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  • News: USCIS Notice of Changes to Application Procedures for the Cuban Family Reunification Parole Program

    Federal Register, Volume 79 Issue 243 (Thursday, December 18, 2014)
    [Federal Register Volume 79, Number 243 (Thursday, December 18, 2014)]
    [Notices]
    [Pages 75579-75581]
    From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
    [FR Doc No: 2014-29486]
    
    
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
    
    U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
    
    [CIS No. 2547-14; DHS Docket No. USCIS-2007-0043]
    
    
    Notice of Changes to Application Procedures for the Cuban Family 
    Reunification Parole Program
    
    AGENCY: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, DHS.
    
    ACTION: Notice.
    
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    
    SUMMARY: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announces 
    that as of February 17, 2015, USCIS will begin requiring the filing of 
    an Application for Travel Document (Form I-131) and payment of its 
    associated fee or approval of a fee waiver request from individuals who 
    are applying for the Cuban Family
    
    [[Page 75580]]
    
    Reunification Parole (CFRP) Program on behalf of a beneficiary in Cuba. 
    No form or fee is currently required for the CFRP Program. Under the 
    CFRP Program, USCIS offers certain beneficiaries of approved family-
    based immigrant petitions the opportunity to be paroled into the United 
    States to apply for lawful permanent resident status, rather than 
    remain in Cuba waiting for their immigrant visas to become available. 
    The purpose of the program is to expedite family reunification through 
    safe, legal, and orderly channels of migration to the United States and 
    to discourage irregular and inherently dangerous maritime migration. 
    This notice is intended to: Make the CFRP Program application and 
    adjudication processes consistent with those for most other requests 
    for parole filed on behalf of individuals outside the United States; 
    facilitate centralized filing and more standardized processing of 
    parole applications; and, recover costs incurred by USCIS to adjudicate 
    and provide CFRP Program travel documents. This notice will affect only 
    those individuals who receive a written invitation to apply to the CFRP 
    Program from the Department of State's National Visa Center (NVC) which 
    is dated on or after February 17, 2015. This notice will not affect 
    existing CFRP Program beneficiaries or individuals who received a 
    notice of program eligibility from the NVC predating the publication of 
    this notice and who submitted to the NVC the complete documentation 
    required to apply for the program prior to February 17, 2015 (referred 
    to as `grandfathered' cases). Grandfathered cases will continue to be 
    processed without form or fee.
    
    DATES: 
         As of December 18, 2014, the NVC will no longer issue CFRP 
    Program eligibility notices inviting eligible petitioners to opt in to 
    the program without the required form and fee.
         On or after February 17, 2015, the NVC will begin sending 
    to eligible petitioners a written invitation to apply to the CFRP 
    Program using the required form and fee or request for fee waiver.
         A petitioner who received a CFRP Program eligibility 
    notice dated prior to December 18, 2014 must submit to the NVC the 
    complete required documentation to apply for the CFRP Program before 
    February 17, 2015 to be grandfathered and eligible for processing 
    without a form and fee.
         A petitioner who received a CFRP Program eligibility 
    notice before December 18, 2014 who fails to submit to the NVC the 
    complete required documentation to apply for the CFRP Program before 
    February 17, 2015 cannot apply for the program until the petitioner 
    receives a written invitation to apply to the CFRP Program using a 
    required form and fee.
         Any person who applies for the CFRP Program after February 
    17, 2015 must submit a form and fee as prescribed in this notice and 
    after receipt of a written invitation to apply from the NVC.
    
    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Pilar Peralta Mihalko, Chief, 
    International Adjudications Support Branch, International Operations 
    Division, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of 
    Homeland Security, 1585 S. Manchester Avenue, Anaheim, CA 92802, 
    Telephone (714) 808-8133.
    
    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:
    
    I. Background on CFRP Program
    
        The CFRP Program was announced on November 15, 2007, via Federal 
    Register notice (72 FR 65588). The notice explained that, in accordance 
    with the U.S.-Cuba Migration Accords, the United States committed to 
    ensuring that total legal migration to the United States from Cuba 
    would be a minimum of 20,000 Cubans each year, not including immediate 
    relatives of U.S. citizens (USC). See Joint Communiqu[eacute] on 
    Migration, U.S.-Cuba (Sept. 9, 1994) (known together with the May 2, 
    1995 Joint Statement as the U.S.-Cuba Migration Accords (hereinafter 
    ``Migration Accords'')). Through the CFRP the United States offers a 
    safe, legal, and orderly means of migrating to the United States.
        The CFRP Program addressed two constraints posed by the array of 
    migration programs that existed at the time of the program's creation, 
    which had limited the ability of the United States to effectively 
    promote safe, legal, and orderly migration as an alternative to 
    inherently dangerous maritime crossings. First, with the exception of 
    immediate relatives of USCs (i.e., spouse, unmarried child(ren) under 
    21 years of age, and parents), see Immigration and Nationality Act 
    (INA) sec. 201(b)(2)(A)(i), 8 U.S.C. 1151(b)(2)(A)(i), the number of 
    family-based immigrant visas that are available in any given year is 
    limited by statute, see INA secs. 201(c), 202(a), 203, 8 U.S.C. 
    1151(c), 1152(a), 1153. These statutory limits have resulted in long 
    waiting periods before family members remaining in Cuba may join the 
    USC and lawful permanent resident (LPR) family members who petitioned 
    for them. Since 1998, the Cuban Government has not permitted a new 
    registration for the Special Program for Cuban Migration, the parole 
    lottery initiated by the United States in support of the Migration 
    Accords. Without this pool of individuals, there was a deficiency in 
    the number of Cubans potentially eligible for travel to the United 
    States.
        Under the CFRP Program, USCIS exercises its discretionary parole 
    authority to permit eligible Cuban nationals to come to the United 
    States to join their family members.\1\ Granting parole to eligible 
    aliens under the CFRP Program serves the significant public benefit of 
    enabling the United States to meet its commitments under the Migration 
    Accords. It also lessens the perceived need for family members left 
    behind in Cuba to make irregular and inherently dangerous attempts to 
    arrive in the United States through unsafe maritime crossings, thereby 
    discouraging alien smuggling as a means to enter the United States. 
    Whether to parole a particular alien remains, however, a case-by-case, 
    discretionary determination.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    
        \1\ See INA sec. 212(d)(5)(A), 8 U.S.C. 1182(d)(5)(A) 
    (permitting parole of certain aliens into the United States, as a 
    matter of discretion and on a case-by-case basis, for urgent 
    humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit); see also 8 CFR 
    212.5(c) & (d) (discretionary authority for establishing conditions 
    of parole and for terminating parole).
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    
    II. Background on Requiring a Form and a Fee
    
        USCIS has not previously required a form or collected a fee for 
    parole requests under the CFRP Program. As a result, USCIS has not used 
    a standardized USCIS form, and has not required family members or 
    beneficiaries to cover any of the costs associated with the benefit 
    provided to them under the CFRP Program. The INA provides that USCIS 
    may collect fees at a level that will ensure recovery of the full costs 
    of adjudication and naturalization services, including services 
    provided without charge to asylum applicants and certain other 
    immigration applicants. INA sec. 286(m), 8 U.S.C. 1356(m). Operating 
    expenses for the CFRP Program have been fully funded through use of fee 
    revenue from other immigration benefit applicants. To bring CFRP 
    Program parole requests in line with the majority of other parole 
    requests filed on behalf of individuals outside of the United States, 
    USCIS will now require the submission of a completed Form I-131, 
    Application for Travel Document, and the fee required by USCIS fee 
    regulations at 8 CFR 103.7(b)(1)(i)(M) for any CFRP Program application 
    filed on or after February 17, 2015. Applicants for the CFRP Program 
    must complete
    
    [[Page 75581]]
    
    and file the Form I-131 in effect at the time of filing--and follow any 
    additional instructions included in the program eligibility notice they 
    receive from either USCIS or the NVC in submitting their application. A 
    completed Form I-131 and fee or fee waiver request must be filed for 
    each individual on whose behalf parole is being requested.
    
    III. Participation in the CFRP Program and Application Process
    
        USCIS offers participation in the CFRP Program to Cuban nationals 
    who reside in Cuba and who are the beneficiaries--including any 
    eligible spouse and child accompanying or following-to-join the 
    principal beneficiaries (see INA sec. 203(d), 8 U.S.C. 1153(d))--of an 
    approved Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, but for whom an 
    immigrant visa is not immediately available. Participation in the CFRP 
    Program is voluntary.
        Prior to the date of this notice, the NVC mailed written notice to 
    eligible U.S.-based U.S.C. and LPR petitioners with approved Forms I-
    130 indicating their beneficiaries' eligibility to participate in the 
    CFRP Program. The notice invited an interested petitioner to submit to 
    the NVC a copy of their approved Form I-130 and other supporting 
    documents to opt in to the CFRP Program and begin the process of 
    requesting parole. No formal application form or fee was required to 
    apply. As of the date of this notice, the NVC will no longer issue CFRP 
    Program eligibility notices that do not require a form and fee to 
    apply. Petitioners with CFRP Program eligibility notices dated prior to 
    December 18, 2014 must submit to the NVC the complete required 
    documentation to opt in to the CFRP Program prior to February 17, 2015 
    in order to be grandfathered and considered for processing without a 
    form and fee.
        On or after February 17, 2015, participation in the CFRP Program 
    will be predicated on submission of a Form I-131 and the requisite 
    fee(s) or request for fee waiver that has been approved by USCIS. A 
    U.S.C. or LPR petitioner in the United States with an approved Form I-
    130 that was filed on behalf of a beneficiary relative residing in 
    Cuba, for whom a visa is not anticipated to be available during the 
    CFRP processing time, will receive a written invitation from the NVC 
    regarding the beneficiary's eligibility to participate in the CFRP 
    Program and the procedures for requesting parole, if desired. The 
    notice will instruct the recipient on how to file a completed Form I-
    131 and submit the required fee(s) or fee waiver request to apply for 
    the program. USCIS will reject a request for parole under the CFRP 
    Program submitted without the required form and fee(s) or a request for 
    a fee waiver.
        USCIS officers or Department of State consular officers will 
    interview qualified beneficiaries in Havana to verify their eligibility 
    for the program. Beneficiaries may also have their biometrics 
    collected. If USCIS exercises its discretion to authorize parole under 
    the CFRP Program, USCIS or the Department of State will issue the 
    necessary travel documents to the beneficiary in Cuba. These travel 
    documents will enable the beneficiary to travel safely to the United 
    States and seek parole by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at a 
    U.S. port-of-entry to join his or her family member. A beneficiary who 
    is paroled into the United States would then be eligible to apply to 
    adjust status to that of lawful permanent resident after he or she has 
    been physically present in the United States for one year as provided 
    by the Cuban Adjustment Act, Pub. L. 89-732, 80 Stat. 1161 (8 U.S.C. 
    1255 note), or once the beneficiary's visa becomes available, whichever 
    comes first.
        Participation in the CFRP Program is not available to aliens who 
    qualify as ``immediate relatives'' under section 201(b)(2)(A)(i) of the 
    INA, 8 U.S.C. 1151(b)(2)(A)(i). Such aliens may seek immigrant visas 
    for travel to the United States immediately upon the approval of the 
    immigrant visa petitions filed on their behalf.
        For eligible beneficiaries who are not ``immediate relatives,'' if 
    an immigrant visa becomes available while the Form I-131 is pending, 
    the beneficiary will be able to proceed with the parole process to 
    completion, if desired. Alternatively, the beneficiary can choose to 
    pursue immigrant visa processing, which will require payment of 
    associated fees but will enable the individual to apply for admission 
    to the United States as an immigrant, if found eligible by the 
    Department of State for the visa and admissible by CBP at the port of 
    entry.
    
    IV. Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA)
    
        Under the PRA, 44 U.S.C. chapter 35, all Departments are required 
    to submit to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and 
    approval, any new reporting requirements they impose. The Application 
    for Travel Document, Form I-131, has been approved by OMB and assigned 
    OMB control number 1615-0013. USCIS is making no changes to the Form in 
    connection with the CFRP Program and this notice; however, USCIS 
    estimates that this notice will result in an annual average of 13,000-
    15,000 Form I-131 filings per year. The current OMB-approved estimate 
    of the number of annual respondents filing a Form I-131 is 940,671. 
    USCIS has overestimated the number of individuals who will use this 
    form to apply for immigration benefits to the degree that additional 
    respondents who will use it to file for the CFRP Program will be 
    covered within the 940,671 estimated. USCIS is not changing the 
    collection instrument or increasing its burden estimates in connection 
    with this notice. Therefore, USCIS is not publishing a notice under the 
    PRA or making revisions to the currently approved burden for OMB 
    control number 1615-0013.
        Additional information about the CFRP Program and the application 
    process will be posted on the USCIS Web site at www.uscis.gov.
    
        Dated: December 11, 2014.
    Le[oacute]n Rodr[iacute]guez
    Director, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
    [FR Doc. 2014-29486 Filed 12-17-14; 8:45 am]
    BILLING CODE 9111-97-P
    
    
    
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