Some children can now apply to come to the United States from their home countries, if they meet many rules, through the Central Alien Minor Program (CAM).
What does the program do?
It allows some Honduran, Guatemalan and El Salvadorian children to receive refugee or parolee status from the US government while living in their home country.
Who qualifies for the CAM program?
Children and sometimes other relatives who currently live in Honduras, Guatemala or El Salvador.
The child must have a parent currently living in the US, who is at least 18 years old. The child must be under 21 and be either the biological, step, or legally adopted child of the parent applying for him. The parent applying is the “anchor parent.”
The anchor parent must have one of these legal statues the day s/he fills out an application for the child.
- Permanent Resident Status
- Temporary Protected Status
- Parole, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
- Deferred Action (non-DACA)
- Deferred Enforced Departure
- Withholding of Removal
Other relatives the anchor parent can apply for include:
- Unmarried children of the child they are applying for;
- The other parent of the child if that parent
- lives in the same house as the child; and
- stays married to the anchor parent.
The anchor parent must have proof of the marriage when filing the application.
How long does the process take?
The program can take over a year.
How does an anchor parent apply for their family?
The US government says only certain non-profit agencies can help the anchor parent apply. The non-profit agency will help the parent submit Form DS-7699, *Affidavit of Relationship (AOR) for Minors Who Are Nationals of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. An anchor parent filling out this form is promising he is related to the people he wants to bring to the US. The process also requires DNA testing and interview(s) with a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officer.
Immigration will decide if family members receive refugee status or parole, based on the interviews.
Some people may not receive any legal status and will have to find out from a lawyer if there are any other ways to come to the US legally.
If granted refugee status, the family members have to take medical exams and learn about cultural issues in the US, to help them adapt better. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) will help the family figure out travel plans to get to the United States.
People given refugee status can get help from the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). They can also receive some government assistance for food and healthcare. Refugees can become green card holders and later citizens.
Family members denied refugee status can apply for parole. The anchor parent must send in Form 1-134. This form is called an Affidavit of Support. This means someone (a sponsor) is promising the US government to financially support the family members who come to the US. The sponsor must be an US citizen or Permanent Resident (green card holder). Relatives who want parole must take and pay for a medical clearance exam. Medical clearance just means the immigrant was tested and does not have certain illnesses. They must also arrange and pay for their own travel to the US.
Parole is a temporary status that last two years. People can continue to re-apply for this status every two years.
Are there any costs?
The family members must pay for DNA testing and travel. Also, those seeking parole must pay for the medical clearance exam.
How can I apply for the CAM Program?
If you believe you qualify for the CAM Program, contact Lutheran Family Services in the Carolinas. They are South Carolina’s only agency allowed to help.
Phone: 803-750-9917 x6137
This is not all of the information that you need to know. Speak to an attorney.
If you do not have a lawyer, the South Carolina Bar Lawyer Referral Service can give you the name of a lawyer who is willing to meet with you and advise you at a lower rate. For the name of a lawyer in your area, call the Lawyer Referral Service (800) 868-2284 statewide.
South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center is dedicated to advocacy for low-income people in South Carolina to effect systemic change by acting in and through the courts, legislature, administrative agencies, community and the media, and helping others do the same through education, training and co counseling.
To find out more about SCALJC, go to www.scjustice.org on the Internet. This brochure and others can also be found online by going to www.scjustice.org and clicking on ‘Brochures.’
Copyright retained by South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center. For permission to reproduce this brochure, contact SCALJC at P.O. Box 7187, Columbia, SC 29202.