HAITIAN AND CUBAN FAMILY REUNIFICATION PAROLE PROGRAM

On December 18, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published two Federal Register notices. These notices relate to the Haitian Family Reunification Parole (HFRP) Program and the Cuban Family Reunification Parole (CFRP) Program. Please see specifics regarding both programs identified below.

HFRP Program:  On October 17, 2014, USCIS announced that it would begin preparatory work to implement a HFRP Program in early 2015. The purpose of the HFRP Program is to expedite family reunification for certain Haitian family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs). By expanding existing legal means for Haitians to immigrate, the HFRP Program serves a significant public benefit by promoting safe, legal and orderly migration from Haiti to the United States.  In addition, it supports U.S. goals for Haiti’s long-term reconstruction and development.

On December 18, USCIS published a Federal Register notice establishing the HFRP Program. This program will allow certain eligible Haitian beneficiaries of family-based immigrant visa petitions approved on or before December 18, 2014, who are currently in Haiti, to be paroled into the United States up to approximately two years before their immigrant visa priority dates become current. Once paroled into the U.S., these beneficiaries will be able to apply for work permits while waiting for their immigrant visas to become available. Once their visa is available, they can apply for LPR status.

On or after February 2, 2015, the U.S. Department of State National Visa Center will begin sending invitations to eligible petitioners to apply for the HFRP Program on behalf of their family members. The invitation that is sent to eligible U.S. petitioners will provide instructions on how to file the Form I-131,Application for Travel Document, and submit the required fee or fee waiver request to apply.

 CFRP Program: In 2007, USCIS announced the CFRP Program in support of the U.S. Government’s commitment under the U.S.-Cuba Migration Accords to ensure the legal migration to the United States of a minimum of 20,000 Cubans annually. Under the CFRP Program, USCIS offers certain beneficiaries of approved family-based immigrant visa petitions the opportunity to be paroled into the United States to apply for lawful permanent resident status, rather than remain in Cuba waiting for their immigrant visas to become available. The purpose of the program is to expedite family reunification through safe, legal, and orderly channels of migration to the United States and to discourage irregular and inherently dangerous maritime migration.

On December 18, USCIS published a Federal Register Notice announcing changes to this program that will require invited petitioners to file a Form I-131,Application for Travel Document, and submit the required fee or fee waiver request to have their beneficiary considered for parole under the CFRP Program in the future. These changes bring parole requests under the CFRP Program in line with most other parole requests filed on behalf of individuals outside the United States, including parole requests under the HFRP Program.

USCIS will “grandfather” cases that were already in process prior to December 18, 2014. In addition, USCIS will “grandfather” cases filed by petitioners who received a program eligibility notice from the NVC at any time prior to December 18, 2014, and who submitted to the NVC before February 17, 2015, complete documentation necessary to apply for the CFRP Program. These “grandfathered” cases will not be subject to the new filing requirements, i.e., the submission of Form I-131 with the required fee or a fee waiver request. A complete application package will be grandfathered only if the required documentation is postmarked before February 17, 2015.

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