under the new program for citizens of Nicaragua, Cuba, Haiti & Venezuela only
Finding a sponsor is an essential first step for those wishing to apply for entry into the US under the new program. Those who attempt to cross illegally will be expelled to Mexico.
HAVANA TIMES – Nicaraguan migrants who left their country but haven’t yet reached Mexico, or who have entered Mexico and are now stranded there, must choose between two options for legally entering the United States. Otherwise, they’ll be immediately sent back to Mexico, under provisions of the new immigration measures that entered into effect on January 5th.
Thousands of Nicaraguans who arrived in Mexico before the official announcement of a change in US immigration policies are now caught in the middle. These migrants will have to access the cellphone app CBP One and request an appointment to have their case heard at a border control post. If they are apprehended trying to cross the border illegally, they’ll be immediately deported to Mexico.
Astrid Montealegre, supervising attorney for the Nicaragua American Human Rights Alliance, explained that, for these migrants, the CBP One site will also serve as a way to either request asylum or to apply for the new “humanitarian parole” program.
“The same application can be used for both processes,” Montenegro reiterated, after participating in a meeting with functionaries of the US State Department. The second possible scenario involves Nicaraguans en route to the United States, but who haven’t yet crossed the border into Mexico. These migrants are advised to remain in the countries they’re currently in – Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala or Belize – and from there begin the process of being approved for legal migration by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Citizens fleeing regime’s persecution
Those who are still in Nicaragua and were planning to ask for refugee status or political asylum in the US, but are barred from leaving the country by air, due to the repression imposed by the Ortega-Murillo regime, represent a special case. These will have to seek refuge in another country in the region, while US authorities study their case and approve them for the humanitarian program.
“They should have patience and look for more secure places where they could remain for a while, then apply directly from those countries. If they enter Mexico illegally, or attempt to cross our borders, they won’t be eligible to participate in this program (humanitarian parole),” clarified Blas Nuñez-Neto, Acting Assistant Secretary for Border and Immigration Policy in the US Department of Homeland Security.
The new measures announced by US President Joe Biden establish a monthly combined quota of 30,000 citizens from Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua and Haiti that will be allowed to live and work in the country for a two-year period, through a program known in English as “humanitarian parole.” At the same time, those who cross the border illegally will be immediately sent back to Mexico.
The new immigration program is free, and the application can be filed online by any individual from these four countries. The only cost they’ll face is for their airline tickets. The program won’t involve the embassies or the US State Department, since the entire process of application and approval will be the responsibility of the USCIS. That guarantees that the process will be agile, assured the US official.
“The only thing needed to participate in the program is access to the internet and, obviously, a sponsor in the US, although there are some groups in civil society who are also playing a very important role and can reach out to migrants who perhaps lack sponsors or relatives who are legal residents of the United States,” Nuñez-Neto added.
Requirements to apply for “humanitarian parole”
Nicaraguan migrants who wish to apply for this program must obtain a sponsor with “legal status in the United States, who demonstrates their capacity to provide financial support and any other support that may be necessary to the beneficiaries.”
Once they have identified someone, they must go through a background check, including a US Public Safety and National Security database check. The migrants must also have been vaccinated against Covid-19.
The migrants will be asked to justify their request for humanitarian parole as resulting from urgent humanitarian needs or for a significant public benefit.
To serve as a supporter, an individual or individual representing an entity must:
- Be a US citizen, national, or lawful permanent resident; hold a lawful status in the United States such as Temporary Protected Status or asylum; or be a parolee or recipient of deferred action or Deferred Enforced Departure.
- Pass security and background vetting, including for public safety, national security, human trafficking, and exploitation concerns.
- Demonstrate sufficient financial resources to receive, maintain, and support the individual(s) they are agreeing to support for the duration of their parole period.
- Receive the beneficiary when they arrive in the US and arrange their transportation to the place they’ll be staying.
The sponsors will guarantee that the migrant who arrives under this program has safe and adequate housing during their stay. They must cover their initial basic needs, and support them in accessing English classes, obtaining work, and registering their children in school.
In addition, a sponsor must guarantee the migrant’s medical needs and health attention, and assist them in filling out the necessary paperwork, such as applying for a Social Security card, work permits, etc.
A prospective sponsor must fill out Form I-134A. They can do so for more than one migrant from the same family but must file a separate Form I-134 for each beneficiary.
- Be outside the United States;
- Be a national of Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, or Venezuela; or be an immediate family member (spouse, common-law partner, and/or unmarried child under the age of 21) who is traveling with an eligible Cuban, Haitian, Nicaraguan, or Venezuelan;
- Have a US-based supporter who filed a Form I-134A on their behalf that USCIS has vetted and confirmed;
- Possess an unexpired passport valid for international travel;
- Provide for their own commercial air travel to a US point of entry and final US destination;
- Undergo and pass required national security and public safety vetting;
- Comply with all additional requirements, including vaccination requirements and other public health guidelines; and
- Demonstrate that a grant of parole is warranted based on significant public benefit or urgent humanitarian reasons, and that a favorable exercise of discretion is otherwise merited.
Those who have dual nationality or are permanent residents or legal refugees in another country are not eligible for this program, nor are those who have been deported from the US in the last five years, or who have illegally crossed into Mexico, Panama or the United States after the new policy was announced.
Only the sponsors can initiate the application process
Beneficiaries cannot directly apply for this program. A supporter in the United States must first complete and file Form I-134A with USCIS on behalf of a beneficiary and include information about them and contact details, such as an email address. If the USCIS considers that the information in Form I-134A is sufficient, they will send the migrant information about the next step in the process.
Before their “humanitarian parole” is granted, the migrant will receive a travel authorization to fly directly to their final destination in the United States. They must pay the cost of the flight. Upon arrival at their US destination, individuals will be inspected by Customs and Border Patrol officials and required to submit fingerprints and additional information. Officials will then decide if they are authorized for parole.
Six steps to apply
- Obtain a sponsor for financial support. The sponsor will begin the process by filling out and submitting the online form.
- USCIS will conduct a background check on the sponsor to assure they’re capable of economically supporting the applicant.
- If the sponsor is approved, the migrant will receive an e-mail with instructions on how to create an online account with USCIS and complete their biographical information and the required eligibility declarations.
- The migrant will receive instructions to download the CBP One application where they will enter their biographical information and upload a photo.
- The migrant will receive a notice in their account that they’ve been approved for travel to the US before requesting their humanitarian parole. The authorization is valid for 90 days. Approval of advance authorization to travel does not guarantee entry or parole into the United States at a US port of entry.
- When the migrant arrives at the US port of entry, they will be inspected by a Border Patrol official and their case for a “humanitarian parole” will be considered for approval or denial.