’t streamlined at all. Even though the law says she is U.S. citizen, the INS issued Claire a green card. So here we wait, months after she was allowed in the country, before she gets her Certificate of Citizenship.

Well pigs will soon be flying. Starting next year (that’s 4 years after the law was passed), CIS will make internationally adopted children U.S. citizens without having to submit, pay, and wait for the last form. It will still take a couple of months to receive the certificate and it only applies to two-thirds the children that meet a special category.

Too late for us, but its a good move.

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