Adoptions Present Special Issues Under US Immigration Law

In my practice, I have had a number of people come to me to ask about how they can help a relative come to the United States. When the relative is a spouse, child, parent, brother or sister, there may be ways to help them. The rules for these types of relatives vary on whether the petitioner is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. But, when the relative is a cousin, niece or nephew, often people are disappointed to learn that U.S. immigration law does not provide an opportunity for that relative to come to the United States.

That is when some people start to think creatively. “What if I adopted my niece?” That is a question I hear a lot. On the surface, it would seem to solve the problem. If you adopt a relative, then they become your child, and then, logic would have it, you could file a visa petition. Right?

Well, the answer is not always that simple. In fact, quite the contrary, visa petitions involving adopted children present special issues. The rules that apply to adopted children depend on whether the child was an orphan when adopted. The term “orphan,” however, has a special definition under U.S. immigration law.


An “orphan” is a child whose parents:

• died or disappeared

• abandoned or deserted the child, or

• are separated or lost from the child.

If the adoptive parents do not see the child before the foreign adoption, the adoptive parents must be willing to re-adopt the child in the United States.

If there is only one surviving parent, the child may still be considered an orphan if the surviving parent in unable to provide care to the child, and irrevocably gives up his or her rights to the child so that the child can be adopted and leave the home country.

To qualify for immigration to the United States as an immediate relative, the orphan must be adopted by a U.S. citizen and spouse or an unmarried U.S. citizen who is at least 25 years old. The adoption can take place in the foreign country, or the orphan come to the United States to be adopted. The adopted parents must have seen the orphan personally before the adoption proceedings. Finally, the Attorney General must be satisfied that the adoptive parents can give proper care to the adopted orphan. The adoption must take place before the orphan reaches the age of 16.

The prospective parent or parents must show that the child will have a proper home environment when he or she comes to the United States. This is done through a home study and a fingerprint check. The adoptive parents must also show that they comply with any adoption requirements of the state in which they live.


An adopted child, who is not an “orphan” may still qualify as a “child” for the purpose of U.S. immigration law if the adoption must take place before the child’s 16th birthday. Also, the adopted child must be in the legal custody of the adopted parents, and living with them, for two years. For all intents and purposes, this means that the adopted parents must live overseas with the child for two years before the child can come to the United States. This makes it almost impossible for a permanent resident to adopt a foreign-born relative in order to bring that relative to the United States. That is because a trip abroad for over six months is considered by U.S. law to be an abandonment of permanent residency.

Because foreign adoptions present tricky issues, it is best that a person consult with a knowledgeable immigration lawyer before going through the process.

Read This Or One Day The MD’s Presentation Could Flop Because Of You!

Musa’s gets an email Monday morning from Sarah – MD’s Personal Assistant. It’s about the much expected presentation on a new company strategy which the MD is scheduled to deliver next Monday. Sarah’s email ends with the words: “I am confident you will ensure this very important presentation goes without a hitch. Thanks in advance“.

Musa Dele Anicho is Training Manager in the eastern branch of a large corporate multinational. Apart from providing needs-based training for the site staff/managers, his job involves coordinating briefings/presentations etc that have a way of occurring at short notice – with the key actor often being a top man, for example in this case, Mr. Samuel Okocha, the Managing Director.

Musa grimaces as he reads the last line of Sarah’s email but seeing in it a tacit “warning” immediately sets out to make all necessary arrangements. It is the first time since becoming Training Manager that he would be personally responsible for preparations towards the MD’s presentation.

By the end of the week his boss had contacted him more than 10 times about preparations and each time Musa had told him all was set. Indeed, “as far as he could see” everything was set.

a. He had copied the PowerPoint Presentation to the Toshiba Satellite laptop supplied by the IT department and test run it over and over again – with speakers/projector.

b. He had double-checked the lighting in the Training room to be used and ensured the seating arrangement would not prevent people seeing the projector screen.

c. Refreshments had been booked and all other routine arrangements made. All was set!

BUT why then – after all this work by Musa, did the following unfortunate event have to occur? And how did Musa via quick thinking eventually save the day – and himself?

It’s 10.00 am Monday morning and Mr. Okocha(the MD) is on the 3rd slide of his presentation with all staff and Managers in the eastern branch listening with rapt attention to the high profile presentation with serious expressions on their faces.

The MD just finished giving an overview of the new strategy and then says “Let me now move to the most important part of my presentation which is: The breakdown of our new Corporate Strategy including the Action Plan for its implementation”.

He clicks on the mouse but nothing happens(Musa’s heart misses a beat). The MD clicks again, this time twice, thrice..yet still nothing happens – A frown now appears on his forehead(Musa on his part is already beginning to sweat even though the room is fully airconditioned).

The MD grunts a bit inaudibly saying “Sorry I think there’s a problem” and looks around as if asking for some help. Musa’s boss, Mr. Lateef scowls deeply at Musa and motions with his eyes for him to do something!

Musa gets up, his mind racing, and walks with shaky legs towards the MD, who with characteristic calmness at this point casually carries on with his presentation using the printed paper version he had brought with him as a reference
(Lesson: Anytime you have to give a PC presentation, endeavour to carry a printed copy (printed version) with you as a backup. Technology is reliable but not error-free: Anything can happen, so be prepared!)

He realises he must find a very quick solution that will enable the MD deliver this important information to the large audience in a way that ensures they all get a sound understanding of the subject. He forces himself to calm down and think (even as one teasing voice tells him “There goes your career down the drain -all that hard work from all those years gone!”).

Musa suddenly remembers that while preparing for the MD’s presentation, he had taken pains to save a backup copy of the PowerPoint Presentation on his PC desktop in his office. An idea occurs to him, and he bolts from the hall and up to his office in the Training block in seconds.

He tries to copy the file to a 1.44MB floppy disk, but gets an error message: “not enough disk space!” The file is 1.65MB! He curses under his breadth, checks his watch: now almost 2 minutes since the MD stopped using the PC.

Some more thinking leads him to recall that right-clicking on a file in Windows XP and highlighting the “Send To” shortcut menu item brings up a short cut menu item called “Compressed(zipped) folder”. This useful feature is an alternative for when one does not have utilities like Winzip, Winrar or other file compression software on their PCs. Typically compression of up to 40% is achievable with this Windows XP version(Why not try using it now and see what you get?).

He right clicks the Power Point file, and applies the command. The resulting compressed .zip file easily copies to the floppy. He sprints out of his office and back into the hall where everyone turns to look at him as re-enters. He avoids his boss’ glare and walks to the Laptop, heart pounding, barely hearing the MD’s voice.

With the PC projector lights still switched off, he copies the zipped file to the desktop and right clicks on it.

a. He then clicks on the “Extract All..” shortcut menu item to bring up a “Compressed (Zipped) files extraction Wizard” welcome screen.

b. He clicks “Next” twice and watches as the wizard copies a folder containing the powerpoint file to the desktop.

c. He clicks “finish” and the folder (by default setting) automatically opens to reveal the uncompressed PowerPoint Presentation.

He quickly launches the presentation and clicks through slides 1 to 3, then holding his breath clicks to continue. There is a short delay, then the 4th slide appears! He clicks again, and the 5th appears, till all 10 slides are complete.

Musa looks up at his boss whose piercing gaze he has felt on him all the while and nods to indicate all is well. He puts on the Projector lights to reveal the 4th slide at which the MD turns and says “Ah, looks like we can continue!”. The presentation continues smoothly to the end. Musa looks at his watch: It had taken 3 minutes!

After the presentation, some of Musa’s colleagues asked him what happened. He had no answer for them as he had checked the bad copy again and again and could simply not explain what had caused it to go bad or “corrupt” at the transition to slide 3. It could have been the power glitch during the test run he did – but he could not be certain.

He did tell them two things however:

a. First was that keeping a back up copy of the file on his PC(and close to the presentation venue) made it possible for him to replace the bad one – in time.

b. Secondly, knowing about the Windows XP file compression utility enabled him get around the twin problems of the file being too large to fit on a disk + his not having WinZip installed on his PC.

One could argue that he could have used a Flash pen, but what if he did not own one, or could not find anyone who did or even worse(and quite possible), what if the flash pen went bad or missing at that point when he needed it? Things like this have a way of happening, so one is better off considering all possibilites and preparing for them.

The most important message here is that you need to take time to acquire new/relevant knowledge and skills to enable you become more productive and efficient on your job. The little things you can learn about technology available in your office to get more done in less time, will set you apart from the crowd and make you look good more often. The quote below, in our opinion summarises it well:

“The illiterate of the 21st Century will not be those who cannot read or write. They will be those who cannot learn, un-learn and re-learn” – Alain Tofle

Public Speaking – Take the 6-Second Presentation Challenge

During election season in the U.S., one of my clients, the CEO of a nonprofit organization, was invited to film an endorsement for a candidate’s television commercial. Her role was to introduce herself and her organization and explain why she supports the candidate. She was happy to participate because she is a big supporter. However, the challenge was that she only had 6 SECONDS to communicate her message!

I’ve written and spoken frequently about the importance of communicating your message within the time limit. And as means of practicing that skill, I’ve shared the improv game of Half-Life, where 2 people act out a scene in 64 seconds and then they repeat the scene in half the time – 32 seconds – and then again in 16 seconds and finally down to 8 seconds. The 8-second scene is usually hysterical and demonstrates that you can communicate a lot in a limited amount of time if you cut out the extra material and focus on the essentials.

On the other hand, communicating a complete message – especially a coherent and persuasive endorsement message – in 6 seconds is very difficult!

My client was able to do it (and in very few takes) because she prepared and practiced. Her endorsement was combined with other 6-second endorsements into a powerful short commercial.

While it’s unlikely that you’ll ever have only 6 seconds to give your entire presentation, taking the 6-Second Presentation Challenge can help you become a more effective presenter. The next time you have to give a presentation, challenge yourself to state your message in 6 seconds.

And “your message” is defined as the one sentence that summarizes the point of your presentation, the one thing that you want your audience to remember. Yes, all the supporting details and data help, but there should only be one core message. You can also think of it as a newspaper headline or a billboard.

Why is this helpful? Well, if you can say your message to yourself in 6 seconds, then you really understand it and will be able to organize your material around it. And that means that your audience will find it easier to understand your point because they won’t be distracted by unrelated information, extraneous material or confusing organization.

While you may take a little bit longer than 6 seconds when actually saying the message to the audience during your presentation, it shouldn’t take much longer.

The 6-Second Presentation Challenge can also be applied in a networking situation. For example, what do you say at a networking event when someone asks, “what do you do?” Rather than rambling on, can you prepare and practice a 6-second statement to introduce yourself clearly, concisely and confidently?

Take the 6-Second Presentation Challenge and let me know what you come up with and how it helps you become a more effective presenter.

(To read more about Half-Life, check out my blog post – )