Central American Minors (CAM) Refugee and Parole Program

Alert: On Sept. 13, 2021, the Department of State (DOS) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program is now accepting new applications as part of Phase Two of reopening the CAM program.

Alert: On June 15, 2021, DOS and DHS announced details regarding Phase Two of reopening the CAM program.

On March 10, 2021 the Department of State announced the reopening of the CAM program. See Background for more information.

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This agreement affects individuals who received a conditional parole approval notice that USCIS then rescinded in 2017 after the CAM parole program’s termination.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 a relative’s eligibility for resumed processing under the CAM parole settlement agreement, visit the CAM Case Check webpage.

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 or legal guardians 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 or of other eligible family members may also qualify, if those children are under the age of 21 and unmarried.

If you receive access to the CAM program, but we find you ineligible for refugee status, we will consider you for parole. Parole does not lead to a permanent immigration status, but it does allow you to lawfully enter and live temporarily in the United States and to apply for work authorization. We will generally approve parole under CAM for a three-year period. U.S. Customs and Border Protection makes the ultimate determination whether to parole an individual into the United States at a port of entry.

Background

The CAM program was established in 2014.

On Aug. 16, 2017, USCIS published a Federal Register notice announcing the termination of the parole portion of the CAM program. As part of the review of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for fiscal year 2018, the CAM program was terminated. On Nov. 9, 2017, DOS stopped accepting new submissions of Form DS-7699, Affidavit of Relationship for Minors Who Are Nationals of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras (AOR), and on Jan. 31, 2018, USCIS stopped interviewing new CAM cases. We continued to process cases of people we interviewed before that date.

On March 10, 2021, DOS announced the reopening of the CAM program in two phases. Phase One began in March 2021 and focuses on reopening and processing eligible AORs that were closed when the program was terminated in 2018. During Phase One, DOS is not accepting new AORs. Domestic resettlement agencies are contacting parents who previously submitted an AOR to verify eligibility and determine whether they wish to reopen the case.

On June 15, 2021, DOS and DHS jointly announced the details of Phase Two of the reopening. Beginning in Phase Two, eligibility to petition will expand to include legal guardians (in addition to parents) who are in the United States under any of the following qualifying categories:

  • Lawful permanent residence;
  • Temporary Protected Status;
  • Parole;
  • Deferred action;
  • Deferred enforced departure; or
  • Withholding of removal.

In addition, this expansion of eligibility to petition will now include certain U.S.-based parents or legal guardians who have a pending asylum application or a pending U visa petition filed before May 15, 2021. 

If you are interested in applying for a qualifying family member via the CAM program, please contact a domestic Resettlement Agency.

Note: If you were previously paroled into the United States under the CAM program, refer to Requesting Re-Parole to learn more about the process for requesting re-parole (a new parole period) under the restarted CAM program.

Eligibility
Qualifying Criteria

Qualifying Parent or
Legal Guardian

The U.S.-based qualifying parent or legal guardian must be at least 18 years old and in the United States in one of the following categories:

  • Lawful permanent resident;
  • Temporary Protected Status;
  • Parole (for a minimum of one year);
  • Deferred action (for a minimum of one year);
  • Deferred enforced departure (DED);
  • Withholding of Removal;
  • With a pending asylum application filed before May 15, 2021; or
  • With a pending U visa petition filed before May 15, 2021.

The U.S.-based qualifying parent or legal guardian must be in one of these categories when they file the AOR. In addition, for the qualifying child and other eligible family members to be approved for parole, the qualifying parent or legal guardian must still be in one of the categories listed above or have received asylum or had their U visa petition approved.

Note on Qualifying Parents or Legal Guardians With Parole and Deferred Action

Parolees and individuals with deferred action must have been authorized parole or deferred action for a minimum of one year.

Qualifying Child

The qualifying child, at the time the AOR is filed, must be:

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

Note: If a qualifying parent submitted an AOR 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.

Eligible Family Members

In some cases, the following eligible family members may have access to the program when included with a qualifying child:

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

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

In-country parent of the qualifying child

An in-country parent of the qualifying child may be included if they:

  • Are part of the same household and economic unit as the qualifying child;
  • Are legally married to the qualifying parent in the United States at the time the qualifying parent files the AOR; and
  • Continue to be legally married to the qualifying parent at the time of admission or parole to the U.S.

If an in-country parent of the qualifying child is not legally married to the qualifying parent in the U.S., the in-country parent may be included if they are:

  • The biological parent of the qualifying child; and
  • Part of the same household and economic unit as the qualifying child.

In-country parents who qualify under either scenario listed above have their own case and can include their unmarried children under 21 who are not the child of the U.S.-based qualifying parent. Those children would be listed as derivatives on the in-country parent’s case. The qualifying child’s biological parent who is not legally married to the qualifying parent in the United States may also include their legal spouse as a derivative on their case.

If a legal guardian is filing the AOR for a qualifying child, the legal guardian cannot include an in-country parent of the qualifying child.

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

If the U.S.-based qualifying parent has children who are married or 21 years of age or older, those children have their own case and can include their legal spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 on their case as derivatives.

If a legal guardian is filing the AOR for a qualifying child, the legal guardian can include siblings of the qualifying child.

Primary caregiver of the qualifying child

A caregiver may be given access to the CAM program if they are 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. 

A legal guardian filing the AOR for a qualifying child can include a primary caregiver of the qualifying child only if the primary caregiver is related to the qualifying child.

Application Process

A qualifying parent or legal guardian in the United States may file an AOR 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 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. We determine eligibility for refugee status on a case-by-case basis. The qualifying child – as well as certain eligible family members – must establish an independent refugee claim to be granted refugee status.

  • For more information about refugees and seeking status as a refugee in the United States, see the Refugees webpage. 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 individuals claiming a biological parent-child relationship. If we determine you are a refugee through this program, you will undergo a medical examination. If we approve you for travel, you will receive cultural orientation and assistance with travel arrangements to the city where your U.S.-based qualifying parent resides.

If you receive access to the program, but we find you ineligible for refugee status, we will consider on a case-by-case basis whether to parole you into the United States for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit. In considering parole, we may require you to submit additional information or documentation. This may include, among other items, a Form I-134, Affidavit of Support, and supporting evidence for certain adult and married qualifying family members, guardians, or caregivers to ensure they have a means of support if we parole them into the United States.

If you are conditionally eligible for referral for further parole processing under the CAM program, you must meet the following additional requirements:

  • All applicants considered for parole must obtain and pay for a medical examination.
  • All applicants approved for parole must book travel through an approved USCIS process and pay for the flight(s) to the United States.

We make parole determinations on a case-by-case basis, depending on each individual’s unique circumstances. Parole does not provide an immigration status, but it does allow you to be lawfully present in the United States temporarily and to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). CAM applicants may be authorized for three years of parole.

Requests for Review of the Refugee Application

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 their rights to confidentiality.

If … You may file an RFR of a denied refugee case…
USCIS denied the refugee case and conditionally approved parole* Within 90 days from the date of the refugee status denial notice
USCIS denied the refugee case, but did not conditionally approve parole* Within 90 days from the date of the parole denial notice
USCIS rescinded your conditional offer of parole because DHS terminated the CAM program Within 90 days from the date of the rescission notice

* Potential impact of a RFR on the process for parole:

  • USCIS will adjudicate an RFR independently of a parole case. However, we will consider an RFR abandoned if you enter the United States as a parolee. Additionally, if we approve an RFR and Form I-590 after your medical examination has concluded, we will not refund those costs. We will refund plane ticket costs (minus a refund fee and any applicable penalties).
  • If we consider you for further parole processing, you may decide not to pay for the medical examination or plane ticket(s) until after the RFR decision. If you are waiting for the RFR decision, contact USCIS directly. We will pause processing your parole case until after the RFR decision.
Case Closures

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

Requesting Re-Parole

If you have already been paroled under the CAM program but have not requested or received an immigration status in the United States, you must request re-parole (an additional parole period) to lawfully remain in the United States past the date that your initial parole expires. We will consider CAM re-parole requests under the same criteria of the CAM program. Submit re-parole requests at least 90 days before the parole expiration date to allow time for processing. If you did not apply for re-parole due to the previous termination of the CAM program, you may apply now that the CAM program has restarted. Include an explanation about why you did not submit the application for re-parole earlier.

Steps for requesting re-parole (an additional parole period):

  • File a Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, and pay the required fee (or request a fee waiver);
  • Check Box 1.e. or 1.f. in Part 2 of the form and complete section 2.a. – 2.p., if applicable;
  • 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;
  • Include a Form I-134, Affidavit of Support, and supporting evidence; and
  • Mail the I-131 form, payment, and supporting documents together to the address provided on the Filing Addresses for Form I-131 webpage for Humanitarian Parole applicants.

Find additional information on how to apply for re-parole on the Humanitarian or Significant Public Benefit Parole for Individuals Outside the United States webpage.

Termination of Parole

If you receive parole under the CAM program, you will maintain parole until your parole period expires, unless we terminate parole for other grounds under DHS regulations at 8 CFR § 212.5(e). We may terminate parole for:

  • Departure from the United States;
  • Violation of any laws of the United States; or
  • Our decision to terminate parole.
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