Central American Minors (CAM): Information for Parole Applicants

Update: On Nov. 9, 2017, the Department of State stopped accepting new applications for the Central American Minors (CAM) refugee program. USCIS will stop interviewing CAM cases on Jan. 31, 2018. After that date, individuals with pending applications who have not been interviewed will receive a notice with further instructions.

The decision to terminate the CAM refugee program was made as part of the U.S. government review of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for FY 2018.

The CAM program was established in 2014 to provide certain minors in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras the opportunity to be considered, while still in their home country, for refugee resettlement in the United States. Individuals who were determined to be ineligible for refugee status were then considered by USCIS for the possibility of entering the United States under parole. The parole portion of the CAM program was terminated in August 2017. 

Please visit the Department of State’s website for more information. 

  • Effective immediately, USCIS will no longer consider or offer parole under the CAM Parole program.
  • USCIS published a Federal Register notice announcing the termination on August 16, 2017.
  • USCIS will issue notices to individuals conditionally offered parole under the CAM Parole program, who have not yet traveled, notifying them that the CAM Parole program has been terminated and their conditional offer of parole has been rescinded.
  • You can find general information about seeking parole at Humanitarian or Significant Public Benefit Parole for Individuals Outside the United States.
  • See "Notice of Termination of the CAM Parole Program," below for additional information.  

Notice of Termination of the CAM Parole Program

USCIS is no longer automatically considering or offering parole for individuals denied refugee status in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras under the CAM Parole program. Individuals who have been conditionally-approved for parole under this program, who have not yet traveled, will be notified that their conditional offers of parole under this program have been rescinded. Refugee processing under the CAM Refugee program continues.

USCIS published a Federal Register notice announcing the termination on August 16, 2017.

Why the CAM Parole Program is Being Rescinded

On Jan. 25, 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order entitled Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements that called for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to take action to ensure that parole authority under section 212(d)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. § 1182(d)(5)) is exercised only on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the plain language of the statute, and only when an individual demonstrates urgent humanitarian reasons or a significant public benefit. Consistent with the Executive Order, the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security has reviewed the CAM Parole program and decided to rescind the program, which automatically considered for parole all individuals found ineligible for refugee status under the in-country refugee program in Guatemala, Honduras, or El Salvador. 

This change in policy does not preclude such individuals from applying for parole consideration independent of the CAM Parole program by filing USCIS Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, consistent with the instructions for that form. Parole will only be issued on a case-by-case basis and only where the applicant demonstrates, by filing USCIS Form I-131, an urgent humanitarian or a significant public benefit reason for parole and that the applicant merits a favorable exercise of discretion. 

The CAM Parole program was implemented as part of an integrated strategy to address factors contributing to increases in migration from Central America to the United States. However, as indicated by the President’s Executive Order, DHS is pursuing a new strategy to secure the U.S. southern border. 

Impact on the CAM Refugee Program and Those Denied Refugee Status

The termination of the CAM Parole program does not affect the CAM Refugee program and its operation. Qualifying parents in the United States may still follow the existing process to gain access to the CAM Refugee program through a Department of State designated resettlement agency.

If individuals are denied refugee status, they will not automatically be considered for or offered parole under the CAM Parole program. They may, however, submit a Request for Review of their denied refugee case. For more information on the Request for Review process, see our Request for Review Tip Sheet. A person wishing to immigrate to the United States may have other immigration options.

Impact on Conditional Approvals and Administrative Closures

If you have been conditionally-approved for parole, but have not traveled, you will be provided a notice that the CAM Parole program has been terminated and your conditional offer of parole has been rescinded.

If you have been conditionally-approved for parole and paid the International Organization for Migration (IOM) for your medical exam, you will be notified that the CAM Parole program has been terminated and your conditional offer of parole has been rescinded. If you have not completed a medical exam, then IOM will contact you to arrange for a refund of your medical exam expense. If you have already completed a medical exam, then there is no refund of the medical exam expense.

If you have been conditionally-approved for parole and paid IOM for your travel expenses but have not made travel arrangements, you will be notified that the CAM Parole program has been terminated and your conditional offer of parole has been rescinded. IOM will contact you to arrange a refund of your travel expenses.

If your case was administratively closed due to a Class A medical condition, inability to pay for medical exam or travel expenses or any other reason, you may not request that your case be reopened.

Requests for Review

If you were conditionally-approved for parole but did not submit a Request for Review of your denied refugee case because you intended to travel to the United States with parole, you may file a Request for Review even though it is past the 90-day window for filing.

You have 90 days from the date that your conditional offer of parole is rescinded to submit a Request for Review of your denied refugee case.

Termination of Parole

If you have already been paroled in the United States, your parole status may be terminated if: 

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

At this time, those individuals who have been paroled into the United States under the CAM Parole program will maintain parole until the expiration of that period of parole, unless there are other grounds for termination of parole under DHS regulations at 8 CFR § 212.5(e). 

Applying for Re-Parole

If you have already been paroled under the CAM Parole program, you may apply for re-parole by filing Form I-131, Application for Travel Document. To be granted re-parole, you will need to establish that there are urgent humanitarian or significant public benefit reasons for you to remain in the United States and that you merit a positive exercise of discretion. You may find information on how to apply for re-parole at Humanitarian or Significant Public Benefit Parole for Individuals Outside the United States.

Other Parole Options

Read general information about seeking parole on a case-by-case basis by filing Form I-131 our website at Humanitarian or Significant Public Benefit Parole for Individuals Outside the United States.

Contacting USCIS about Your Case

If you are in San Salvador, you may inquire at the USCIS Field Office in San Salvador. If you are in Honduras or Guatemala, you may inquire at the USCIS Field Office in Guatemala City.  You may also email CAM@uscis.dhs.gov

Background

In November 2014, the Department of State announced it would allow certain minors in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to be considered for refugee resettlement in the United States, effective Dec. 1, 2014. The program allows certain parents lawfully present in the United States to request a refugee resettlement interview for unmarried children under 21 in Guatemala, El Salvador, or Honduras, as well as certain family members of that child. The parent in the United States must have lawful presence in order to request that his or her child be provided access to the program and considered for refugee resettlement or parole under the program. The program was expanded effective November 2016, to allow other qualifying relatives access to the program.

Previously, individuals who received access to the program, but were found ineligible for refugee status, were considered 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 an individual to enter and stay temporarily in the United States. These individuals are also permitted to apply for work authorization.

Update: On Jan. 25, 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order entitled Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements. The order called for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to take action to ensure that parole authority under section 212(d)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. § 1182(d)(5)) is exercised only on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the plain language of the statute, and only when an individual demonstrates urgent humanitarian reasons or a significant public benefit. As of Aug.16, 2017, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke has terminated the Central American Minors (CAM) Parole program. Accordingly, DHS will no longer automatically consider parole requests from individuals denied refugee status in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras under the CAM Parole program.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

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