DHS Announces Venezuela Parole Program Expansion To Cuba, Haiti and Nicaragua
Amidst the ongoing unrest at the southwestern border, the Biden administration has proposed the expansion of the Venezuela Parole Program to three additional countries of Cuba, Haiti and Nicaragua.
At the start of this year, on January 6, 2023, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced this policy shift which enables the nationals from Cuba, Haiti, and Nicaragua, along with their immediate family members, to request advance parole into the United States for a period of up to two years. Once paroled, these nationals may also apply for work authorization in the United States.
Prior to this settlement, the limit was set up to the threshold of 24,000 travel authorizations in October 2022. In a revised policy for intake, the Biden Administration will allow up to a combined total of 30,000 parolees per month from these countries.
According to DHS, it will keep assessing this monthly cap and make any necessary general adjustments. According to the administration, the enhanced parole process for the four countries covered has no set end date and will continue until otherwise determined.
Similar to what DHS has done for Venezuelan citizens, eligible individuals must have a supporter in the United States who agrees to provide financial support for the duration of the beneficiary’s parole period, as well as pass national security and public safety vetting. Individuals are ineligible for this parole process if they have been previously ordered removed from the United States within the past 5 years, have crossed the United States borders without authorization after either after October 19, 2022 (for Venezuela), or after January 9, 2023 (for Cuba, Haiti, and Nicaragua), or holds permanent resident status or dual nationality, or hold refugee status in, any other country (unless that country is also a part a similar parole process).
WHAT IS THE PAROLE PROGRAM?
The Parole Program administered by the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) allows certain individuals who are otherwise ineligible for admission to the United States to be considered for entry on a case-by-case basis.
Parole is granted at the discretion of the DHS and is typically given for urgent humanitarian reasons or based on a significant public benefit. Individuals granted parole are allowed to enter the United States temporarily, but are not given permanent legal resident status.
HOW TO APPLY UNDER THE PAROLE PROGRAM EXPANSION?
The beneficiaries from Venezuela, Cuba, Haiti, and Nicaragua cannot, on their own, apply for the expansion program. To apply, a U.S.-based supporter from the United States is required to file Form I-134A with the USCIS on behalf of the individual.
If the USCIS considers the petition valid and all criteria have been met, then the USCIS permits the individual to travel to the U.S. for parole consideration at the port of entry. To begin the application process, the U.S.-based sponsor must simply visit the USCIS’s website to complete and submit a Form I-134A for each individual they wish to support.
The primary steps in completing Form I-134A include the following:
- Step 1: Financial Support
The USCIS vets the U.S.-based supporter to ensure their financial status so they can sponsor the individual in the United States. The U.S.-based supporter must demonstrate proof of financial capability to ensure housing for the individual and to ensure that all other needs (including health care food, clothing, transportation, etc.) are met for the duration of the parole period.
- Step 2: Submission Of Biographic Information
Once the USCIS has confirmed the U.S.-based supporter’s financial standing, they must verify their biographic information. Addedly, the individuals who request permission to travel to the United States must indicate that they meet public health protocols, including specific vaccine needs and screening procedures to confirm eligibility in their online account.
- Step 3: Submit Request in CBP One Mobile Application
Once the biographic information has been confirmed, the beneficiary receives further instructions from USCIS to enter their biographic information into CBP One and provide a recent, valid photograph.
- Step 4: Advance Travel Authorization to the United States
This authorization is valid for 90 days if approved. Individuals and their U.S.-based sponsors are responsible for arranging their flight accommodations for travel to the U.S.
- Step 5: Seeking Parole at the Port of Entry
When a beneficiary arrives at a point of entry, CBP will examine them and evaluate whether to give them discretionary parole under the program. The CBP officer will examine and question the individual to ensure any statements provided are consistent with the information provided within the initial application.
- Step 6:Parole Grant
Subject to applicable criminal background checks, health, and vetting standards, those granted parole through the program will typically be granted a two-year stay in the U.S. and be qualified to apply for employment authorization upon arrival.
The USCIS reviews Form I-134A and any supporting documentation once the U.S.-based supporter submits the application to ensure that the supporter has enough money to sustain the individual throughout the parole period, in addition to running background checks on the supporter. The USCIS may request additional evidence if they determine that more information is needed.
Sample supporting documents may include the following:
- Proof of sufficient funds (bank statements or other forms of assets, pay stubs, tax returns, employment verification letter, etc.)
- Background history checks
- Biographic information
- Attestation of nationality (parolees should not be dual nationals of any country)
- Attestation to certify understanding of family relationship requirements
- Attestation of completed vaccine requirements
- Birth certificates
- Valid passport
REQUIREMENTS FOR PAROLEES FROM CUBA, HAITI, AND NICARAGUA:
Individuals must meet the following criteria to qualify for parole into the U.S.:
- Must be outside of the United States;
- Must be a citizen of Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, or Venezuela; or a member of the travel companion’s immediate family (spouse, common-law partner, and unmarried child under the age of 21);
- Have a U.S.-based supporter who has submitted a Form I-134A on their behalf and that USCIS has verified;
- Possess a valid passport and travel documents;
- Organize their travels to their destination in the U.S.;
- Pass the necessary national security and public safety screenings;
- Abide by any additional obligations, such as vaccination mandates or other public health recommendations;
Moreover, the parolees must demonstrate that their grant of parole is warranted based on significant public benefit or urgent humanitarian reasons and that a favorable exercise of discretion is otherwise merited.
WHO ARE ELIGIBLE SPONSORS?
It is required that the parolees have a U.S.-based supporter who will sponsor a Form I-134A on their behalf. A qualifying U.S.-based supporter may fall into any of the following categories:
- U.S. citizens
- Lawful permanent residents, lawful temporary residents, and conditional permanent residents;
- Nonimmigrants in lawful status
- Asylees, refugees, and parolees;
- Refugees, asylum seekers, and parolees;
- Those with Temporary Protected Status (TPS);
- DED Beneficiaries
Furthermore, the sponsor must also pass background and security checks and show they have the financial means to sustain the sponsored beneficiary during the parole period.
The benefits of the program include the following:
- Allowing qualified individuals who may be at risk in their home country to travel to the United States for their safety
- Providing individuals with the opportunity to reunite with family members in the United States
- Allowing individuals to access medical treatment and other resources that may not be available to them
- Giving individuals the opportunity to contribute to the economy and society of the United States through work authorization
It is important to note that this is a discretionary program, meaning that the USCIS and DHS can approve or deny applications for parole. The individuals must meet the eligibility criteria, and the application will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
Attention: This article was written to provide general information, which should not be construed as legal advice. If you are seeking advice on a specific legal matter, you are encouraged to contact our law firm directly and schedule a consultation with our Immigration Attorney for a thorough review of your case.