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6700 International and Immigration Issues

6710 Services to Children and Families Who Are Not U.S. Citizens

CPS August 2017

Child protection services, including investigative services, family-based safety services, substitute care services, and reunification services can be provided without regard to a parent, child, or youth’s immigration status.

8 USC §1611(b)(1)(D)

DFPS must identify the child’s or youth’s citizenship or immigration status because:

  •   federal law requires that child welfare agencies verify the citizenship and immigration status of children in foster care;

42 USC §671(a)(27)

  •   an international treaty requires that DFPS give notice to the foreign consulate when a person who is not a U.S. citizen is taken into custody (see 6715 Working With the Foreign Consulate);

  •   a child or youth’s immigration status impacts eligibility for funding; and

  •   failure to obtain immigration services for a child or youth in a timely manner can delay permanency.

Caseworkers with questions may consult with:

  •   a DFPS immigration specialist; or

  •   the regional attorney assigned to immigration issues.

See also 5541 Issues to Resolve Before DFPS’s Role in the Lawsuit Ends.

For information on citizenship and immigration status categories, see the International and Immigration Issues Resource Guide.

6711 Immigration Opportunities for Foster Children

CPS February 2017

A foster child without immigration status may become eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), if reunification with one or both parents does not occur. SIJS offers a path to permanent resident status, which can be essential for permanency.

A child who is already a permanent resident may become eligible for U.S. citizenship while in foster care. U.S. citizenship is particularly important for children with disabilities who need access to SSI benefits.

Contact the CPS immigration specialists, regional attorneys and border liaisons for assistance with these issues and refer to the International and Immigration Issues Resource Guide for more information.

6712 Impact of Citizenship and Immigration Status on Permanency

CPS February 2017

Correctly identifying a child or youth’s citizenship or immigration status and promptly pursuing available options promotes permanency. Consider the following:

  •  An undocumented child or youth is unable to work, obtain most student loans or other governmental benefits, and is subject to removal (deportation) if apprehended by immigration officials.

  •  Special Immigration Juvenile Status (SIJS) may be the only chance many undocumented children and youth have to obtain the status of permanent resident.

  •  By obtaining permanent resident status before adoption, a child or youth who is adopted while under age 16 may qualify for citizenship when the adoption is consummated.

  •  A new permanent resident must wait five years to access most governmental benefits (including Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) and food stamps), so the sooner the five-year period begins, the sooner additional resources will be available.

  •  In most cases a youth must be a permanent resident for five years and be age 18 to apply for naturalization, so the sooner the five-year period begins, the sooner a youth can obtain U.S. citizenship. U.S. citizenship removes all immigration-related restrictions on access to benefits. This is particularly important for youth with disabilities who may need SSI benefits.

6713 Caseworker Responsibility for Citizenship and Immigration

CPS February 2017

The caseworker’s responsibility for ensuring that every eligible child or youth receives all appropriate citizenship and immigration relief depends on the child’s status and the stage of the case. The caseworker must:

  •  find out where a child or youth was born and obtain birth records;

  •  for children and youth not born in the U.S., interview parents and other family members about citizenship and immigration status, and forward the Basic Immigration Information Form 6600 with copies of a child’s or youth’s travel and immigration documents to the immigration specialist;

  •  respond to requests for information and documents from the immigration specialist;

  •  support the application process for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, naturalization or other benefits by obtaining photographs, medical exams and other supporting documents as directed by the immigration specialist;

  •  bring the child or youth to appointments and interviews;

  •  promptly communicate to the immigration specialist any change in the child’s or youth’s circumstances (reunification with one or both parents, arrests, hospitalization, or change in the permanency plan);

  •  immediately forward to the immigration specialist and the regional attorney any notice, letter, or request for information from immigration authorities.

6714 Contacts With the Immigration Authorities

CPS February 2017

Caseworkers should rely on immigration specialists and regional attorneys to handle communications with immigration authorities. Any questions about communications with immigration authorities should be referred to the regional attorney.

6715 Working With the Foreign Consulate

CPS August 2017

DFPS works cooperatively with representatives of the foreign consulate when a foreign-born child is in DFPS conservatorship.

If DFPS removes a child who was born in another country and the child is not a U.S. citizen, DFPS must notify the foreign consul to comply with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, Article 37(b).

If the U.S. citizenship status of a foreign-born child is unclear, the best practice is to notify the consul. In addition to satisfying the legal requirement, contact with the consul may facilitate locating family members or identifying resources for the family.

DFPS is legally required to give notice to the foreign consul when a foreign-born child who is not a U.S. citizen comes into DFPS conservatorship.

6715.1 Giving Notice to a Foreign Consulate

CPS August 2017

To notify a foreign consulate that DFPS has removed a child, the caseworker must:

  •   complete Form 2650 Letter to Foreign Consulates;

  •   send Form 2650 to the consulate by fax (and files it, with the confirmation notice attached) or by mail (with a return receipt requested); and

  •   send a copy of the notice to the attorney representing the DFPS (by mail or fax), so that the attorney is aware of the consulate’s involvement.

Contact information for consular offices is available from DFPS immigration specialists.

6716 Transporting Undocumented Persons

CPS February 2017

Federal law prohibits inducing undocumented persons to enter the U.S. illegally, or concealing, harboring, or transporting such persons as a means of furthering a person’s illegal presence.

8 USC §1324(a)(1)(A)

If a caseworker has reason to believe a child or youth or a parent is not authorized to be in this country, and transportation is necessary to support delivery of child protective services, the caseworker:

  •  looks first to relatives and friends who can provide transportation, or to public transportation, and considers CPS to be the last resort for transportation (except in the case of removal of a child or youth);

  •  never takes any action to avoid detection or evade immigration authorities when transporting clients;

  •  requests that the family court specifically order CPS to provide transportation, if transportation will be an ongoing part of services;

  •  carries state-issued identification and a copy of the court order showing CPS’s relationship to the children or youth or the parents;

  •  carries copies of the filing receipt and the A# (case number immigration authorities use) assigned to the case, if an application for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) or other immigration relief has been filed; and

  •  does not ever cross the U.S. – Mexico border with an undocumented client.

In border areas, CPS advises staff to carry their own proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent resident status.

6720 Staff Travel Outside of the United States

CPS February 2017

Before traveling to Mexico or any other foreign country, staff must check with management to determine whether there are any current travel restrictions.

When a travel restriction is in place for Mexico, staff is permitted to meet U.S. consulate staff or representatives from Mexico’s social service agency, Desarollo Integral de la Familia (DIF), at the border, if necessary in the course of repatriation cases and in similar circumstances.

6730 Placements in a Foreign Country

CPS February 2017

If a parent in a foreign country seeks custody of a child or youth in CPS conservatorship, CPS has the same burden as in any case to show evidence of unfitness to justify not placing a child or youth with the noncustodial parent.

A child or youth can be placed with a parent or kinship caregiver in a foreign country, whether the child will be returning to his or her country of origin (repatriation) or will be placed for the first time in a foreign country. The placement decision is made based on:

  •  the individual child or youth’s needs;

  •  the proposed caregiver’s ability to meet the child or youth’s needs; and

  •  what option best serves permanency.

Special issues to consider include all of the following:

  •  the safety of a placement in a foreign country must be assessed based on supervision available from local child protection authorities, without CPS involvement;

  •  court approval is required for out-of-country travel by a foster child (Texas Family Code §264.122);

  •  once a child or youth is placed in a foreign country, CPS has no legal authority to act; and

  •  if the child or youth is not a U.S. citizen, staff consults with the regional attorney to assess immigration consequences of residing permanently outside the U.S.

If the parent or caregiver requires services, see 6243 Services to Parents Who Live Outside of the Country.

6731 Home Studies in Foreign Countries

CPS February 2017

If a child’s or youth’s parent, relative, or other potential caregiver resides in a foreign country, the caseworker may, with supervisory approval, request a home study from that country. If a child or youth has special needs or there are any specific concerns about the placement, these must be communicated with the home study request.

6732 Procedure for International Placement

CPS August 2017

Before placing a child in a foreign country, the caseworker must:

  •   obtain a favorable home study;

  •   inform all parties, the court, the child’s or youth’s guardian and attorney ad litem, CASA representative, the foster family or facility, and the consulate;

  •   set up any necessary monitoring and safeguards with child protection authorities in the area where the child or youth will reside;

  •   obtain and provide to the child’s caregiver a certified copy of the court order authorizing the placement; and

  •   verify the child or youth has necessary travel documents for entry into the placement country (and copies of U.S. citizenship or birth records, if applicable).

Once the child is placed, the caseworker must advise the attorney for DFPS and request dismissal of the legal case.

In all cases of a child being placed in a foreign country, the caseworker must consider that once the placement is made neither the state court nor DFPS has authority over the child.

If a parent who lives outside of the U.S. needs services as part of a reunification plan, see 6243 Services to Parents Who Live Outside of the Country.

6733 U Visa Certification Requests

CPS November 2022

The U visa is a United States nonimmigrant visa for victims of certain crimes who are willing to assist in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity.

DFPS does not certify U visas.

Although “child protective services” is mentioned in the law, DFPS does not have “criminal investigative jurisdiction.”

8 C.F.R. Section 214.14(a)(2)

To ensure consistent responses to stakeholders requesting a U visa certification, staff must forward these requests to the immigration specialist assigned to the region or to the managing attorney for immigration matters.

6740 Temporary CPS Custody Resulting from a Foreign Custody Order or a Hague Abduction Suit

CPS February 2017

In rare circumstances a lawsuit involving a foreign custody order or a Hague Abduction petition may result in a Texas court ordering a child into temporary CPS custody, if:

  •  serious physical harm or the child’s removal from the state is imminent; and

  •  the child’s parents or family members have no significant ties to the local area (for example, they do not live, work, or go to school there).

Texas Family Code §152.311


The lack of a family member with significant ties to the area is what makes it necessary for a court to involve CPS. As a result, if CPS seeks to place a child with a relative or kin, the caseworker must:

  •  document the ties the person has to the local area (such as living, working, or going to school there); and

  •  provide the information to the regional attorney who facilitates contact with the original court before the placement is made.

Service Planning

All substitute care policies apply as in any other case.

If no new allegations of abuse or neglect are made, the family plan focuses on the actions that the parents are expected to perform, such as paying for foster care, providing clothing, and attending medical, dental, and psychological appointments.


Because of the nature of these types of cases all visits with a child must be supervised by CPS staff and conducted at a CPS office, unless otherwise ordered by the court that placed the child under CPS conservatorship.

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