By Kristina Karpinski
On December 18, 2014, USCIS announced implementation of the Haitian Family Reunification Parole (HFRP) program for certain beneficiaries of family-based preference petitions filed on or before that date. Under the program, eligible Haitians whose immigrant visas are expected to become available within approximately 18 to 30 months will be given an opportunity to receive parole to enter the United States. Once in the United States, the parolees will be eligible to apply for an employment authorization document; when their priority dates become current, they may apply to adjust status to permanent residence. The program is intended to expedite family reunification and aid Haiti in its continued recovery efforts following the devastating January 12, 2010 earthquake.
Participation in the HFRP program is available to Haitians who are:
- In Haiti
- The beneficiaries of an I-130 relative petition that was approved on or before December 18, 2014
- Whose immigrant visas are expected to be available in approximately 18 to 30 months, and
- Whose petitioning relatives in the United States have received an invitation from the National Visa Center (NVC) to apply for parole on their behalf.
Derivative spouses and children of the principal Haitian beneficiaries are also eligible to participate in the program. Beneficiaries of immediate relative petitions are not eligible for the program since immigrant visas are immediately available to them.
The National Visa Center will begin sending written invitations to eligible petitioners on or after February 2, 2015. The NVC will send invitations based on the date the immigrant visas are expected to become available so those cases with the earliest priority dates will receive invitations first. The notice will instruct petitioners on how to file the Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, for each beneficiary with the required fee or a fee waiver request. Participation in the program is voluntary and petitioners will be given a deadline by which they must apply on behalf of their relatives. Petitioners who believe they are eligible to file should make sure the NVC has their current mailing address by contacting the NVC at email@example.com or calling (603) 334-0700. Representatives can also contact the NVC at NVCattorney@state.gov.
The Form I-131 and supporting documentation will be reviewed by the USCIS. If the application appears approvable, it will be forwarded by the NVC to the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. USCIS or the Department of State in Haiti will interview the beneficiary to determine eligibility for the program. Beneficiaries may also need to provide biometrics. Decisions on the parole requests are discretionary and will be made on a case-by-case basis. The beneficiaries in Haiti will need to undergo medical examinations and security background checks before parole is granted. Additionally, beneficiaries must meet all eligibility requirements for the family-based immigrant visa (with the exception that an immigrant visa number is available) and be admissible to the United States.
If parole is granted, beneficiaries will be issued a travel document to come to the United States. Once in the United States, parolees can apply for an employment authorization document under 8 CFR § 274a.12(c)(11). They will also be eligible to apply to adjust status to permanent residence when their priority date becomes current. Should an immigrant visa become current while the I-131 is pending, beneficiaries can choose to continue with the parole request or decide instead to purse the immigrant visa. If a beneficiary chooses to apply for the immigrant visa, the applicant will be required to pay all fees associated with that process and USCIS will not refund the fee for the parole request.