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"Not Clearly Approvable" Defined
Consular officers at U.S. Embassies and Consulates have limited, delegated authority from the United States Citizen and Immigration Service to approve Form I-600 petitions that are found to be clearly approvable. Clearly approvable means that the petition and supporting documentation clearly establish that the child is an orphan as defined by U.S. immigration law; all criteria identified on the Form I-600A approval regarding the child and any state pre-adoption requirements are met; and there are no concerns of fraud, child buying or other inappropriate practices in the adoption process.

In cases where the evidence is insufficient to establish that the child is an orphan or that the I-600A criteria have been met, the consular officer will allow the petitioner to respond to issues and questions that can be quickly and easily resolved. If issues and questions can be quickly and easily resolved and the case is clearly approvable the consular officer will approve the petition.

All non-Hague cases require an I-604 investigation to determine orphan status. In many instances this is a simple review of the documents and facts in the case. However, in some cases, an investigation by consular staff may be necessary to clarify doubts related to documentation presented or concerns of inappropriate practices. Investigations may include, but are not limited to, visits to the child's town of origin; interviews with birth relatives, orphanage staff, or social workers; DNA testing; and/or a field investigation.

If additional clarification and evidence does not fully resolve the issue quickly, the consular officer must send the petition to USCIS for review and adjudication. USCIS is the only agency with the authority to adjudicate NCA cases. If a case is identified as "Not Clearly Approvable", the consular officer sends the petitioner notification of the transfer to USCIS and provides contact information so that further inquiries may be directed to USCIS.

November 16, 2011 USCIS UPDATE ON PROCESSING OF “NOT CLEARLY APPROVABLE” CASES REFERRED BY EMBASSY ADDIS ABABA

A USCIS team of four officers arrived in Ethiopia and began working at Embassy Addis Ababa on November 7, 2011. As of the date of this notice, the team has received 63 “not clearly approvable” cases from Embassy Addis, and expects to receive at least 1 more case before they depart on Friday, November 18, 2011.
The following provides a summary of the results of the team’s review of the cases as of November 15, 2011:

Approvals Issued: 36
Requests for Evidence Issued: 9
Notices of Intent to Deny Issued: 1
Under USCIS Team Review: 9
Pending Birth Relative Interview: 8
Pending Physical Transfer: 1

During the team’s first days in Addis, they began reviewing the cases, and established procedures necessary for completing adjudication and issuing notices. Embassy Addis is providing the resources necessary for USCIS to be able to adjudicate the notclearly approvable cases. Although the team has encountered some technological challenges, the team has been issuing decisions and notices as soon as they are able. All cases that the team is able to approve before they depart from Addis Ababa will stay with the Consular Section in Embassy Addis Ababa, for immediate scheduling of immigrant visa processing. Families that receive an approval notice will be contacted directly by the U.S. Embassy within three business days. We strongly recommend that families wait to be contacted regarding an immigrant visa interview before making travel arrangements.

Cases that require a Request for Evidence or a Notice of Intent to Deny will be sent to the USCIS Rome District Office for further processing. Each family that received a Request for Evidence or a Notice of Intent to Deny should carefully read the instructions regarding where to send additional evidence to avoid delays in processing that could be caused by sending the evidence to the incorrect USCIS Office. USCIS has decided to utilize additional resources at the Rome District Office in the ongoing processing of some of the affected cases in an effort to ensure that they are processed to completion as quickly as possible.

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