The United States announced this Friday the formal start of the Family Reunification Program (FRP), which will benefit Colombians, Salvadorans and Guatemalans.
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The program had been announced in April of this year, but as of this Friday it will begin to be implemented.
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“These new processes promote family unity and provide legal pathways consistent with our laws and our values. The Department has shown that the expansion of safe, orderly, and legal pathways, combined with strong law enforcement, is effective in reducing migration irregular and dangerous to the United States,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas said in making the announcement.
According to the US, the new processes will only be for citizens of these countries whose relatives are US citizens or lawful permanent residents and who have already received approval to join their family in the United States.
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The cases, note the authorities of this country, will be analyzed one by one and those approved will be granted a conditional release permit or “parole” so that they can remain in the US for up to three years while their process to become legal residents progresses. Those three years of parole could also be renewable.
The Department for Homeland Security (DHS) clarifies that the approvals will be “discretionary, case-by-case and temporary” after the beneficiary demonstrates that there are “urgent humanitarian reasons, a benefit to the public and “the exercise of discretion is justified”.
According to the immigration authorities, the process will begin when “the Department of State issues an invitation to the United States citizen or lawful permanent resident family member whose Form I-130 on behalf of a Colombian, Salvadoran, Guatemalan, or Honduran beneficiary has been approved.”
(In context: This is the form for the family reunification process with the United States)
It adds: “Beneficiaries may include certain children and siblings of U.S. citizens and certain spouses and children of permanent residents. The invited petitioner may then initiate the process by submitting an application on behalf of the beneficiary and eligible family members for consideration. for advance travel authorization and parole”.
Although the United States does not clarify in its statement, it is taken for granted that those who will first benefit from the measure are those citizens of the United States who have already had the I-130 form approved t for their relatives in Colombia, Guatemala or El Salvador and were waiting in line to be issued an immigrant visa, which is limited annually.
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To put it in context, Colombians who are citizens of the United States have the right to apply for residency for their children over 21 years of age and their siblings (and families), while Colombian legal residents (green cards) for their spouses and sons.
The problem is that The United States only grants a limited number of these visas annually. and, in general, relatives have to wait several years in their countries of origin (in queue) until they are available.
What the FPR does is that it transfers that waiting time to US territory and, as its name indicates, accelerates reunification.
The document that gives life to the FRP for Colombia will be published in the Federal Register of the United States as of this Monday, July 10 for the title Implementation of the Family Reunification Program for Colombians.
However, this newspaper had access to a 35-page version of the text where the program is described.
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The process will allow family members to reunite in the United States while they wait for their immigrant visas to become available.
In its filing, DHS says: “This notice announces that the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has created and will begin to implement a Family Reunification Parole (FRP) process for Colombians. Under this process, Certain Colombian principal beneficiaries of an approved Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative, and their immediate family members, will be issued prior authorization to travel to the United States to seek discretionary parole authorization in the US. for a period of up to three years, rather than remain outside the United States while they await the availability of their immigrant visas.”
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It then adds that “the process will allow family members to reunite in the United States while they wait for their immigrant visas to become available. This process is voluntary and is intended to provide an additional legal, safe, and orderly pathway for migration from Colombia.” to the United States as an alternative to irregular migration to help relieve pressure on the Southwest border and reunite families, consistent with US national security interests and foreign policy priorities.”
The process for Colombians, Guatemalans and Salvadorans is very similar to two other FRPs already in force that currently benefit Cubans and Haitians.
It is not clear, at this point, the number of Colombians who have already had the I-130 form approved and would be ready to immigrate to the United States. Nor is there a limit to the number of “paroles” that will be issued each year so that the families of these Colombians can travel to the United States while their immigration visa is valid.
See below for the US Department of Homeland Security document.
SERGIO GOMEZ MASERI
EL TIEMPO correspondent