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

Are you a parent who applied for your children and related family member to join you in the United States under the Central American Minors (CAM) Parole program but the Trump Administration ended the program before they could travel?

Photo: Adapted from Joe Piette via Flickr

If so, your children and related family members might be able to come to the U.S. under a recent court decision in a case called S.A. v. Trump.  The case re-opened the CAM program for about 2,700 people who had received conditional approval for parole before the program ended. This page provides general information on whose applications will be processed and what you need to do.

For a brochure with basic information for U.S. parents, click here.

For advocates and lawyers helping families, click here.

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 July 2019.

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?

Watch this video.

  • 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 your children and family members have not changed their contact information or had new babies, you do not need to do anything after you receive the letter. The next step is for IOM or the government to contact your children and family members in Central America to pay for and schedule medical exams. Skip to “I have questions about processing of my family’s application” below.
  • If the children and family members on your application have changed their contact information or have had new babies since you first applied for CAM, you must e-mail the government at cam@uscis.dhs.gov within 2 weeks of receiving the letter (or as soon as possible if 2 weeks have already passed):
    • If the contact information for any person on your application has changed, the government needs to know the following information for that person in order to process the application:
      • First and last name
      • A-number (You can find the child’s A-number on the first page of the letter you received from the government. It starts with A and has 9 digits.)
      • Email address
      • Phone number
      • Mailing address
  • If any person on your application has had a new baby since you filed the CAM application, the government needs to know the following information so that the child can also come to the United States:
    • The name of the new child
    • The relationship to the family member on the application
    • The new child’s date of birth

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

Watch this video.

  • If you didn’t receive the letter, find your CAM case number and look it up using this government online tool. The video above shows you how to find your CAM case number on the CAM documents you received from the government. If you can’t find your CAM case number, visit the local resettlement agency that helped you file your application.
  • 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 above 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, you should contact the CAM Hotline at (917) 410-7546, +503 2113 3539 (El Salvador), or by email info@menoresCAM.com.

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

1. Changes to 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?”.

2. Changes to the children / family members on the CAM application:

  • Will the application be processed if the child on my application is more than 21 years old now?
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.  If the child has gotten legally married, but they are not divorced or widowed, they should contact the CAM Hotline—you’ll find more information below under “Do I Need Legal Help for My CAM Application to be Processed?”.
  • Will the application be processed if the child / family member on my application had a new baby?
Yes, and the new baby may be eligible to be added on to your 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 / family member on my application does not live in the same country they were in before?
Maybe, if they live in one of the CAM countries: El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. If they are outside those countries, they may 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 / 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 allow the child / family member to travel to the United States.

If your child / family member has already arrived to the United States on CAM parole and has been deported after CAM parole expired, they do not qualify for re-opened CAM processing.

  • Will the application be processed if the child / family member on my application filed a Request for Review (RFR) of refugee status that was denied?
Yes. The RFR challenges the government’s decision to deny refugee resettlement in the United States and is separate from the CAM Parole case.
  • Will the application be processed if the child / family member on my application did not file a Request for Review (RFR) of refugee status?
Yes. The RFR challenges the government’s decision to deny refugee resettlement in the United States and is separate from the CAM Parole case.
  • Will the application be processed if the child / family member on my application no longer wants to come to the United States?
No. It is the child’s choice whether to participate in CAM Parole. If the child is not interested in coming to the United States, you do not need to participate in processing.

I have questions about processing of my family’s CAM application.

  • What can I do to speed up the process for my family?
    • If your family members in Central American have changed their contact information or if they have had new babies, you need to send this information to the government as soon as possible. If you have already updated your family’s information, or if there is no information to update, there is nothing more to do until IOM or the government contacts your family.
    • The government has informed the court that it is delayed in finalizing its contract with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the organization that does CAM application processing in Central America. Until the contract is finalized, IOM is not processing CAM cases.  In the meantime, the government may reach out to your family about scheduling medical exams and will provide you with the information necessary to do that.
    • You can start saving money for the required medical exams and plane tickets so you’ll be ready to pay for those expenses when IOM or the government contacts your family.
  • How much will processing cost?
    • Families must pay in advance for the required medical exam and plane tickets and those costs are expensive. Our understanding is that a medical exam costs approximately $240 per person.  While we do not yet know the exact price of plane tickets, in the past, the plane tickets cost between $1,000 and $1,500 per person.
  • My family was recently contacted by the U.S. Embassy for an appointment. Why?
    • The U.S. Embassies in the CAM countries (El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala) have begun contacting child applicants who are between 13 and 16 years old to be fingerprinted. These children were too young to be fingerprinted in the past, but they have now reached the age where fingerprinting is required for their CAM applications.
    • The U.S. Embassies in El Salvador and Guatemala have begun contacting some applicants for an appointment about scheduling medical exams. It is likely that for this appointment, each family member will be asked to bring their passport, 5 color photos of the applicant on a white background, and their vaccination card.
  • I filed CAM applications for several children and family members but only received a letter from the government about some of them.  Why?
    • 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.

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 the United States.
  4. The children or family members on the application are asked to do a re-interview with the government. We anticipate that a small group of children and family members may be asked to re-interview. If you are contacted for a re-interview, they should as soon as possible contact the CAM Hotline at (917) 410-7546, +503 2113 3539 (El Salvador), or by email info@menoresCAM.com.
  5. 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 June or July 2019, and the government’s online search tool says you are not eligible for processing). If so, you should contact the CAM Hotline at (917) 410-7546, +503 2113 3539 (El Salvador), or by email info@menoresCAM.com.

My child / family member traveled to the United States with CAM Parole before the program ended (between 2015 and 2017).

1. Are they 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.

2. The government said my child / family member could apply for re-parole using Form I-131. Should we 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. If the government denies your application, 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.

What happens after my children and related family members arrive in the United States? What should I be prepared for?

Once your children and related family members arrive in the United States with CAM parole, it is important that you find them an immigration lawyer immediately. CAM parole lasts for at most two years. Your children and related 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.

I have more questions about what the re-opening of the CAM Parole program means for me and my family.

If you have more questions after reading this page, the following resources are available to assist you:

  • CAM Hotline: IRAP is currently operating a hotline to answer general questions from CAM applicants affected by the re-opening of the CAM Parole program. As of September 16, 2019, the International Rescue Committee (“IRC”) will operate the hotline in collaboration with IRAP. Please note that the CAM Hotline cannot give legal advice and it may take over two weeks for a volunteer or staff to call you back.
U.S. hotline: (917) 410-7546
El Salvador hotline: +503 2113 3539
Email: info@menoresCAM.com
Tel: +503 2519 5528
WhatsApp: +503 7641 3065

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: