New Process for Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans outside of the United States
Last updated on October 18, 2023
The U.S. government has made an announcement that affects citizens of Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela who are outside of the United States.
If you are from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela but currently living in the United States, these changes do NOT affect your case.
Here are the changes announced by the U.S. government:
- Unfortunately, most Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans who arrive at the Mexico-U.S. border to seek asylum are now not allowed to enter the United States. Instead, the U.S. government is returning these individuals to Mexico. This is true even if you present yourself at a bridge or an official Port of Entry. Many people and groups are fighting back against this change.
- There is now a new process for Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans outside the United States. The new process allows some citizens of these four countries, and some of their family members, to travel by airplane to the U.S. and receive a temporary status called “parole.” However, the process is limited to people with a financial sponsor in the United States. Please keep reading for more information.
Although we hope parts of the new process will be helpful to some people, we at the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP) do not agree with parts of the announcement that limit asylum. We will update this page as we learn more, and we will continue to fight for the right to asylum for people from all countries.
What is the new process for Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans?
The new process allows some citizens of these four countries who are outside the United States (and certain family members) to come to the United States by airplane. People using this program are called “beneficiaries.” Beneficiaries allowed to enter the United States under this process receive a temporary status called “parole” that permits them to live in the United States for up to two years. The new process requires having a financial sponsor (called a “supporter”) in the United States.
Please note: If you are Cuban, Haitian, Nicaraguan, or Venezuelan and currently living in the United States, this new process does not affect your case. However, the new process could affect the options available for your loved ones outside of the United States.
If you are NOT Cuban, Haitian, Nicaraguan, or Venezuelan, this new process also does not affect you, but you can find many other helpful resources here!
Who is eligible for the new process?
You might be eligible for the new process if ALL of these apply to you:
- You are a citizen of Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, or Venezuela.
- You are currently outside the United States.
- Someone with lawful status in the United States is willing to be your “supporter” and show proof that they can financially support you for up to 2 years.
But, you will unfortunately be disqualified if ANY of these situations apply to you:
- You crossed a border into the United States, Mexico, OR Panama without documents after these dates:
- January 9, 2023 (for Cubans, Haitians, and Nicaraguans)
- October 19, 2022 (for Venezuelans)
- You have been deported from the United States within the past 5 years.
- You have dual citizenship or permanent residence in a second country. In that situation, however, your spouse or one of your parents (if you are under 21 and not married) could still include you in their application if they are eligible.
You can find more details under “Eligibility” on this USCIS webpage.
How does the new process work?
- You must have a financial sponsor, called a “supporter,” who is already in the U.S. The “supporter” must have lawful status in the United States (for example: TPS, parole, asylum, lawful permanent residence, or U.S. citizenship). They must also complete a background check. And they must show proof that they can provide financial support for you for up to 2 years.
- Your “supporter” must complete a separate Form I-134A online for each person they are sponsoring (“beneficiary”). Your spouse or unmarried children under 21 can also be included as additional beneficiaries, even if they are not citizens of Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, or Venezuela—or have dual citizenship with two countries.
- If approved, you the “beneficiary” will then receive instructions to set up an online account. Using your online account, you will have to provide additional information, upload a valid passport and photo, and list the other beneficiary family members who will travel with you.
- If the additional information is approved, the U.S. government should then send you an official “advance travel authorization” which would give you and your family members 90 days to travel by airplane to the United States.
- When you and your family members arrive at the airport, a U.S. immigration official at the airport can grant “parole.” Parole is temporary permission to stay in the United States for up to two years. Most people should receive parole at this stage. However, there is a small possibility that U.S. immigration officials could decide not to grant parole at the airport.
- If you and your family members receive parole, you will be allowed to enter the United States and can immediately apply for a work permit online under category (c)(11).
You can learn more detail and complete the steps online at this webpage from the U.S. government agency USCIS. USCIS has also published a list of Frequently Asked Questions where you can find additional detail. You can also watch this video from USCIS (created when the program was only for Venezuela, but still useful) for a demonstration of how to complete the online forms.
Please keep in mind that because this process is new, we do not yet know how long it will take.
Other common questions about the new process
What does this process cost?
There are no application fees for this new process. However, someone must purchase the airline tickets for you to travel to the United States. Also, the “supporter” in the U.S. must show proof that they have enough financial resources to support the basic needs of the “beneficiary” for up to 2 years.
Can this process be used to bring a child to the United States?
Yes. But if they are under 18, they can only use this process if they will travel with a parent or legal guardian. On this USCIS webpage under “Unaccompanied Children,” you can find information about how to assist children outside the United States who are currently separated from their parent or legal guardian.
Do I need a valid, unexpired passport for this process?
Yes. You and any family members must each have your own unexpired passport. For Venezuelans only, however, you can use certain expired passports (see this USCIS webpage and scroll down to the bottom of the “Eligibility” section).
If I enter the United States and receive parole through this new process, can I still apply for asylum?
Yes! If you receive parole, you can still apply for asylum in the United States. For many people, this may be important because parole is only temporary. You can learn more about asylum and the process of applying for it here.
More information for potential “supporters” in the United States
Can a person currently seeking asylum in the United States be a “supporter” to sponsor someone in this process?
Unfortunately, no, someone in the process of seeking asylum cannot file Form I-134A to be the supporter, unless they also have another legal status such as TPS or parole. Find more information under “Who Can be a Supporter” on this USCIS webpage.
Will the “supporter” be required to pay all the living expenses for the “beneficiary” they sponsor for two years?
Usually not. To file the Form I-134A to begin the process, the supporter must show that they would have the financial ability to provide for the basic needs of the beneficiary. But after the beneficiary receives parole at the airport, they can apply immediately for their own work permit and earn their own income.
How much money is required to be a “supporter”?
There is no specific amount of money or income. But when the supporter files Form I-134A to begin the process, they will need to upload proof like pay stubs and bank account statements to show that they could provide a person arriving in the United States with basic needs like housing and food to start a new life here. You can read more details at this USCIS webpage under “Who Can Be a Supporter”.
Where can I find more information?
Note: This information is not a substitute for advice from an attorney.