Officials from the Department of Homeland Security announced on Friday that the process will start July 10 and will allow "nationals from Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras whose family members are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents," who have lawful approval, to travel to the US.
The program is set to approve nationals applying to stay with family members in the US for up to three years while they wait for the opportunity to become US residents.
US Secretary of DHS Alejandro Mayorkas said the process is to "promote family unity and provide lawful pathways consistent with our laws and our values" in our immigration system.
Mayorkas added it will be "reducing dangerous, irregular migration to the United States."
Those who can apply to the program must not have already received an immigration visa. The process begins with a family member in the US filling out a form declaring and establishing a relationship with a relative in one of the applicable countries.
The program applies to nationals on a "case-by-case and temporary basis upon a demonstration of urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit."
Immigrants who are eligible will also have the opportunity to work when they come in and can "request employment authorization while they wait for their immigrant visa to become available."
The process has been used before when Haiti suffered an earthquake in 2010. In response, a program for Haitians was created in 2014 to reunite families that were separated in the aftereffects of the disaster.
It has also been used for Cubans starting in 2007 so the US could meet obligations under the 1994 and 1995 US-Cuba migration accords to bring a minimum of 20,000 Cuban immigrants to the US each year.
According to CBS News, government data shows over 70,000 migrants would qualify immediately for the new program.
The Biden administration called it "an alternative to irregular migration to help relieve pressure at the Southwest Border."
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