Expanded Central American Minors (CAM) Refugee/Parole Program
In February 2015, the federal government announced an expansion to the existing Central American Minors (CAM) Refugee/Parole Program to cover certain eligible spouses and grandchildren of qualified individuals from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras who are lawfully present in the U.S. The CAM program would allow qualifying parents to request access to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program to allow their children still living in El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras to safely travel to the U.S. The U.S. Department of State (DOS) emphasizes, however, that this program “will not be a pathway for undocumented parents to bring their children to the United States.” The CAM program began accepting applications on December 1, 2014.
The CAM program was introduced in response to the sudden influx of unaccompanied minors from Central American countries who were apprehended at the Southwest border while illegally entering the U.S. During Fiscal Year 2014 (October 1, 2013-September 30, 2014), nearly 52,000 unaccompanied minors from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras alone were apprehended.
The CAM program would confer refugee status to those who meet the definition of a “refugee” according to Section 101(a)(42) of the Immigration Nationality Act (http://www.justice.gov/eoir/vll/benchbook/resources/sfoutline/ina101(a)(42).pdf). The qualifying parent must file Form DS-7699 “Affidavit of Relationship for Minors Who Are Nationals of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras (CAM-AOR),” which can only be accessed and completed with the help of a designated resettlement agency. A list of such resettlement agencies can be found at the DOS website for Refugee Processing Centers:http://www.wrapsnet.org/CAMProgram/tabid/420/Default.aspx.
Qualifying parents are individuals who are 18 years and older and lawfully present in the U.S. in one of these statuses:
- Permanent Resident status;
- Temporary protected status;
- Deferred Action*;
- Deferred Enforced Departure;
- Withholding of Removal.
*Parolee and deferred action status must have been granted for a minimum of one year.
Qualifying children must be:
- The biological, step, or legally adopted child of the qualify parent;
- Under the age of 21;
- A national of El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras; and
- Residing in his or her country of nationality.
DNA testing is required for all cases to prove a familial relationship between the qualifying parent and qualifying child.
Under the expanded program, certain family members may also qualify for the program. Eligible family members include:
- Unmarried children of the qualifying child who are under 21 years of age;
- A parent of the qualifying child who is (1) part of the same household and economic unit as the qualifying child; (2) legally married to the qualifying parent at the time of application; and (3) continues to be legally married to the qualifying parent.
Those who do not qualify for refugee status may be eligible for parole. Family members who are granted parole must obtain and pay for their own medical clearance and travel arrangements in accordance with USCIS guidelines. Additional details regarding the CAM program may be found at the USCIS website:http://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/refugees-asylum/refugees/country-refugeeparole-processing-minors-honduras-el-salvador-and-guatemala-central-american-minors-cam