Who You Can and Cannot Help Bring to the United States: Parole, Family Reunification, and the Central American Migrants Programs

I have a lot of clients calling me these days because they heard something on the news about different programs to bring family members to the United States outside of the normal means of applying for a relative via a family petition and having them wait outside of the U.S. for years waiting for their visa to become current and then obtain their green cards through consular processing. For sibling petitions, this can take 15 years and for a U.S. citizen parent petitioning for their married sons or daughters, it is taking 13 years. In other situations, asylum seeker parents who fled to the United States, leaving children behind, worry about their children’s safety and despair at the thought of having to wait years to go through the asylum process to be able to file “follow-to-join” petitions to bring them to the United States. During this wait period, the children might age-out, becoming ineligible to join them, they may be harmed, and time separated between parent and child can be unbearable.  In other situations, a certain country has a civil conflict or a natural disaster so severe that the U.S. government offers a parole program to offer people in those countries the opportunity to temporarily come to the United States and reunite with family members or other qualified sponsors. Oftentimes people confuse these programs.

 

There are four relevant programs:

 

New Family Reunification Program to Promote Family Unity

Let’s start with the new family reunification program. This program is only available for family members in the following countries: El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Cuba, and Colombia.  This program is exclusively for family members of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, who are the beneficiaries of I-130 visa petitions, whose visas are not yet available. The I-130s must be approved, and parole will only be considered on a case-by-case basis for up to three years. A beneficiary can only request parole after receiving an invitation from the U.S. Department of State.

 

Central American Migrants Program (CAM)

The Central American Migrants Program was established in 2014, but in 2017, the government terminated the program. In 2018, parents of children in the Northern Triangle, filed a class action lawsuit challenging its termination. S.A. v. Trump. In the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services settled the case in 2019, agreeing to reopen and continue processing CAM parole requests.  On April 11, 2023, the Departments of Homeland Security and State announced enhancements to the program.

 

The CAM program allows parents or legal guardians who in the United States to request that their children from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to be paroled into the United States. The child must be under 21 and unmarried. The parent or legal guardian must be at least 18 years old and can have one of the following statuses: lawful permanent resident, temporary protected status, parole (for a minimum of 1 year), deferred enforced departure, withholding of removal, a pending asylum application (filed on or before May, 15, 2021),a pending U visa petition (filed on or before May 15, 2021), or approved T visa.

 

Other Humanitarian Programs

 

Parole for Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans

 

The U.S. government, considering conditions in these countries, has been permitting up to 30,000 non-citizens from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela parole into the United States on a case-by-case basis. To be eligible, the person must have a supporter in the United States, who can be U.S. citizen, permanent resident, nonimmigrant in lawful status, asylees, refugees, parolees, or TPS holders. The beneficiary does not need to be an immediate family member of the supporter.  They must be a national of the designated countries, be outside the United States, have an unexpired passport, and pass vetting, and show that the parole is warranted for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.

 

Uniting for Ukraine

 

Similarly, the Uniting for Ukraine program was implemented following the Russian invasion. This program requires a supporter in the United States, who can be U.S. citizen, permanent resident, nonimmigrant in lawful status, asylees, refugees, parolees, or TPS holders. The beneficiary must have resided in Ukraine immediately following the Russian invasion (through February 11, 2022) and who were displaced by the invasion. They must be a Ukrainian citizen with a valid Ukrainian passport (or the immediate family member of a Ukrainian citizen) and pass vetting.

 

Program Qualifying Countries Qualifying Circumstances Who Can be the Sponsor?
Family Reunification El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Cuba, Colombia -Have an approved I-130 petition

-Receive an invitation from the Department of State

-Only the family member who filed the I-130
Central American Migrant Program (CAM) El Salvador, Guatemala,

Honduras

-A parent or legal guardian in the United States can request children (unmarried and under 21) to be paroled into the United States -Parent of legal guardian

-In the United States

-At least 18 years old

-lawful status – permanent resident, TPS holder, granted withholding of removal, has a pending application for asylum, pending U visa application, or approved T visa

Parole for Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, Venezuela -Have a supporter in the United States

-An unexpired passport

-Parole for significant public benefit or urgent humanitarian reasons

-Beneficiary is outside of the United States

-Someone in the United States who is either a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, nonimmigrant in lawful status, an asylee, refugee, parolee, or TPS holder
Uniting for Ukraine Ukraine -Be a Ukrainian national or the immediate family member of a Ukrainian national

-Has resided in Ukraine immediately following the Russian invasion

-Were displaced by the invasion

-Possess a valid passport

-Someone in the United States who is either a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, nonimmigrant in lawful status, an asylee, refugee, parolee, or TPS holder

 

When you hear something on the news, it is important to understand the specific requirements to determine if you or a family member may benefit. If you think you or someone you know may benefit, you can schedule an appointment and I can analyze the situation and help come up with a plan.

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