by michael j. gurfinkel, esq
On November 15, 2013, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services issued a Policy Memorandum (“PM”) concerning “parole in place” for people who entered the US without inspection and are the spouse, child, and/or parent of those who are on active duty, reservists, or veterans (Armed Forces personnel).
In other words, certain relatives of Armed Forces personnel may be able to adjust status in the US, even if they entered the US without inspection (EWI) and do not have the benefit of section 245(i).
In the past, these family members were unable to adjust status in the US, and instead had to go back to their home country for immigrant visa processing, where they could face a 10 year bar from returning to the US, or possibly apply for a “provisional waiver.” This PM may allow them to adjust status in the US.
By way of background, a person may be “paroled” into the US for “urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit. ” It is typically utilized for people who are outside the US to enable them to come into the US. However, parole may also be granted to aliens who are already inside the US “without inspection or admission,” in which case it is called “parole in place”.
In the PM, the USCIS recognizes that active duty Armed Forces personnel “face stress and anxiety because of the immigration status of their family members in the United States.” Further, their military preparedness could be affected if they have to “worry about the immigration status of their spouses, parents and children.” Similarly, “our veterans, who have served and sacrificed for our nation, can face stress and anxiety because of the immigration status of their family members in the US”. Accordingly, this stress and anxiety by Armed Forces personnel could constitute an “urgent humanitarian reason or significant public benefit” for granting parole in place.
The basic requirements for eligibility are:
- You entered the US without inspection, and do not have the benefit of section 245(i)- i.e., you were not petitioned before April 30, 2001.
- You have been petitioned, and have a spouse, parent, or child who is on active duty, or is a veteran. (Note: LPRs can only petition for spouses or unmarried children; not parents)
- You do not have a criminal conviction or “other serious adverse factors”.
- Unfortunately, unless you are an immediate relative (spouse, parent, or child of a US citizen), you would have to be “in status,” which may affect the ability of family members of LPRs to adjust status, if they are already “out of status.”
If parole in place applies to you, you may be able to file for adjustment of status (be interviewed for a green card in America) even though you are EWI, or have no proof of inspection.
While the PM primarily deals with family members of Armed Forces personnel, I believe that parole in place may also be applied in other situations as well. For example, the PM itself clearly notes that it “applies to any paroled alien, not only to family members of Armed Forces personnel.” Thus, even if you are not being petitioned by an Armed Forces personnel, but your case involves “urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit,” then maybe you also could be eligible for parole in place. (For example, what about an EWI spouse of a paraplegic American who was not in the military? Or they have a special needs child. Ordinarily, they could not adjust status in the US, but it would seem to be an urgent humanitarian reason for allowing parole in place.
Similarly, based on the justification used in this policy memo, the Department of Homeland Security should be readily extending other immigration benefits to the family members of Armed Forces personnel in addition to this parole in place or adjustment of status. For example, if an Armed Forces personnel on active duty has a family member in removal\deportation, he or she is also going through a lot of stress and anxiety, such that DHS should consider other benefits, such as prosecutorial discretion, termination of proceedings, or other favorable discretionary consideration in connection with hardship or fraud waivers.
If you believe that you qualify for parole in place, or other forms of discretionary benefits, either because you have a family member who is an Armed Forces personnel, or your situation involves urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit, I would definitely suggest that you seek the advice of a reputable attorney, who can evaluate your eligibility and help you apply for this benefit.