The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has unveiled a fresh initiative today, aimed at facilitating family reunification for certain Ecuadorian nationals. This move aligns with the Biden-Harris Administration’s comprehensive approach to addressing irregular migration by expanding legal pathways and strengthening enforcement. The Family Reunification Parole (FRP) process is designed to foster family unity and falls in line with the extensive measures introduced by DHS and the Department of State in April. These measures also align with the goals of the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection, which seeks to bolster national, regional, and hemispheric efforts for safe, orderly, humane, and regular migration.
The newly introduced process is tailored for Ecuadorian nationals with family ties to U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, who have already gained approval to join their families in the United States. More specifically, Ecuadorian nationals and their immediate family members are eligible for case-by-case consideration for parole for up to three years. This parole status allows them to await their opportunity to apply for lawful permanent residency in the United States.
Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro N. Mayorkas, stated, “The Family Reunification Parole process promotes family unity consistent with our laws and our values. Establishing this process for certain Ecuadorian nationals will ensure more families can access lawful pathways rather than placing themselves at the mercy of smugglers to make the dangerous journey. Those who do not avail themselves of family reunification parole or other lawful, safe, and orderly pathways and attempt to enter the United States unlawfully will continue to face tough consequences.”
The new process is open to certain Ecuadorian nationals who are beneficiaries of an approved Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. Eligible beneficiaries must be residing outside the United States, fulfill all requirements, including screening, vetting, and medical prerequisites, and must not have previously obtained an immigrant visa.
The Family Reunification Parole process commences with an invitation from the Department of State to the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident family member who filed Form I-130 on behalf of the Ecuadorian beneficiary. Beneficiaries who are awaiting an immigrant visa could include specific children and siblings of U.S. citizens, as well as certain spouses and children of lawful permanent residents. The inviting petitioner can then initiate the process by submitting a request on behalf of the beneficiary and eligible family members to be considered for advance travel authorization and parole.
It is important to note that the Family Reunification Parole process is subject to individual case evaluation and is granted on a temporary basis, guided by compelling humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit, along with a demonstration of the beneficiary’s favorable exercise of discretion. Those paroled into the United States under this process are typically considered for parole for a duration of up to three years, during which they can request employment authorization while awaiting the availability of their immigrant visa. Upon visa availability, they can apply for lawful permanent residency.
The Immigration and Nationality Act empowers the Secretary of Homeland Security with the discretion to grant parole to applicants for temporary admission into the United States on a case-by-case basis, based on urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit. This authority has been exercised by previous Secretaries across various administrations, resulting in the establishment of other family reunification parole processes managed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. These include the Cuban Family Reunification Parole Program in 2007 and the Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program in 2014. DHS also recently introduced new FRP processes for Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras in July, as well as the modernization of FRP processes for Cuba and Haiti in August.
For comprehensive details on the application process and eligibility criteria, the Federal Register Notice for this FRP process will be published soon.