Update: On Nov. 9, 2017, the Department of State stopped accepting new applications for the Central American Minors (CAM) refugee program. USCIS will stop interviewing CAM cases on Jan. 31, 2018. After that date, individuals with pending applications who have not been interviewed will receive a notice with further instructions.
The decision to terminate the CAM refugee program was made as part of the U.S. government review of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for FY 2018.
The CAM program was established in 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. Individuals who were determined to be ineligible for refugee status were then considered by USCIS for the possibility of entering the United States under parole. The parole portion of the CAM program was terminated in August 2017.
Please visit the Department of State’s website for more information.
- Effective immediately, USCIS will no longer consider or offer parole under the CAM Parole program.
- USCIS published a Federal Register notice announcing the termination on August 16, 2017.
- The termination of the CAM Parole program does not affect the CAM Refugee program and its operation.
- See the CAM: Information for Parole Applicants page for additional information.
About the Program
The Central American Minors (CAM) Refugee program provides certain qualified children who are nationals of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, as well as certain family members of those children, an opportunity to apply for refugee status and possible resettlement in the United States.
Only certain parents who are lawfully present in the United States are eligible to be qualifying parents and request access to the program for their children. Each qualified child must be unmarried, under the age of 21, and a national of El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras. In certain cases, the in-country parent of the qualifying child may also qualify for access if the in-country parent is the legal spouse of the qualifying parent in the United States, as may the unmarried children of a qualifying child if also under the age of 21. See below for eligibility details.
On July 26, 2016, Department of State (DOS) and DHS announced that the CAM program would expand to include additional eligible family members when accompanied by a qualifying child:
- Son(s) and/or daughter(s) of a U.S.-based lawfully-present 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.
Beginning Nov. 15, 2016, DOS accepted applications requesting access to the program for these additional eligible family members. For more information, please see the DOS’s Central American Minors (CAM) program page.
The qualifying child in El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras must be:
- 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.
Eligible Family Members
In some cases, other eligible family members may have access, including:
- Unmarried children of the qualifying child who are under the age of 21 or in-country parents can be included as derivatives.
Parent of Qualifying Child Who is not the Qualifying Parent
This program is primarily aimed at children under the age of 21, but a parent of the qualifying child may be included if he or she:
- Is part of the same household and economic unit as the qualifying child,
- Is legally married to the qualifying parent at the time the qualifying parent files the CAM-Affidavit of Relationship (AOR), and
- Continues to be legally married to the qualifying parent at the time of admission to the U.S.
The qualifying parent may be any individual who is 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.
Parole and Deferred Action
Parolees and persons granted deferred action must have been issued parole or deferred action for a minimum of one year. For all other categories listed above, individuals who are lawfully present and in a valid status at the time of application are eligible. The time of application means the date of CAM-Affidavit of Relationship (CAM-AOR) filing.
The qualifying parent must be in one of the immigration categories listed above at the time of applying for this program and at the time of admission of the beneficiary of this program.
The qualifying parent in the United States files Form DS-7699, Affidavit of Relationship (AOR) for Minors Who Are Nationals of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras (CAM-AOR). This form can only be accessed and completed with the assistance of a designated resettlement agency (RA). For additional information and a listing of resettlement agencies where the CAM-AOR may be filed please visit the Department of State, Refugee Processing Center’s website.
There is no fee to participate in this refugee program and it is prohibited for anyone to charge a fee for completion of the form.
DNA relationship testing must occur between all claimed biological relationships. The parent in the United States will pay the initial costs of DNA testing and will be reimbursed for testing costs ONLY if ALL claimed and tested biological relationships are confirmed by DNA test results.
Refugee status is a form of protection available to those who meet the definition of refugee and who are of special humanitarian concern to the United States. For a legal definition of refugee, see section 101(a)(42) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
Both the qualifying child and eligible family members must each establish independent refugee claims to be granted refugee status.
Eligibility for refugee status is determined on a case-by-case basis through an interview with a specially-trained USCIS officer.
For more information about refugees, see the Refugees section of our website.
Update: On Jan. 25, 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order entitled Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements. Section 11 of the order called for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to take action to ensure that parole authority under INA § 212(d)(5) is exercised only on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the plain language of the statute, and only when an individual demonstrates urgent humanitarian reasons or a significant public benefit. As of Aug. 16, 2017, the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke has terminated the Central American Minors (CAM) Parole program. Accordingly, USCIS will no longer automatically consider parole requests from individuals in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras denied refugee status under the CAM Parole program.