U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has created a program to allow certain citizens of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Colombia, Cuba, and Haiti to be reunited with their family members in the United States while they wait for a green card to become available. This program is called Family Reunification Parole (FRP).
Who Can Benefit from Family Reunification Parole?
FRP is available to citizens of the above countries who are already beneficiaries of an I-130 petition filed by certain U.S. citizen (USC) or lawful permanent resident (LPR) relatives. An I-130 petition is the first step in the green card application process and is filed by the USC or LPR family member. Once the petition is approved, there may be a wait for a green card to become available, depending on the family relationship involved and the country of citizenship. Certain people will have wait times of more than 20 years for a green card. In light of this extreme wait time, USCIS will allow certain citizens of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Colombia, Cuba, and Haiti to apply to come to the United States while they wait for their green card to become available. Importantly, if a beneficiary from one of the qualifying countries has a spouse or child who is not a citizen of that country, it is possible they may be included in an application as well. However, please note that FRP is only available to applicants who are outside the United States.
What Benefits Does This Program Provide?
People who are invited into FRP can be paroled into the United States for up to three years while they wait for their green card. Additionally, they will be eligible to apply for a work permit during this time. If the green card becomes available, they should be able to apply for their green card from within the United States, although that may not be the case for every applicant.
How Does This Process Work?
The FRP process is initiated by USCIS, not the applicant themselves. If you are selected, USCIS will send a letter or email to the petitioning family member (i.e. the USC or LPR who is petitioning for their family member abroad), informing them that they may apply for FRP for their family member(s) abroad. This letter will be sent by the National Visa Center (NVC).
Once the invitation letter is received, the petitioning family member can file their application to request that their family member abroad be paroled into the United States. The petitioning family member will complete an online application (form I-134A) and will submit documents to prove that they are able to financially support the applicant. The applicant abroad will then have to undergo a medical exam and create a USCIS online account for themselves. The Department of Homeland Security will then determine if the applicant should be granted authorization to enter the United States, and will consider the applicant’s past immigration history, including deportations and recent illegal entries, among other factors. If the application is approved, they will be granted authorization to travel to the United States. Once they travel to the United States, they will be inspected one last time by a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agent to determine if they will be paroled into the United States.
Is There Anything I Can Do to Apply For This Benefit in Advance:
Unfortunately, it does not appear that anyone can affirmatively apply for this. The petitioning family member has to wait to receive an email or letter from the National Visa Center (NVC) inviting them to apply for FRP. This means that it is very important that you are certain the USCIS and the NVC have your current information, including your mailing address and email address. Furthermore, you can always begin gathering recent financial documents to prove your ability to support your family member if you are invited into this program.
FRP appears to be a great option for people who are facing long waits to reunite with their family members in the United States. However, it is important to keep in mind that there is no guarantee that your application will be approved, or that you will be allowed to enter the United States. This is a complicated issue, so if you would like to discuss this with an experienced attorney at MMH, feel free to call our office at 312-427-6163 to schedule an appointment.