Central American Minors (CAM) Refugee and Parole Program

Alert: On March 10, 2021 the Department of State announced the reopening of the CAM program. 

Alert: On June 13, 2018, a complaint was filed in the Northern District of California, S.A. v. Trump, 18-cv-03539, challenging an August 2017 decision to terminate the CAM parole program and related issues. Under the Final Judgment and Order for Permanent Injunction in S.A. v. Trump issued on May 17, 2019, and related settlement agreement, USCIS reopened and is continuing processing of certain CAM parole cases under the previous CAM parole policies and procedures.

This agreement affects individuals who received a conditional parole approval notice that USCIS then rescinded in 2017 after the CAM parole program’s termination. USCIS mailed notices alerting parents and their qualifying family members in cases affected by this agreement.

To determine your relative’s eligibility for resumed processing under the CAM parole settlement agreement, check your eligibility

About the Program

The CAM refugee and parole program provides certain qualified children who are nationals of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, as well as certain family members of those children an opportunity to apply for refugee status and possible resettlement in the United States.

Only certain parents who are lawfully present in the United States may request access to the program for qualifying children. A qualified child must be unmarried, under the age of 21, and a national of El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras. In some cases, an in-country parent of the qualifying child may also qualify for access. Children of a qualifying child may also qualify, if they are under the age of 21 and unmarried.

If you receive access to the CAM program, but you are found ineligible for refugee status, we will consider you for parole into the United States for “significant public benefit” reasons. Unlike refugee status, parole does not lead to any immigration status, but does allow you to enter and stay temporarily in the United States and to apply for work authorization.

Background

The CAM program was established in 2014 to provide certain children who are nationals of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras the opportunity to be considered for refugee resettlement or parole in the United States.

On Aug. 16, 2017, USCIS published a Federal Register notice announcing the termination of the parole portion of the program.

For FY2018, as part of the review of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, the decision was made to terminate the CAM refugee program. On Nov. 9, 2017, the Department of State stopped accepting new applications for the CAM refugee program. On Jan. 31, 2018, USCIS stopped interviewing new CAM cases but continued to process cases that received an initial interview by USCIS prior to that date.

On March 10, 2021, the Department of State announced the reopening of the CAM program in two phases. Phase One will process eligible applications that were closed when the program was terminated in 2017. Phase Two will be announced at a later date.

During Phase One, the Department of State is not accepting new applications. Domestic resettlement agencies are contacting parents who previously submitted an Affidavit of Relationship to verify eligibility and determine whether they wish to reopen the case. 

Please continue to monitor this page for updates including about Phase Two of the reopening of the CAM program. If you were previously paroled into the U.S. under the CAM program, please see the below information about seeking re-parole, or a new parole period, under the restarted CAM program.

Eligibility
Qualifying Criteria
Qualifying Parent

The U.S.-based qualifying parent may be any individual who is at least 18 years old and is lawfully present in the United States in one of the following categories:

  • Permanent Resident Status;
  • Temporary Protected Status;
  • Parole (for a minimum of one year);
  • Deferred Action (for a minimum of one year);
  • Deferred Enforced Departure (DED); or
  • Withholding of Removal.

The U.S.-based qualifying parent must be in one of the immigration categories listed in the eligibility section both at the time they apply and at the time the qualifying child and other eligible family member enter the United States, if the child or family members are paroled in.

Note on Qualifying Parents with Parole and Deferred Action

Parolees and individuals with DED must have had parole or deferred action for a minimum of one year at time of application. The time of application means the date of CAM-Affidavit of Relationship (CAM-AOR) filing with the Department of State.

Qualifying Child

The qualifying child, at the time of the application, must be:

  • The child (genetic, step or legally adopted) of the qualifying parent
  • Unmarried
  • Under the age of 21, and
  • A national of El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras.

Note: If a qualifying parent submitted an application before Nov. 9, 2017, and their qualifying child later reached the age of 21, the child is still eligible for the purposes of current adjudication, if the child remains unmarried.

Eligible Family Members

In some cases, in connection with a qualifying child, other eligible family members may have access to the program.

Unmarried children of the qualifying child who are located in-country

The unmarried under age 21 children of the qualifying child can be included as a derivative to the qualifying child’s case. 

In-Country Parent of the qualifying child

An in-country parent of the qualifying child may be included if they are (1) part of the same household and economic unit as the qualifying child, (2) are legally married to the qualifying parent in the U.S. at the time the qualifying parent files the CAM-Affidavit of Relationship (AOR); and (3) continue to be legally married to the qualifying parent at the time of admission or parole to the U.S.

If not legally married to the qualifying parent in the U.S., an in-country parent of the qualifying child may be included if they are (1) the biological parent of the qualifying child and (2) part of the same household and economic unit as the qualifying child.

In-country parents who qualify under both scenarios listed above would have his or her own case and could include their unmarried child(ren) under 21 who is not the child of the U.S. based qualifying parent. Those children would be listed as derivatives on the in-country parent’s case.

Children of the U.S.-based, qualifying parent, who are married and/or 21 years of age or older

These children would have their own case and they could include their legal spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 on their case as derivatives.

Primary caregiver of the qualifying child

A caregiver may be given access to the CAM program if related to:

  • the U.S.-based qualifying parent biologically or by legal marriage, or
  • the qualifying child via a biological, step, or adoptive relationship. 

The caregiver must also be the qualifying child’s primary caregiver and part of the same household and economic unit as the qualifying child. 

Application Process

The qualifying parent in the U.S. files Form DS-7699, Affidavit of Relationship (AOR) for Minors Who Are Nationals of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras (CAM-AOR). You may only access and complete this form with the assistance of a designated resettlement agency. For more information on contacting a designated resettlement agency, see the Department of State's FAQs.

There is no fee to apply for this program, and no one may charge you a fee to complete the form.

Once an applicant receives access to the program, specially trained USCIS officers will interview the qualifying child and eligible family members to determine who may be approved for classification as a refugee. USCIS determines eligibility for refugee status on a case-by-case basis. The qualifying child as well as certain eligible family members must establish independent refugee claims to be granted refugee status.

  • For more information about refugees and seeking status as a refugee in the U.S., see the Refugees section of our website. For a legal definition of “refugee,” see Section 101(a)(42) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

Additionally, DNA relationship testing is required between all claimed biological parent-child relationships. Individuals determined to be a refugee through this program will undergo a medical exam. If approved for travel, they will undergo cultural orientation, and will receive assistance with travel arrangements to the city where the U.S.-based qualifying parent resides.

If you receive access to the program, but we find you ineligible for refugee status, on a case-by-case basis we will consider you for parole into the United States for “significant public benefit” reasons.

You need not apply separately to be considered for CAM parole.

Applicants who are conditionally eligible for parole under the CAM program must meet the following additional requirements:

  • Medical Exam and Costs: All applicants for parole must obtain and pay for the medical exam.
  • Travel Arrangements and Costs: If you are authorized parole, you must book your travel through an approved USCIS process and pay for your flight to the United States.

Unlike refugee status, parole does not lead to any immigration status, but it does allow an individual to enter and stay temporarily in the United States and to apply for work authorization.

  • Parole allows individuals who may be ineligible for admission into the U.S. to come to the U.S. for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit. Parole determinations are made on a case-by-case basis depending on each individual’s unique circumstances. Parole is not in itself a lawful immigration status, but it does allow an individual to be lawfully present in the U.S. temporarily and to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
Requests for Review

There is no appeal for a denial of an application for refugee status. However, USCIS may exercise its discretion to review a case upon timely receipt of a Request for Review (RFR) from the principal applicant or a third party if the principal applicant waives his/her rights to confidentiality.

If … You could file a Request for Review of your denied refugee case…
We denied your refugee case and conditionally approved you for parole * Within 90 days from the date of your refugee status denial notice
We denied your refugee case, but we did not conditionally approve you for parole * Within 90 days from the date of the parole denial notice
We rescinded your conditional offer of parole because DHS terminated the CAM program Within 90 days from the date of your rescission notice

* Impact of a Request for Review (RFR) of your Refugee Application Denial on Parole

If you choose to submit a Request for Review (RFR) of the denial of your Form I-590, Registration for Classification as a Refugee decision, we will adjudicate it independently of your CAM parole case. However, if you are paroled into the United States while your RFR is pending, we will consider the RFR to have been abandoned.  Additionally, if we approve your RFR and Form I-590 after you have paid for your medical exam, those costs will not be refunded.  Plane ticket costs will be refunded minus a refund fee and any applicable penalties.

You may decide not to pay for the medical exam or plane ticket(s) until after you receive an RFR denial.  If you chose to wait for the RFR decision, please notify IOM when they contact your relative in the United States to collect payment for your medical examination or travel.  You can also contact us directly.  USCIS will then pause the processing of your CAM parole case until we adjudicate the RFR.

Case Closures

If USCIS administratively closed your parole case due to a Class A medical condition, inability to pay for medical exam or travel expenses, or for any other reason, you may contact IOM to request that we reopen your parole case. 

Requesting Re-Parole

If you have already been paroled under the CAM parole program and you have not requested or received an immigration status in the U.S., you must request re-parole (i.e. an additional parole period), to remain lawfully in the U.S. USCIS will consider CAM program re-parole requests under the criteria of the CAM program. You should submit your request at least 90 days before your parole expiration date, to allow time for processing. If you did not apply for re-parole due to the CAM parole program termination, you may apply now that the CAM program has restarted. Please include an explanation about why you did not apply for re-parole previously.

To request re-parole (i.e. an additional parole period), you must:

  • File a Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, and pay the required fee (or request a fee waiver);
  • Check Box 1.f. in Part 2 of the form and complete section 2.a. – 2.p.;
  • Write “CAM re-parole” across the top of the application;
  • Include any evidence to support re-parole, including an explanation of why you need to stay in the United States and documents supporting your explanation; and
  • Include a Form I-134, Affidavit of Support and supporting evidence;
  • Mail your request to the address listed on the Filing Addresses for Form I-131 webpage under the Humanitarian Parole accordion.

You may find additional information on how to apply for re-parole at Humanitarian or Significant Public Benefit Parole for Individuals Outside the United States.

Termination of Parole

Individuals who receive parole under the CAM parole program will maintain parole until their parole period expires, unless we terminate their parole for other grounds under DHS regulations at 8 CFR § 212.5(e). If you already have parole in the United States, we may terminate your parole status if:

  • You depart the United States;
  • You violate any laws of the United States; or
  • USCIS decides to terminate your parole.
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