The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently announced new family reunification parole programs for Colombians, Hondurans, Salvadorans, and Guatemalans. These new programs are modeled after the long-existing Cuban and Haitian Family Reunification programs, as well as the more recent parole programs for Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans. The purpose of these new programs is to allow family members waiting abroad for immigrant visa processing to spend that time in the United States instead. Allowing them to enter earlier would, according to DHS, promote family unity and provide a lawful and timely alternative to irregular migration.
Each program consists of five stages:
- First, it requires a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR) to have filed an I-130 petition for a family member from one of those countries and for that petition to have been approved. It requires that family member — beneficiary — to be residing outside the United States.
- Second, DHS will select and invite certain petitioners to file online a Form I-134A on behalf of the beneficiary and any derivative family members.
- The third stage is the agency’s review of the I-134A and determination that the petitioner has the necessary income and resources to support the beneficiary during their stay in the United States as a parolee.
- Fourth, the beneficiary will need to undergo and pass national security and public safety vetting before being issued advance authorization to travel to the United States.
- If granted travel authorization, the final stage will be for the beneficiary to present themselves to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials at an interior Port of Entry.
Parole will only be authorized on a discretionary, case-by-case basis upon a demonstration of urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit, as well as a demonstration that the applicant warrants a favorable exercise of discretion. If granted, the parole will likely be for a three-year period during which the person will be able to request employment authorization while waiting for the immigrant visa to become available. When their priority date becomes current, they will be able to apply for adjustment of status to become an LPR.
At this point it is unclear what factors the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will be applying when it chooses which petitioners will receive invitations, how many persons are being considered in the target pool, or the standards CBP will be applying in determining whether to grant parole. This is great news, but we don’t really know much on how this will work and when or if your family members will be able to take advantage of it. Stay tuned!