Military Families Stay Together Thanks to New Immigration Policy

Earlier this month, USCIS announced a policy change that would allow the immediate family (spouses, children and parents) of active military personnel who are in the process of applying to obtain their greencard, to potentially remain in the U.S. by being granted “parole in place.”

This policy shift is a good faith step by this administration to reconcile its stance in favor of immigration reform but keep its promise to ensure family unity, stemming from years of efforts by various groups and congresspersons.

Parole in place, has been highlighted in the USCIS’ recent announcement as a tool that will help to “minimize periods of family separation, and to facilitate adjustment of status within the United States by immigration ­­who are spouses, parents and children of military members.”

WHAT EXACTLY IS PAROLE IN PLACE?

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, individuals who are “admitted or paroled” into the U.S. are eligible to apply for permanent residence without having to leave the U.S. to apply at a consulate or embassy abroad.  USCIS has the discretion to allow certain foreign immigrants, who initially entered the country without inspection, to remain in the U.S. and be eligible to apply for permanent residence by obtaining parole in place.

Previously, a small category of individuals were eligible for parole in place so long as all requirements were met.  The latest policy announcement has expanded parole in place to the immediate family members of active military personnel.

The effect of obtaining parole in place will enable the immigrant family member to stay in the U.S. with their U.S. military family member, in order to await the decision of a greencard application.

For more background on how parole in place for military personnel evolved in the past few years, please click here for an 2011 article written by immigration attorney and MacArthur Foundation Fellow Margaret Stock.

HOW TO APPLY FOR PAROLE IN PLACE?

In its policy memo, USCIS indicated that requests for parole in place must be made to the USICS office where the immigrant currently resides.   Not everyone will qualify for parole in place.  The following documentation should be included:

  • Completed Form I-131 (fee not necessarily required)
  • Evidence of family relationship to the U.S. military member
  • Evidence of U.S. military member’s active duty status
  • Color passport style photographs (two)
  • Additional evidence that may be relevant to the request

HOW LONG WILL A GRANT OF PAROLE IN PLACE BE?

If granted PIP, the applicant would be authorized for parole in place for up to one year and renewable if necessary.

GETTING ASSISTANCE FOR PAROLE IN PLACE

Depending on an immigrant’s situation, some immigrants may not be the best qualified to request parole in place.  Attorneys assisting immigrants with parole in place requests should ensure they have the latest updates on this development.