New Family Reunification Parole Processes for Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras
On July 7, 2023, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the implementation of new Family Reunification Parole processes for Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. The purpose of the Family Reunification Parole (FRP) processes is to promote family unity through safe, legal, and orderly channels of migration to the United States and to discourage irregular and dangerous migration.
Accordingly, the newly implemented FRP processes for Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras allows certain beneficiaries to be paroled into (allowed to stay temporarily in) the United States, on a case-by-case basis. Such beneficiaries must have already approved family-based petitions, among others. Beneficiaries paroled into the United States under the processes would be eligible to apply for work authorization.
DHS has implemented the FRP processes under its discretionary authority granted by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to parole noncitizens into the United States temporarily. In the FRP processes, DHS grants the parole on a case-by-case basis for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit. Under the authority, USCIS has been administering the FRP Programs for Cuba and Haiti since 2007 and 2014 respectively.
Who is Eligible for the FRP Processes?
1. Petitioner’s Eligibility
The FRP processes are available to certain petitioners who:
- Is either a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident;
- Filed an approved Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, on behalf of a principal beneficiary who is a national of Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras and their immediate family members; and
- Received a written invitation from the Department of State to file Form I-134A to be a supporter and initiate the FRP process.
2. Beneficiary’s Eligibility
In addition, such beneficiary must:
- Be outside the United States;
- Be the principal or derivative beneficiary of an approved Form I-130 or an add-on derivative beneficiary;
- Be a national of a Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras or a derivative beneficiary of an eligible principal beneficiary;
- Have a petitioning relative in the United States who received an invitation to initiate the FRP process on the beneficiaries’ behalf;
- Not yet have been issued an immigrant visa at the time the invitation was issued to the petitioning relative;
- Have an unexpired passport valid for international travel; and
- Be under 21 years old on the date that USCIS receives the Form I-134A, if the beneficiary is a derivative child.
Furthermore, such beneficiaries must also:
- Receive a medical examination by a panel physician;
- Pass national and public safety vetting; and
- Demonstrate that they merit a favorable discretion by DHS.
In addition, CBP will consider a beneficiary’s previous immigration history, encounters with U.S. government entities, and the results of screening. CBP considers these items when determining eligibility to be issued advance authorization to travel to the United States as well as when determining whether to grant parole to the beneficiary at the port of entry.
Who Is Not Eligible for the FRP Processes?
On the other hand, DHS will consider a beneficiary to be ineligible under the FRP processes if the beneficiary has:
- Crossed irregularly into the United States, between U.S. ports of entry, after July 10, 2023;
- Been interdicted at sea after July 10, 2023; or
- Been ordered removed from the United States within the prior 5 years or is subject to a bar to admissibility based on a prior removal order.
How Can the Petitioning Relative Support Derivative Beneficiaries?
Derivative beneficiaries are the principal beneficiary’s spouse and unmarried children under 21 years old. Such derivative beneficiaries may be eligible for family reunification parole. If the approved Form I-130 does not list the derivative beneficiaries, the petitioner may file Form I-134A requesting to become their supporter and initiate the FRP process.
In supporting derivative beneficiaries, the petitioner must submit certain evidence as part of the Form I-134A. The evidence must verify the family relationship between the principal beneficiary and the derivative beneficiaries they request to support (i.e., a birth certificate, a marriage certificate).
What is the Invitation Process?
On July 31, 2023, DOS’s National Visa Center (NVC) began issuing the invitations under the FRP processes. NVC will send the invitations by mail or email to the Form I-130 petitioner who are eligible to submit Form I-134A to initiate the FRP process. This invitation includes a 12-month deadline to apply. The petitioner must receive the invitation before submitting Form I-134A.
NVC will issue invitations on a rolling basis based on U.S. government operational capacity. The petitioners may confirm whether an invitation has been issued to them using the tool below provided by USCIS. If the tool indicates that an invitation has been issued but it has not been delivered, the petitioners may contact the NVC through their Public Inquiry Form.
How Can I Apply for the FRP Processes?
Only petitioners who receive an invitation from NVC apply for the FRP processes. Beneficiaries cannot apply for the processes.
Accordingly, after receiving an invitation, the petitioner will submit Form I-134A for each beneficiary with USCIS through the online myUSCIS web portal. The petitioner must submit a separate Form I-134A for each beneficiary he/she is seeking to support, including minor children.
When submitting Form I-134A, the petitioner must establish that he/she has enough income and assets to maintain the intended beneficiary and the rest of the petitioner’s household at 100% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
If the petitioner cannot establish that he/she can financially support the beneficiary, the petitioner may use co-supporters. A co-supporter does not have to be a family member and does not file their own Form I-134A. However, a co-sponsor has to demonstrate the ability to assist in supporting the beneficiary for the duration of the parole period. The petitioner in that case will file the Form I-134A with supplementary evidence. The evidence must demonstrate the identity of, and resources to be provided by, the co-supporter and with a statement explaining the intent to share the financial responsibility.
What is the Process of the FRP Processes?
Here is the summary of the FRP Processes:
Step 1: NVC sends invitation to petitioner.
- NVC will send an invitation by email or mail to the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident petitioner who filed the approved Form I-130 on behalf of the beneficiaries.
- The invitation will instruct the petitioner on next steps to initiate the FRP process, including instructions on documentation to include in their Form I-134A.
Step 2: Petitioner submits Form I-134A online.
- After receiving an invitation, the petitioner who filed the approved Form I-130 on behalf of the beneficiaries will initiate this process by submitting a Form I-134A for each beneficiary with USCIS through the online myUSCIS web portal.
- USCIS will perform background checks on the petitioner and verify that they are able to financially support the beneficiary. The petitioner must also submit evidence establishing the family relationships between the principal beneficiary and the derivative beneficiaries in each Form I-134A.
Step 3: Beneficiary electronically provides information supporting the request.
- If USCIS confirms a Form I-134A, USCIS will send an email to the beneficiary named in that Form I-134A with instructions on how to create an online account with myUSCIS and information on the next steps.
- The beneficiary will need to confirm biographical information and attest to meeting the eligibility requirements and receiving certain vaccinations, a medical exam, and clearance to travel by a designated panel physician.
Step 4: Beneficiary submits request in CBP One mobile application.
- After completing Step 3, USCIS will post instructions in the beneficiary’s online account on how to access the CBP One mobile application (PDF, 771.55 KB). The beneficiary must enter certain biographical information into CBP One and provide a photo.
Step 5: CBP issues beneficiary advance authorization to travel to the United States.
- After completing Step 4, CBP will, in its discretion, post a notice in the beneficiary’s online account confirming whether CBP has determined to issue advance authorization to travel to the United States to seek a discretionary grant of parole at the port of entry.
- If approved, this authorization is valid for 90 days. Beneficiaries who received the advance travel authorization should arrange to fly directly to their final destination in the United States. Still, grant of the travel authorization does not guarantee entry or parole into the United States at a U.S. port of entry.
- Children under age 18 must travel to the United States with and in the care and custody of a parent or legal guardian who can provide documentation to confirm the relationship.
- Lastly, principal beneficiaries must travel to the United States with or before any derivative beneficiary. Derivative beneficiaries may not be paroled into the United States unless the principal beneficiary is paroled into the United States.
Step 6: Beneficiary seeks parole at the port of entry.
- CBP will inspect each beneficiary arriving at a port of entry inside a U.S. airport and will consider whether to grant discretionary parole, on a case-by-case basis.
- Upon arrival at the airport, the beneficiary will undergo additional screening and vetting, including additional fingerprint biometric vetting. CBP will generally deny a parole for a beneficiary when CBP determines that he/she poses a national security or public safety threat. CBP may refer such beneficiaries to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Step 7: Beneficiary is paroled into the United States.
- A beneficiary granted parole under these processes will generally be paroled into the United States for a period of up to 3 years while they wait to apply to become a lawful permanent resident.
- Such beneficiary granted parole may apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) by filing Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, either online or via mail.
What Happens If Form I-134A is Denied?
USCIS’s decision that the Form I-134A is insufficient is final. USCIS will send an email to the petitioner and beneficiary notifying them of the decision. However, the petitioner may file a new Form I-134A with additional evidence.
What Can the Beneficiary Do After the Beneficiary Is Paroled into the United States?
1. Applying for Employment Authorization
After being paroled into the United States, the beneficiaries are eligible to apply for discretionary employment authorization from USCIS. They may apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) by submitting Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, using the (c)(11) category code with the required fee, or apply for a fee waiver by submitting Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver.
2. Obtaining a Social Security Number and Card
The beneficiaries may also apply for a Social Security number (SSN) using Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. If they request an SSN on Form I-765, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will assign the beneficiaries an SSN and issue them a Social Security card. SSA will mail their Social Security card directly to the address they provide on Form I-765.
3. Address Updates
The beneficiaries who are residing in the United States longer than 30 days must report their physical address in the United States as a condition of the parole. Furthermore, if the address changes after they enter the United States, they must notify USCIS within 10 days of the change, by either:
- Using USCIS’ online change of address form; or
- Through the beneficiary’s existing USCIS online account (if any).
4. Terminating Parole
If the beneficiaries have already been paroled into the United States, their parole will automatically be terminated if:
- The beneficiaries depart the United States; or
- The beneficiaries’ parole period expires.
Still, if the beneficiaries depart the United States with an approved Advance Parole Document, they may seek parole back into the United States after the travel.
In addition, DHS may also terminate the parole upon notice at its discretion for other reasons, including violation of any U.S. laws. If the beneficiaries stay in the United States after the parole expires and is not otherwise in a period of authorized stay, officials who encounter the beneficiaries may refer them to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for immigration proceedings.
5. Leaving the United States
If the beneficiaries want to leave the United States and then return as a parolee, they must request an Advance Parole Document. They may request the Document by filing Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, before traveling outside the United States.
Still, obtaining an advance parole document does not guarantee that they will be paroled back into the United States. CBP will make a separate discretionary decision on the beneficiaries’ request for parole when they arrive back at a U.S. port of entry.
The beneficiaries may not be able to return and seek parole back into the United States if they leave the United States without getting an Advance Parole Document.
6. Becoming a Lawful Permanent Resident
When eligible, the beneficiaries may apply for a Green Card once their immigrant visas become available. They may apply for a Green Card by submitting Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
7. Unlawful Presence
If the beneficiaries have been in the United States unlawfully since they arrived as a parolee, they may not be able to adjust their status. That is, such beneficiaries would have to leave the United States to apply for an immigrant visa to return to the United States as a lawful permanent resident.
In addition, if the beneficiaries have been in the United States unlawfully for more than 180 days and they depart the United States, they may not be allowed to return to the United States for either 3 or 10 years, depending on the length of the unlawful presence, unless they receive a waiver.
If they are subject to the unlawful presence bar, they may apply for a waiver by filing Form I-601A, Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver, before they leave the United States to appear at a U.S. embassy or consulate for an immigrant visa interview.
Avoid immigration scams
Lastly, USCIS issues a warning about an immigration scam. If you need legal advice on immigration matters, make sure the person helping you is authorized to give legal advice. Only an attorney or accredited representative working for a Department of Justice recognized organization can give you legal advice.
USCIS provides answers to frequently asked questions about the new FRP processes here.
 The FRP Program for Haiti also aims to help Haiti continue to recover from the devastation and damage suffered in the January 12, 2010, earthquake.
 Principal beneficiary is a family member for whom the petitioner filed Form I-130. For example, the principal beneficiary could be a spouse or unmarried child under age 21 of a Green Card holding petitioner. The principal beneficiary could be a U.S. citizen petitioner’s adult son or daughter or sibling.
 If a principal beneficiary marries or has a child after USCIS approves the Form I-130, their spouse or unmarried child under 21 may, in some circumstances, become an add-on derivative beneficiary. Such beneficiaries may be eligible for parole based on their relationship to the principal beneficiary.
 Immigrant visas are immediately available to U.S. citizen’s immediate relatives. Accordingly, if the Form I-130 petitioner is a U.S. citizen sponsoring the green card application for his/her immediate relatives, such petitioner does not need to use the FRP processes. Immediate relatives mean spouses, unmarried children under 21 years old, and parents if the U.S. citizen is 21 years old or older.
 DHS will not consider a beneficiary to be ineligible based on a single voluntary departure pursuant to the INA section 240B or withdrawal of their application for admission pursuant to the INA section 235(a)(4).
 “Interdicted at sea” means migrants directly interdicted by the U.S. Coast Guard from vessels subject to U.S. jurisdiction or vessels without nationality, or migrants transferred to the U.S. Coast Guard.