Because the protection of children is of utmost importance, it’s critical that you seek professional legal help when applying to bring a child to the U.S. through CAM. Not all children will qualify, but your odds are significantly higher with guidance and support from a qualified immigration attorney.
At Nuñez & Associates, we’ve taken extra time and care to understand this new regulation and have helped dozens of children seek safe passage and refuge through this program. Our staff is eager to use this Act to its fullest potential and secure better conditions and travel for the children seeking to escape the conditions in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.
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In response to the overwhelming migration of children from Central America in 2014 to US borders who were likely sent by relatives or who migrated on their own to escape perilous conditions in their home countries, the Obama administration instituted a new immigration program. CAM, or Central American Minors Refugee/Parole Program. CAM was implemented to provide a safe alternative for travel to the US for minors currently residing in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador so as to discourage the exodus of these children who must travel thousands of miles on their own to the US border. Most have either been immediately deported or are in immigration limbo.
These three Central American nations have a history of gang violence, organized crime, drug wars, human trafficking and sexual violence that has led to the migration, though the influx to the US has slowed in the past year.
To be eligible for the CAM program, the minors need to meet certain criteria:
- Be unmarried and under the age of 21
- Be a national of Honduras, El Salvador or Guatemala
- Have been residing in their country of nationality
- Have a qualifying parent pursuant to the INA (Immigration and Nationality Act)
Who is a Qualifying Parent?
An otherwise eligible child must have a qualifying parent to take advantage of the CAM program. This includes any of the following parents who are at least 18 years of age:
- Permanent resident
- On temporary protected status
- On deferred action (at least one year)
- A parolee
- Deferred enforced departure
- Withholding of removal
Also, a parent of a qualifying child may also qualify so long as the following is satisfied:
- The parent is part of the same household and economic unit as the child
- He or she is married to the qualifying parent at the time the qualifying parent files the CAM and Affidavit of Relationship
- And the parent maintains lawful marriage to the qualifying parent at the time of admission or parole to the US
A qualifying parent needs to file Form DS-7699, Affidavit of Relationship for Minors Who are from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, but this can only be done in conjunction with a designated resettlement agency or RA. No application fees are required.
DNA testing is mandatory and the costs borne by the qualifying parent, though the expense is reimbursed if the relationship is confirmed.
Normally, refugee status is only considered when the applicant is outside the country of nationality though a provision of the INA does allow the President discretion to allow in-country processing if that person meets the conditions under which refugee status is found if you have a well-founded fear of persecution.
Your fear of persecution must be based upon:
- Membership in a social group, religion, nationality, ethnicity
- Political opinions
- Previous persecution
Alternatives to Denial of CAM Status
For those minors for whom refugee status is not conferred under CAM, they may still be considered for parole. This is a discretionary process and allows entry into the US on a temporary basis for urgent humanitarian reasons or for a significant public benefit.