Central American Minors (CAM) Refugee and Parole Program


CAM's refugee and parole program provides certain qualified children who are nationals of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, as well as certain family members of those children, the opportunity to apply for refugee status and possible resettlement in the United States. Only certain parents or legal guardians who are legally present in the United States and who are at least 18 years of age, may apply for access to the program for those children who qualify for it. A child in order to be eligible must be single, under the age of 21 and a national of El Salvador, Guatemala or Honduras. In some cases, a parent in the country of a child who qualifies for this program may also qualify for access to the program. Children of a child who qualifies for this program, or 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 are found ineligible for refugee status, you are considered for parole. Parole does not lead to permanent immigration status, but it does allow you to legally enter and live temporarily in the United States and apply for a work authorization. Typically, the Authorities approve parole under CAM for a period of three years. U.S. Customs and Border Protection makes the final determination at the port of entry regarding on whether or not a person should be paroled into the United States. 

The CAM program was established in 2014. On August 16, 2017, USCIS published a notice from the Federal Register announcing the termination of the probation portion of the CAM program. As part of the review of the U.S. Refugee Admission Program for fiscal year 2018, the CAM program was terminated. On November 9, 2017, the Department of State (DOS)  stopped accepting new filings of Form DS-7699, Affidavit of Relationship for Minors Who Are Nationals of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras (AOR), and on January 31, 2018, USCIS stopped interviewing new CAM cases  but continued to  process cases of people who were interviewed before that date. 

On March 10, 2021, the U.S. Department of State announced the reopening of the CAM program in two phases. Phase One began in March 2021 and focuses on reopening and processing eligible individuals with processes that were closed when the program ended in 2018. During Phase One,  DOS does not accept new  petitioners. National resettlement agencies are contacting parents who previously filed as a petitioner to verify eligibility and determine if they wish to reopen the case.

On June 15, 2021, the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security jointly announced the details of Phase Two. With the beginning of Phase Two, the eligibility for the petition is expanded to include legal guardians (in addition to parents) who are in the United States under any of the following categories: Lawful Permanent Residence; Temporary Protected Status; Probation; Deferred action; Deferred forced departure; o Withholding of removal.  In addition, this expansion of eligibility for the 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 a person was previously placed on probation in the United States under the old  CAM program and the parole period granted has expired or is about to expire, he/she must apply for a  Re-Parole Application  (to obtain a new period of probation) under the re-started CAM program. If you are interested in applying for a qualifying family member through the CAM program, please contact a national Resettlement Agency. DNA tests between individuals that affirm a biological relationship between parents and children, are required to prove such relationship. If the Authorities determine that you can be a refugee through this program, you will undergo a medical examination. If you are approved to travel, you will receive cultural guidance and assistance with travel arrangements to the city where your qualified U.S.-based parent resides. If you receive access to the program, but the authorities find you are ineligible for a refugee status, Authorities will consider on a case-by-case basis whether you should be placed on parole in the United States for urgent humanitarian reasons or a significant public benefit. When considering parole, you may be asked to submit additional information or documentation. This may include, among other elements, a  Form I-134, Affidavit of Support, and supporting evidence for certain adult and married members who qualify as family, guardians, or caregivers to ensure that the beneficiary has means of support if they were paroled  into the United States.

There is no fee to apply for this program, and no one can charge a fee to complete the relevant form. CAM applicants can be authorized for three years of parole. Parole determinations are made on a case-by-case basis, depending on each individual's unique circumstances. Parole does not provide immigration status, but it does allow you to be legally present in the United States temporarily and apply for a work permit or Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

If you applied for the CAM program and you are authorized on parole in the United States, you can contact Dyer Immigration Law Group to assist you in the application for your work permit. Our bilingual immigration attorneys will be happy to advise you in Spanish and provide you with the necessary legal services to apply for your Employment Authorization Document with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Dyer Immigration Law Group's legal fees for this service will be $350 and the relevant government fees are $410.

Published on October 25, 2021