Posted on July 10, 2023

U.S. Opens New Legal Path for Central American, Colombian Immigrants

Camilo Montoya-Galvez, CBS, July 7, 2023

The Biden administration will soon open a new immigration program to allow some Central Americans and Colombians to enter the U.S. legally and discourage would-be migrants from these countries from journeying north to cross the U.S. southern border illegally, officials announced Friday.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) initiative, which will formally start on July 10, will allow eligible migrants from Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to fly to the U.S. and gain government work permits if they have relatives who are U.S. citizens or legal residents and have filed visa applications on their behalf.

As part of a broader plan to address unlawful crossings along the U.S.-Mexico border earlier this year, the Biden administration committed to welcoming up to 100,000 Central American migrants under this program, known as the Family Reunification Parole Process. {snip}

To qualify for the program, migrants must have U.S. ties. The process starts with U.S. citizens or permanent residents filing immigrant visa requests on behalf of relatives from these four countries. {snip}

Once those petitions are approved, the American citizen or resident applicants may receive an invitation to apply for their relatives to come to the U.S. much more quickly than they would have under the backlogged and numerically capped visa system. {snip}


More than 70,000 individuals could qualify for the program immediately, according to government data. As of late May, there were 17,400 Colombians, 32,600 Salvadorans, 12,800 Guatemalans and 10,700 Hondurans waiting in the family-based immigrant visa backlog with approved petitions. {snip}


So far in fiscal year 2023, more than 126,000 Colombians, 115,000 Guatemalans, 41,000 Salvadorans and 110,000 Hondurans have been processed by U.S. immigration authorities at the southwest border, according to federal figures.


The Biden administration has made the expansion of legal migration a cornerstone of its revamped strategy to reduce unauthorized crossings along the southern border, which soared to record levels in 2022.