Information regarding the Central American Minors (CAM) program and its 2021 restart:
The Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) and the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) jointly established the Central American Minors (CAM) program in December 2014 to provide certain minors in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras the opportunity to be considered, while still in their home country, for refugee resettlement in the United States. To access the program, a parent physically present in the United States with lawful status could submit an Affidavit of Relationship to PRM’s Refugee Processing Center at a resettlement agency for his/her child. Next, the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) Resettlement Support Center in Latin America screened and prepared applicants for a refugee interview with USCIS. USCIS would consider those individuals it determined ineligible for refugee status for the possibility of admission to the United States under parole.
In November 2016, CAM was expanded to allow additional categories of applicants when these family members accompanied a qualifying child. In November 2017, under a policy change in the previous administration, the Department of State stopped accepting new applications for CAM, and USCIS ceased interviewing CAM cases in January 2018.
On March 10, 2021, following President Biden’s Executive Order 14010, “Creating a Comprehensive Regional Framework to Address the Causes of Migration, to Manage Migration Throughout North and Central America, and to Provide Safe and Orderly Processing of Asylum Seekers at the United States Border,” the Department of State announced that the United States will restart CAM in a two-phased process to provide lawful pathways for protection in the United States. Phase One will reopen and process previously closed cases, while Phase Two will accept new applications for processing.
CAM’s termination resulted in the closure of all cases that had not participated in a refugee interview prior to the program’s termination date of January 31, 2018. During Phase One of the 2021 CAM restart, these previous cases will be eligible for reopening; an application that met eligibility requirements at the time of filing will remain valid for the purpose of current adjudication during Phase One. PRM and USCIS have identified all eligible applications and will coordinate with the U.S.-based resettlement agencies, which will then contact the qualifying parent who submitted an application to verify that the eligible parent is still in the United States and wishes to reopen the case. Once a parent has confirmed the desire to reopen the case, PRM will work with its IOM-run Resettlement Support Center in El Salvador which will then begin to contact the children in Central America to prepare them for screening requirements and eventual USCIS interviews.
Categories of Eligibility and Who May Submit an Application
During Phase One, no new applications will be accepted. Only previously submitted applications that were closed before participating in a USCIS refugee interview will be considered for reopening. Under the previous version of CAM, qualifying parents were able to apply for qualifying children that met the following definitions:
The qualifying parent was any individual who, at the time of application, was at least 18 years old and lawfully present in the United States in one of the following categories:
- Permanent Resident Status,
- Temporary Protected Status,
- Deferred Action,
- Deferred Enforced Departure, or
- Withholding of Removal.
The qualifying child in El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras, at the time of application must have been:
- The child (genetic, step or legally adopted) of the qualifying parent
- Under the age of 21, and
- A national of El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras.
Note: Qualifying children who have reached the age of 21 after a qualifying parent submitted an application prior to November 9, 2017, may still be considered eligible for the purposes of current adjudication if he/she remains unmarried.
On July 26, 2016, PRM and USCIS announced that the CAM program would expand to include additional eligible family members and from November 15, 2016, until November 9, 2017 allowed the following categories to be considered when accompanied by a qualifying child:
- Son(s) and/or daughter(s) of a qualifying parent who are married and/or over 21 years old;
- The in-country biological parent of the qualifying child; and
- Caregiver of a qualifying child who is either related to the U.S.-based qualifying parent or qualifying child.
All of these expanded category relatives must independently establish that they qualify as a refugee.
After processing of the previously closed applications has begun, the program will begin to accept new applications. Details on the application process and any potential expansion of categories of eligibility will be provided on this website as those updates become available.