DHS To Implement Haitian Family Reunification Parole (HFRP) Program

Due to emergent circumstances and effective advocacy by grassroots organizations, the Obama Administration has created a new program to expedite the entry of intending immigrants from Haiti into the U.S.

According to the USCIS website:

Starting in early 2015, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will begin implementation of a Haitian Family Reunification Parole (HFRP) Program to expedite family reunification for certain eligible Haitian family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents of the U.S. and to promote safe, legal and orderly migration from Haiti to the United States.

Under this program U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will offer certain eligible Haitian beneficiaries of already approved family-based immigrant visa petitions, who are currently in Haiti, an opportunity to come to the United States up to approximately two years before their immigrant visa priority dates become current.

The new program comes on the heels of the “Reunite Haitian-American Families” campaign by the Black Immigration Network. Haitian American and migrant rights advocates, human rights activists and community leaders have called on President Obama’s Administration to create a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program (HRPP) following the devastation of the Haitian earthquake in January 2010. While 110,000 Haitians have legally immigrated to the U.S. since the earthquake, many family members remain on family preference waiting lists in Haiti, where they are at risk of life-threatening conditions.

Under this new program, potential immigrants from Haiti will be paroled into the U.S. to await their visas here. However, they would first need to be petitioned by their family members in the U.S. who have been invited to apply for the program. DHS estimates that at least 5,000 persons could benefit from this program.

Legal authority for this program arises under INA 212(d)(5)(A), whereby the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has the discretion to parole temporarily into the United States, under such conditions as he or she may prescribe, any non-citizen applying for admission. The DHS Secretary may exercise this discretion only on a case-by-case basis for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.

This is the same legal authority used to establish the Cuban Family Reunification Parole program in 2007. Past Presidents have also used this executive authority to effectively parole thousands of refugees and immigrants into the United States. There is no reason why the President today cannot use the same parole power to assist those waiting on the oversubscribed family preference categories with immigrating to the U.S. even after the cap has been reached for their preference categories. Nothing in the Immigration and National Act (INA) precludes the President from taking this action, and there is no prohibition anywhere that would bar USCIS from allowing the beneficiary of an approved family-visa petition from applying for employment authorization document (EAD) and advance parole.

Under the newly-established Haitian Family Reunification Parole program, which starts in 2015, Haitians authorized parole will be allowed to enter the United States and apply for work permits but will not receive permanent resident status until their priority dates become current.

We look forward to assisting Haitian families reunite with their loved ones in the U.S.

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