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Q:  What is the Central American Minors (CAM) Program?

The CAM Program was started in 2014 to give at-risk children in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras the opportunity to come to the United States as refugees.  More information on the history of the program is available here .

On March 10, 2021, the Departments of State and Homeland Security announced the reopening of the CAM Program in two stages.

The first stage began on March 15, 2021, and made eligible for reopening cases that were closed without receiving an interview. During this stage, U.S.-based resettlement agencies began contacting families whose applications were closed after January 31, 2018, to give them the chance to reopen their cases.

On June 15, 2021, the U.S. government announced the second stage, expanding eligibility and providing new information about the application process.

Most recently, on April 11, 2023, the Departments of State and Homeland Security published a Federal Register Notice to detail additional program enhancements, including an upcoming eligibility expansion.

Q: Who can apply for the program?

At this time, you may be eligible to apply if you are a parent or legal guardian who is:

  • at least 18 years of age; and
  • legally present in the United States in any of the following categories (permanent resident status, temporary protected status, parole (for a minimum of one year), deferred action (for a minimum of one year), deferred enforced departure, or withholding of removal) or
  • have either a pending Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, or a Form I-918, Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status, filed prior to May 15, 2021.

Q: What expansion did the April 2023 Federal Register Notice include?

A: The recent Federal Register Notice announced that the U.S. Government will soon update current eligibility to amend the date by which you must have filed a pending I-589 or I-918 from May 15, 2021, to April 11, 2023. Eligibility will also extend to parents or legal guardians in the United States who have a pending Form I-914, Application for T Nonimmigrant Status.

Q: When will those changes take place?

A: In order to accept applications under the planned expanded eligibility, the U.S. Government is currently amending the Affidavit of Relationship form in compliance with federal laws and requirements for collecting personal information. For the most current information, you may refer to this page for updates.

Q: Who can I file an application for?

You can file an application for your “qualifying child,” meaning your unmarried son(s) and/or daughter(s) under the age of 21, who are currently in El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras.

Q: Can I file for my stepchild/adopted child?

Yes. You will need to prove the legal relationship. Specific details are included in the instruction portion of the application form.

Q: Are there other people that can be included on the application?

Yes, but they need to have their own approved refugee claim. If they are with your qualifying child, you can include:

  • Siblings of the qualifying child regardless of age or marital status;
  • The other birth parent of your qualifying child;
  • A caregiver of your qualifying child who is related to you or the child.

Q: How can I submit an application?

If you believe that you are eligible, you may file a DS-7699 (Affidavit of Relationship form) at a designated resettlement agency in the United States. The current DS-7699 was approved for use in June 2021; we anticipate that the updated DS-7699 that includes the recently expanded categories of eligibility to be approved in fall 2023.

Q: Is there an application fee?

No, there is no fee to apply for CAM, and no one may charge you to complete the DS-7699.  If you are contacted by anyone who requests money from you or your qualifying relatives, please report the incident to

Q: I submitted an application for my child before November 2017 and received a letter that my case had been closed. Can my case be reopened now?

If you submitted an application at a resettlement agency in the United States and your case was closed before your child received a refugee interview, you may be eligible to reopen your case.

Q:  I was not contacted in 2021 but I believe my case is still eligible to reopen. Is that possible?

Yes. Resettlement Agencies attempted to contact eligible families in the United States throughout 2021 and into 2022 but were not able to make contact with everyone.  If you believe that you were not contacted because the contact information you previously provided to the Resettlement Agency has changed, you may still contact the Resettlement Agency with your updated contact information.

Q:  What if the resettlement agency where I filed my application has since closed, or I don’t know how to contact that agency?

If that resettlement agency office has closed, your case has been transferred to another office of the agency which will contact you.

Q:  How are cases processed?

After your case is opened (or reopened), your application goes to the Resettlement Support Center (RSC) Latin America, staffed by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), with offices in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.  The RSC will contact your qualifying child and/or family member(s) for further processing.  Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials will interview your eligible family members to determine who will be admitted as a refugee into the United States.  Those granted refugee status will undergo a medical exam, security checks, and cultural orientation, and the RSC will assist with travel arrangements to the city where the qualifying parent in the U.S. resides.  Cases that are denied refugee status will be considered on a case by case basis for parole.  Those who receive parole authorization must coordinate their travel arrangements with IOM and will be responsible for the costs of the medical exam and travel.

Q:  How long does the process take?

The process can take 6-12 months on average.

Q:  I am now a U.S. Citizen.  Can I still reopen my case/submit an application? 

No. If you are a naturalized U.S. citizen, you may petition for certain relatives by submitting a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, to USCIS.  More information is available here .

Q:  My own asylum application was approved.  Can I reopen my case/submit an application? 

No. If you were granted asylum in the last two years, you are eligible to apply for your spouse and unmarried children to come to the United States through the Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition .  If you were granted asylum and have adjusted to Lawful Permanent Resident status (LPR, or “green card”) you may reopen your case, but as an LPR you may have additional options to petition for an immigrant visa  for your child.

Q:  My child is already in the United States.  Can he/she be processed for refugee status here?

No, refugee status determinations are made outside of the United States.  All of the processing for CAM, including interviews, occurs only in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

Q:  How does the government decide if my child qualifies as a refugee?

An individual may be considered for admission to the United States as a refugee if he or she:

  • Is located outside of the United States;
  • Is of special humanitarian concern to the United States;
  • Demonstrates that he or she was persecuted or fears persecution due to race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group;
  • Is not firmly resettled in another country; and
  • Is admissible to the United States

Eligibility for refugee status is determined on a case-by-case basis through an interview with a USCIS refugee officer.

Q:  What happens if the officer determines my child is not a refugee?

Applicants who receive access to the program but are found ineligible for refugee status will be considered by USCIS on a case-by-case basis for parole into the United States.

Q:  What happens if my child is forwarded for further parole processing?

Applicants forwarded for further parole processing will have a medical exam, conducted at their expense, and scheduled by IOM.  They must also coordinate travel arrangements, at their expense, with IOM.

Q:  What is the difference between refugee status and parole?

Refugees may remain in the United States indefinitely.  After one year they must adjust to Lawful Permanent Resident status and may eventually apply for United States citizenship if they choose.

Parole allows an individual, who may be inadmissible or otherwise ineligible for a visa, refugee, or other immigration status, to come to and temporarily stay in the United States for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.  Parole allows an individual to be lawfully present in the United States temporarily and to apply for work authorization.  Although a parolee is lawfully present in the United States for the time period authorized, parole is by nature temporary and does not confer or lead to legal immigration status in the United States.  Parole is authorized for a specified duration of time.  An individual paroled into the United States may request an additional period of parole (also referred to as “re-parole”) in the future to remain in the United States by filing a Form I-131, Application for Travel Document.

Prior to travel to the United States, refugees are eligible for a travel loan, but parolees must pay for their own flight to the United States.  In addition, those granted refugee status will receive resettlement assistance once in the United States.  Parolees are generally not eligible for resettlement assistance in the United States.

Q:  What are the immigration benefits of refugee and parole?

Refugees must apply for adjustment of status to Lawful Permanent Resident status after one year and may apply for citizenship after five years.  Parole is temporary and does not confer any immigration status or a pathway to a permanent status.  Parolees under this program will generally be authorized parole for a period of three years after which they may apply for re-parole to remain in the United States.

DNA Testing Requirement and Costs

Q:  Who will be required to provide DNA to gain access to the CAM Program? 

The State Department requires DNA testing between the qualifying parent in the United States and each of his or her biological children listed in the DS-7699, Affidavit of Relationship.  DNA relationship testing will also be required for all family members gaining access to the CAM Program via a qualifying child.

DNA relationship testing will occur to verify the relationships between the qualifying parent in the United States and his/her biological children, both the minor and unmarried qualifying child and the married and/or age 21 or older children.  DNA relationship testing will also occur to verify the relationship between the biological in-country parent and the qualifying child, if the parent is not legally married to the qualifying parent in the United States.  DNA relationship testing will also occur to verify the relationship between the caregiver and either the qualifying parent in the United States or in-country parent if the relationship can be verified through DNA (e.g., biological grandparent of the qualifying child).

Q:  Why is DNA testing required for access to this program?

In order to ensure that the CAM Program reunites families, DNA testing is required to verify that relationships stated on the DS-7699 Affidavit of Relationship form are biological ones.

Q: Can my child be interviewed before we submit our DNA testing?

A: Unfortunately, no.  All applications based upon a biological relationship requires that DNA results be received prior to a refugee interview with USCIS.  

Q:  Is DNA testing required for adoptive children?  

Legally adopted children can be claimed on the DS-7699 Affidavit of Relationship, and DNA testing is not required.

Parents should indicate on the Form-7699 Affidavit of Relationship whether the child is an adopted child.   Parents should explain the relationship with any non-biological children in detail in the comments area.  For adopted children, the parent should explain when the child was legally adopted, provide legal documentation of the adoption, and indicate how long the child lived with the parent.

Q:  Who pays for the cost of DNA testing? 

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) will pay the costs of DNA testing. In certain cases where the U.S.-based qualifying parent or legal guardian is compelled to pay, IOM will reimburse the U.S.-based qualifying parent the cost of testing.

Q:  Will DNA be required for all qualifying parents and children, or will it be random?

DNA testing will be required for all of a qualifying parent’s claimed biological children.

Q:  Will DNA testing be required only for certain nationalities?

No, the DNA testing requirement applies to all nationalities applying to the CAM Program.

Q:  Which labs in the U.S. and overseas are authorized to perform the DNA testing? 

Any accredited AABB lab.  This list can be found on the AABB website. 

Q:  How long will DNA test results be valid? 


Q:  Who will be notified of DNA results? 

The qualifying parent will receive the DNA results directly from the lab.  A copy of the results will also be sent to the State Department for further processing of the case.

U.S. Department of State

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