USCIS will start the next round of Haitian Family Reunification Program Invitations!

The Haitian Family Reunification Program allows U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents with pending family petitions to apply for advance parole of their family members still residing in Haiti. If the application is approved, the family member will be allowed to come to the United States up to two years before their immigration visa application is called for an interview. Each applicant waiting to be called for an interview at the US embassy or consulate in their home country, has a priority date on their approval notice. That approval notice determines when their file will be called to be processed. Through the Haitian Family Reunification Program, the applicant can come to the U.S. as a parolee two years before their priority date is current.

Once the applicant is the United States as a parolee, they are not automatically issued a green card. They will qualify to apply for work authorization while waiting for their priority date to be current. Once their file is ready to be called for an interview, the applicant will be able to file their application to adjust status without having to return to Haiti for their interview. The green card application and interview will take place in the U.S. Please take note that an application for an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen will not qualify for this program. An immediate relative is either a spouse, child under the age of 21, or a parent of a U.S. citizen. Immediate relatives have visas immediately available to them, therefore their applications will not be pending for a long period of time and therefore have no need for this program.

To be eligible for parole, USCIS will conduct an investigation. They will review the file and all of the documents provided by the petitioner. The file will then be forwarded to the U.S. embassy in Haiti where the interview will take place. Parole is not guaranteed. It is granted in a case by case basis and is up to the discretion of the immigration officers. To be granted parole, the applicant must meet all of the program requirements, pass a security background check, pass a medical exam, and be admissible to the United States. Those who have committed serious crimes will not be granted parole. Immigration officers also have the discretion to grant parole for urgent humanitarian or public benefits reasons.

To be eligible for the Haitian Family Reunification Program, the petitioner must a U.S. citizen or a Lawful Permanent Resident who already filed an I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, on behalf of a family member in Haiti. The Petition must have been approved prior to December 18, 2014. The family member must be a Haitian national currently residing in Haiti. If the petitioner qualifies for the program, they will receive an invitation letter from the Department of State and the National Visa Center to participate in the program. It is very important that the mailing address and contact information is up to date with immigration. If the petitioner is currently residing in different address from when they initial filed the I-130, they must file a change of address form with immigration. If the address is not current, they will miss the invitation letter.

The Haitian Family Reunification Program was created on December 18, 2014, by USCIS, to promote family unity and to reduce the time that U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents are separated from their relatives in Haiti. The program is said to also support the goals of the U.S. for Haiti’s long-term reconstruction and development. USCIS has a goal of processing about 5,000 applicants annually through this program. There was an initial first round of invitation letters that were sent out to qualified petitioners. USCIS recently announced that the next round of invitation letters for the program will be issued in mid to late November of 2015.

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