Central American Minors (CAM): Restarting Program for Certain Applicants

If your family applied for the Central American Minors (CAM) Parole program but did not travel before the Trump Administration ended the program, you may be eligible to travel now under a 2019 court settlement.

Photo: Adapted from Joe Piette via Flickr

A settlement in the case S.A. v. Trump re-opened the CAM program for about 2,700 people who had been conditionally approved for parole before the program ended. This page provides general information about who is eligible and application processing. 

The International Refugee Assistance Project (“IRAP”) provides free legal help to refugees and displaced people. IRAP is not part of the U.S. government or IOM. This guide provides general information and is not meant as legal advice for individual applicants. This information was revised in March 2020.

Latest Updates on CAM Application Processing
Last updated April 2020
For more information about these updates, scroll to the dropdown menus below.
  • Coronavirus / Covid-19: We are closely monitoring the impact of coronavirus / Covid-19 on CAM processing. Our understanding is that as a result of airport closures, quarantines, and curfews in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, medical exams are not being scheduled and flights from Central America to the United States are currently cancelled.
  • Families whose medical exams expire due to coronavirus-related travel restrictions will not be required to pay for repeat medical exams as a result of a generous donation from the Shapiro Foundation.
  • President Trump’s April 22, 2020 immigration ban does NOT affect CAM families. The Executive Order says it does not apply to people – including CAM parolees – who receive travel documents other than a visa. Exec. Order, Sec. 2(a)(iii).
  • All families eligible for CAM processing should have received a letter from the government in Summer 2019. If you did not or you have questions, keep reading below.
  • Many eligible families have received information from the government about next processing steps, but many other families are still waiting for information.
  • Hundreds of CAM beneficiaries have been approved and have traveled to the United States.
    • ** NEW: All flights for CAM beneficiaries approved to travel to the United States are free, thanks to a generous new program led by United Airlines, the Shapiro Foundation, and other US donors. **
    • ** NEW: If you traveled before January 28, 2020, check the immigration stamp you received. Due to a government error, you may have received less than 2 years of parole. The government says it has fixed this error electronically. Read below for more information. **
    • By June 2020, this page will post pamphlets with community resources in the United States for recently-arrived CAM parolees.
  • You should call the CAM hotline (number below) immediately if:
    • You were told that your case is being “administratively” closed.
    • You were contacted about being “re-interviewed.”
  • For advocates & lawyers, the most recent government report to the court on CAM processing is here.

 

CAM Hotline:  the International Rescue Committee (“IRC”) operates a hotline in collaboration with IRAP to answer general questions from CAM families affected by the reopening of the CAM Parole program. Please note that the CAM Hotline cannot give legal advice and you must leave a message to get a call back.

U.S. hotline: (917) 410-7546
El Salvador hotline: +503 2113 3539
Email: info@menoresCAM.com

 Adelante, CIMITRA: the Centro de integración para migrantes, trabajadores y trabajadoras (CIMITRA), a San Salvador-based non-governmental organization, is collaborating with IRAP to provide information and support to CAM beneficiaries in Central America to help them navigate the CAM process.

Tel: +503 2519 5528

WhatsApp: +503 7641 3065

Website: adelantecimitra.org

If you’re a child or family member in Central America…

  • Here are brochures about application processing in your country: El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala (brochure coming soon).
  • If you’re approved to travel to the U.S., here is information about what to pack and what to expect at the airport.

If you’re a U.S.-based parent, here is a brochure about the CAM program.

For advocates and lawyers helping CAM families, click here.

Beneficiaries approved to travel to the U.S. as CAM parolees will fly free.

If your case is approved to travel to the United States, IOM will contact you to arrange a date for your flight to the United States.  You will be asked to travel to the capital city of your country the day before your flight and to stay overnight at a hotel.  All your travel-related expenses, including your flights, hotel accommodation the night before the flight, transfer from the hotel to the airport, and flight escort for minors traveling without an adult, will be paid for by the generous new program led by United Airlines, The Shapiro Foundation, and other US donors.

IOM is refunding flight expenses for families that paid for flights before the new program began.  If you paid for flights and have not received a refund, please contact IOM (phone numbers for each country below):

  • El Salvador: +503-2521-0500 option 1
  • Honduras: +504 2237-7460 option 2
  • Guatemala: +502 2414-7401 ext. 7409
  • By email: iomsalsvcamparole@iom.int

I received a letter from the government about CAM in June or July 2019. What do I need to do for my application to be processed?

  • Your application will be processed if you received a letter from the government in June or July 2019 that says “Notice of Re-opening and Continued Processing for the Central American Minors Parole Program” and looks like this.
  • If children and family members in Central America have not changed their contact information or had new babies, the family does not need to do anything after receiving the letter. The next step is for IOM or the government to contact the children and family members in Central America with information about next processing steps.
    • If you are still waiting to hear from IOM, note that because of the large number of cases reopened under the settlement, the government and IOM have not yet contacted many applicants.
    • If the children or family members have an urgent need to travel (for example, for medical or safety reasons), contact Adelante CIMITRA: Tel: +503 2519 5528; WhatsApp: +503 7641 3065.
  • If children and family members have changed their contact information or had new babies since applying to the CAM program, as soon as possible call or email IOM (phone numbers for each country below):
    • El Salvador: + 503 2521 0500 option 1
    • Honduras: + 504 2237 7460 option 2
    • Guatemala: + 502 2414 7401 ext. 7409
    • By email: iomsalsvcamparole@iom.int
  • In the past, you may have contacted the government at a different email address (cam@uscis.dhs.gov), and if so, the government may ask you to resend your information to IOM using the email or phone numbers above. If you are asked to resend your information or if you have not received a response to an email you sent to cam@uscis.dhs.gov, please contact IOM.
  • What if you filed CAM applications for several children and family members but only received a letter from the government about some of them?
    • It’s possible that only some of your children and family members are eligible for CAM processing now. You can verify which children and family members are eligible by inputting each person’s CAM case number into the government’s online search tool on this webpage. Watch this Spanish-language video for step-by-step instructions about how to use the tool.
  • What if I received the letter but my family filed a Request for Review (RFR) of refugee status that was denied?
    • The application will still be processed. The RFR challenges the government’s decision to deny refugee resettlement in the United States and is separate from the CAM Parole case.
  • What if I received the letter but my family did not file a Request for Review (RFR) of refugee status?
    • The application will still be processed. The RFR challenges the government’s decision to deny refugee resettlement in the United States and is separate from the CAM Parole case.
  • What if the children or family members no longer want to come to the United States?
    • It is the child or family member’s choice whether to participate in CAM Parole. If they are not interested in coming to the United States, they do not need to participate in processing.

I did not receive a letter from the government about this. Will my application be processed under the court decision?

  • If the U.S. parent didn’t receive the letter, find your CAM case number and look it up using this government online tool. This video shows you how to find your CAM case number on the CAM documents you received from the government in the past. If you can’t find your CAM case number, visit the local resettlement agency that helped you file your application for assistance.
  • If the government’s search tool says that you qualify for processing and the U.S. parent still has lawful status in the United States, e-mail the government at cam@uscis.dhs.gov to let them know that you did not receive the letter, but the online search tool says that your family is eligible for CAM processing. The video at the top explains how to do this.  The government will also likely ask you to update your address using this form.
  • If the government’s search tool says that you do not qualify for processing, it is because the government believes your children and related family members had not received conditional approval for parole at the time the program ended. You may be able to show that the government is wrong if you have a copy of a letter from the government with the words NOTICEOF ELIGIBILITY FOR PAROLE on the last or second to last page or a letter with the words NOTICE OF RESCISSION OF CONDITIONAL APPROVAL dated on or after August 2017 (you can see examples here).
  • If you believe the government is wrong about your case or you need assistance, call the CAM Hotline at (917) 410-7546, +503 2113 3539 (El Salvador).

How will changes to my family affect processing of my CAM Parole application under the court decision?

If you are the U.S. parent who filed the CAM application:

  • Will the application be processed if I no longer have legal status in the U.S.?

No. The U.S. parent must have lawful status for the CAM application to be processed. Lawful status includes Temporary Protected Status (TPS), Lawful Permanent Resident Status (LPR), Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Deferred Action (non-DACA), Deferred Enforced Departure, Withholding of Removal, and Parolee.

  • Will the application be processed if I was arrested or convicted of a crime after I filed the CAM application?
Maybe.  It is possible that an arrest or conviction affected your lawful status in the United States, and thus your family’s eligibility for CAM processing.  We recommend that you speak with an immigration attorney about the effect of any arrest or conviction on your lawful status.  You can find an attorney in your area using this link: immi.org/es.
  • Will the application be processed if I received a letter that says Request for Evidence?
Maybe. If you received a letter from the government that says “Notice of Re-opening and Continued Processing for the Central American Minors Parole Program and Request for Evidence,” which looks like this, it means the government believes that you no longer have lawful status in the United States. The government might be wrong. If you received this letter, find contact information for lawyers under “Do I Need Legal Help for My CAM Application to be Processed?”.

If you are a beneficiary (child or family member) in Central America:

  • Will a child’s application be processed if the child is now over 21 years old?
Yes, so long as the child’s CAM application was conditionally approved.
  • Will the application be processed if the child on my application has gotten married?
No. If your child has gotten legally married, the child is not eligible for CAM parole. However, if the child is living together with another person but is not legally married, the application will still be processed. You can find country-specific information in these packets: EL Salvador; Honduras; Guatemala (links forthcoming). If you have additional questions after reading the pamphlets, call the CAM hotline.
  • Will the application be processed if the child or family member on my application had a new baby?
Yes, and the new baby may be eligible to be added on to the CAM case. Tell the government about the new baby.  This Spanish-language video has information about how to send updated information about new babies to the government.
  • Will the application be processed if the child or family member does not live in the same country they were in before?
Maybe, if the beneficiary lives in one of the CAM countries: El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. If they are outside those countries, they can return to one of the CAM countries to be processed. If they are outside the countries, they may want to consult a lawyer to discuss their best options for reuniting in the United States. You can find contact information for lawyers under “Do I Need Legal Help for My CAM Application to be Processed?”.
  • Will the application be processed if the child or family member on my application has been deported from the United States?

Maybe. Being deported from the United States in the past does not automatically disqualify your CAM application. Prior deportation may, however, be considered by the government in deciding whether to approve the child or family member to travel to the United States.

The government asked me to do a re-interview. What should I expect?

Some beneficiaries may be contacted for a re-interview with the government. If you or your family is contacted about a re-interview, please call the CAM hotline as soon as possible:

      • U.S. hotline: (917) 410-7546
      • El Salvador hotline: +503 2113 3539

Children and family members in Central America should also contact the CAM Hotline for assistance if you have been arrested for or convicted of a crime, or if you previously entered the United States, were stopped by immigration officials, and were required to leave the United States.

The CAM Hotline, working with IRAP, may be able to connect you with a lawyer to help you prepare for your re-interview.

I have questions about application processing steps, including medical exams.

    • IOM in Central America is contacting eligible families with information about next processing steps.
    • All CAM beneficiaries must complete a medical exam, even if you completed an exam in the past before the CAM program was terminated. The exam must be conducted by a U.S.-government approved physician.
    • This is the process:
      • IOM will contact the U.S.-based parent to pay for the medical exam (using bank check, money order, or Visa or Mastercard credit card). If you are having trouble paying for the exam, tell that to IOM.
      • IOM will provide the children or family members with the date and clinic address for the medical exam.
      • Costs for the medical exam vary by country of residence and beneficiary age. These are the estimated costs for cases where no follow up is needed:
        • El Salvador: $260 for adults; $145 for children, $65 for infants
        • Honduras: $160 for adults; $150 for children; $65 for infants
        • Guatemala: $245 for adults; $200 for children; $90 for infants
      • The medical exam looks at whether there are any health-related reasons why you should not be allowed to enter the United States, such as having a communicable disease, not receiving important vaccinations, having a physical or mental disorder associated with harmful behavior, or being a drug abuser or drug addict.
      • During the exam, the doctor will do tests to determine whether you have any medical conditions. The doctor will also note whether you have any tattoos or scars. And, the doctor will perform a drug test and may ask whether you use drugs, marijuana, or alcohol. If you have questions in advance of your medical exam, call the CAM Hotline.
      • The doctor will likely ask you about any vaccinations you have had in the past. If you have records of your past vaccinations, you should bring those records to your medical exam to avoid having to pay for repeat vaccinations.
      • If the doctor decides you need follow up medical tests, you may need to pay additional fees and make another appointment. IOM will contact your family with more information.
      • If you previously received information from the U.S. Embassy about how to schedule a medical exam and you are confused, call IOM for assistance:
        • El Salvador: +503-2521-0500 option 1
        • Honduras: +504 2237-7460 option 2
        • Guatemala: +502 2414-7401 ext. 7409
    • Your medical exam results will be sent to IOM and the government. The government will determine whether you have cleared your medical exam and your security checks.
    • What happens after your medical exam?
      • You may be contacted for a re-interview with the government. If so, contact the CAM Hotline as soon as possible.
      • If you clear your medical exam and security checks, IOM will contact you to arrange your travel to the United States. As discussed above, your flight and other travel costs are free.
      • Medical exam results are generally valid for 6 months. *If your medical exams expire because of coronavirus-related travel restrictions, you will not be required to pay for repeat medical exams as a result of a generous donation from The Shapiro Foundation.*

I have been approved to travel to the United States. What next?

    • Read this Arrivals Guide for more information about what to pack in your carry-on luggage and what to expect at the airport.
    • To travel, you will need a passport, and if you are a child you may need additional documents, to leave your country. You can find more country-specific information here: El Salvador; Honduras; Guatemala (brochure coming soon). If you have additional questions, the Salvadoran non-profit organization CIMITRA may be able to help you: +503 2519 5528 / +503 7641 3065.
    • Keep in mind that on the date you travel, your medical exam results must still be valid and your U.S.-based parent must continue to have legal status in the United States.

Do I need to find a lawyer to help me with the processing of my CAM Parole application under the court decision?

In most cases, no. The majority of applicants should not need legal help with the processing of their CAM parole applications because the remaining processing steps should only involve medical checks, security checks, and flight scheduling.However, you should contact an immigration lawyer in your area in the following situations. You can use this resource to find an immigration lawyer.

      1. The U.S. parent received a letter from the government that says “Notice of Re-opening and Continued Processing for the Central American Minors Parole Program and Request for Evidence,” which looks like this. A small group of parents received this letter, which means that the government believes that the U.S. parent no longer has lawful status in the United States. The U.S. parent should contact a lawyer before taking any further action on the CAM case.
      2. The U.S. parent has been arrested or convicted of a crime since filing the CAM application. The U.S. parent should contact a lawyer to make sure that they still have lawful status in the United States.
      3. The children on the application are no longer in El Salvador, Honduras, or Guatemala. They should contact a lawyer to understand their best options for coming to or remaining in the United States.

Also, if you encounter any of the processing issues below, you should call the CAM Hotline: (917) 410-7546, +503 2113 3539 (El Salvador).

      1. If the children or family members on the application are asked to do a re-interview with the government, call the CAM hotline ASAP. They may be able to connect you with a lawyer to help you prepare in advance for your re-interview.
      2. If the children or family members in Central America have been arrested for or convicted of a crime, or if they previously entered the United States, were stopped by immigration officials, and were required to leave the United States.
      3. You were conditionally approved for parole but the government does not think you are eligible for CAM processing now (you did not receive a letter in Summer 2019, and the government’s online search tool says you are not eligible for processing).
      4. You received a letter saying that your CAM application is being “administratively” closed.

Important steps to take after your arrival in the United States.

  • Check the stamp you received from immigration officials that says how long your CAM parole lasts. You can see an example of the CBP stamp in this Arrivals Guide. Does the stamp say your parole lasts for less than 2 years?
  • Due to an error, the government granted only 1 year of parole to all or nearly all CAM parolees who entered the United States under the court settlement before January 28, 2020. These CAM parolees should have received 2 years of parole. The government says it has now fixed the error in its electronic system, which means that all parolees affected by the error have been granted 2 years of parole from the date they entered the United States. If you were affected by the error, you should receive a letter from the government explaining what happened and there is nothing more you need to do. If you would like proof of the date your parole ends, you can get an electronic copy of Form I-94 at this government website.
    • If you have any questions, call the CAM Hotline: (917) 410-7546.
  • CAM parolees who entered the U.S. on or after January 28, 2020 should be granted 2 years of parole in nearly all cases. If you received less than 2 years of parole on or after January 28, 2020, please contact the CAM Hotline: (917) 410-7546.
  • Once children and family members arrive in the United States with CAM parole, it is important that they speak with an immigration lawyer as soon as possible.
    • CAM parole generally lasts for two years. Children and family members may be able to apply for more permanent immigration relief, but there may be deadlines for filing that apply soon after arrival. For example, asylum applications should generally be filed within one year of arrival to the United States.
    • If CAM parolees want to work in the United States, they must apply for work authorization, and an immigration attorney can help you.
      • Here is the information the government provided about parolee work authorization in the Summer 2019 letters about CAM parole processing under the court settlement: “Parolees do not automatically receive permission to work in the United States. If you would like to work while in the United States as a parolee, you may apply for a work permit by filing Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, with the required documentation and either the applicable filing fee or a Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver. Select category c(11) – ‘Paroled in the Public Interest’ on your Form I-765 application. If your Form I-765 is approved, you will receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) valid up to the expiration date of your parole. If you want to continue to work in the United States after that expiration date, you must be approved for re-parole and then must file Form I-765 again, with the applicable filing fee or fee waiver request.”
      • Despite this guidance, the Trump Administration has said that it may limit parolee eligibility for employment authorization at some point in the future. If you are interested in working in the United States, you may want to apply for a work permit as soon as possible.
  • You may be asked by potential employers or others for your “admission information” or your Form I-94. This is a government document that shows the dates your CAM parole started and ends. You can get an electronic copy of your Form I-94 (or the form for another person with their consent) at this government website.
  • By June 2020, IRAP will post brochures with information about community resources for CAM parolees in several regions of the United States. Check back soon!

For CAM Parolees who traveled to the US in 2017 or earlier--before the CAM program ended:

  • I came to the United States as a CAM parolee in 2015, 2016, or 2017. Am I eligible for CAM processing now?
    • No. The court case only helps people who are still in Central America because they were not able to travel to the United States before the CAM Parole program ended.
    • If your family member traveled to the United States with CAM Parole in the past, their CAM Parole has likely already expired. They should contact an immigration attorney to discuss their legal options. You can find low cost immigration attorneys in your area using this website: immi.org/es. Immi.org also has an online quiz to help your family member understand their legal options: https://www.immi.org/es/home/prescreening.
  • The government said I could apply for re-parole using Form I-131. Should I do that?
      • You should speak with an immigration attorney about your individual case before taking any action. You can find a low-cost immigration attorney in your area using this website: immi.org/es.
      • Even if you apply for re-parole using Form I-131, the government may deny your application or grant you parole for only a few months. You may receive a letter granting “Limited Parole to Depart the United States”—specifically, parole to the date of the decision letter plus 90 days to give the person time to leave the U.S. or seek lawful immigration status. Failure to depart as required by the letter could result in the accrual of unlawful presence, being placed in removal proceedings, and/or being barred from future U.S. immigration benefits.

I have general questions about the CAM program and the court decision that re-opened the program.

Background:

The CAM program allowed children in danger in Central America to reunite with their parents who were lawfully in the United States. The program began in 2014 in response to increasing numbers of Central American children making the long, dangerous land journey to the U.S. border. The government processed CAM applicants in their home countries, and children and family members who were approved traveled by plane to the United States. CAM applicants could be resettled as refugees or granted temporary humanitarian parole into the United States, and by the end of 2016, approximately 3,000 people had traveled to the United States through CAM.

In August 2017, the Trump Administration shut down the parole portion of the CAM program–even for 2,714 children and family members who had already been conditionally approved by the government and were in final stages of processing (some had already bought plane tickets).

Case History: