Central American Commission of Migration Directors (OCAM)

IOM provides specialized technical support to the Central American Commission of Migration Directors (OCAM). OCAM (acronym arising from the first meetings when it was called the Central American Organization for Migration) was created in October 1990 in San Jose, Costa Rica, at the request of the Central American Presidents under the Economic Action Plan for Central America ( PAECA). The creation of the OCAM initially responds to the need to facilitate the movement of people between the countries of the region and also the recognition that migration is a vital process in the Central American integration.

The OCAM also addresses the need to provide effective solutions to common problems in the field of migration. Since its inception, the OCAM has promoted concerted actions for collection and processing of migration data, training of officials from the Directorates and Institutes of Migrating, from its member countries, modernization of migration management, implementation of tools and  common migratory procedures, the homogenization of foreign entry requirements, decent, safe and orderly regional and extra-regional migrants' return, combating migrant smuggling and human trafficking and other issues of common interest.

OCAM later was incorporated into the Central American Integration System (SICA) and, in the beginning, was the institution in charge of fulfilling the tasks of Technical Secretariat was the Secretariat of Central American Economic Integration (SIECA). From January 1999, IOM assumed the Technical Secretariat of the OCAM, under the agreement signed with the General Secretariat of SICA in order to support regional activities on migration which the Commission had been doing. To this end, IOM has accompanied the development of diagnostics on the management of land, air and sea borders; it has donated specialized equipment to strengthen national databases; it has provided bi-national and interagency trainings to boder officers; and has made repairs to the infrastructure of land borders.

Major agreements executed (1990-2015) in the framework of the OCAM:

a) Central American Passport.- In February 2005, the minimum standards that the passports must have were approved which included the design, safety measures and biographical fields. The presidents supported the decision in subsequent statements. El Salvador started the first edition, which conforms to agreed standards, in September 2007.

b) Entry and Exit Card (TIE) .- The TIE is designed as a landmark security and immigration control. It was adopted solely to carry statistical control and emerged through the Statistical Information System on Migration in Central America (SIEMCA). Nowadays, the collection of statistical information based on thiscard is the responsibility of the Directorates of Immigration .

c) CA-4 card.- It became an additional travel document to the TIE in intra-regional migratory movement. It involved the ease of not require passports to travel between these countries. In May 2004, the presidents ordered its immediate removal, making it a mere historical and reference document of the integration process.

d) Vehicle Documentation.- The Central American Vehicle Register is still not a reality, but the paperless free passage across internal borders of the CA-4 space is notorious.

e) Central American Resident Identity Card.- The Directors of the CA-4 Region approved, just like as for the Central American Passport, the characteristics of the card that each of the countries provides its foreign residents. Using the Standards and Procedures for the Free Mobility in the CA-4 Region Manual, it was agreed to treat them as nationals, to provide free movement, to the foreigners who are resident in any of the countries of the region, regardless of their nationality .

f) Short Pass to the Coast.- Is the processing document for maritime migration flows in the various ports of embarkation, which aims to facilitate the entry within a defined geographical area to the crew of the ships and other vessels that dock in port.

g) General Standardization and Disposal of TIE by land and in some countries by air (El Salvador and Honduras).

h) Statistical Information System on Migration in Central America (SIEMCA) Project .- IOM, in collaboration with ECLAC-CELADE, implemented a project to establish an information system on migration in Central America, through the coordination and harmonization of data generated by different sources in the countries, to identify and monitor the magnitude and characteristics of international movements.

i) Modernization actions of migration management in Central America and the Dominican Republic Project.- this comes from the study "State of Migration Management in Central America: applied research" in this project activities were aimed at strengthening progress in the migration management.

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Actions arising from the Presidential Agreement CA-4

The CA-4 Presidential Agreement signed between the presidents of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, allows the free transit of nationals of the signatory countries without using passport and with migration expedited procedures. The abolition of visas for citizens from member countries of the Agreement, the facilitation of transit through expedited documentation are some of the results of the agreements held by OCAM in this area.

It is also important to note that the OCAM has developed activities not only to comply with the CA-4 agreements but also to optimize its implementation. Such is the case of the CA-4 forms that, during this time, have undergone substantial modifications to adapt its format and content to new safety standards implemented in the region. Also actions under the agreement creating the Central American Single Visa for the free movement of foreigners among the Republics of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

The agreement aims to create one Central American visa, standardizing the requirements and procedures for the entry of foreigners based on the classification of countries: Category "A" - exemptions of visas for foreigners; Category "B" - for foreigners who require consular visa; Category "C" - for foreigners who require endorsement of the Directorates General of Immigration for an entry visa. 

It also defines the intermediate and peripheral migratory delegations, gives rise to the creation of the Committee for Certification of Visas (VUCA) formed by the Directorate of Immigration and the Directorate of Consular Affairs of the Foreign Ministrie.

Regional Conference on Migration (RCM)

Consistent to its principles to work for the most vulnerable populations, IOM actively participates in the Regional Conference on Migration (RCM). The RCM is an intergovernmental forum established in 1996 to support the dialogue and exchange of ideas and experiences for joint reflection and cooperation on migration issues of common interest to the participating countries.

The Member States of the RCM are: Belize, Canada, Costa Rica, El Salvador, United States, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and the Dominican Republic. The RCM includes, as observers,  Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Jamaica and Peru. Meanwhile, international organizations currently participating as observers are: the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR); the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC / CELADE); the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH); IOM; the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights of Migrants of the United Nations Organization; the General Secretariat of the Ibero-American Summit (SEGIB); the Central American Integration System (SICA); the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The role of international organizations in the RCMis to support the implementation of some projects that governments determine, also to provide information on the status of the situation of topics of interest, provide technical advice and recommendations on specific issues.

Statistical Information System on Migration in Mesoamerica

The concern to know the dynamics of migration and its links to development, through the establishment of appropriate information systems, has been repeatedly recognized by governments in the region and has had a significant presence in many international meetings.

This same need is highlighted by the RCM and OCAM, who asked IOM to develop a migration information system for Central America. Thus the SIEMCA is created, which begins in January 2001, and is implemented by IOM. From April 2005, the SIEMCA becomes the Statistical Information System on Migration in Mesoamerica (SIEMMES), which seeks to continue and extend the progress made by the SIEMCA with the addition of Mexico to the System, and by expanding itsthematic content.