On November 15, 2013, the Department of Homeland Security issued a policy memorandum instructing the USCIS to favorably exercise the agency’s discretion in granting parole to individuals, “who illegally entered the United States and are a spouse, child, or parent of an active duty member of the U.S. Armed Forces, the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve, or a former member of the U.S. Armed Forces or Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve.” Pursuant to the memorandum, a request for parole should be generally granted unless the individual has a criminal conviction or there are other serious adverse factors.

The rationale of this new policy is to alleviate the stress and anxiety of military members, veterans, and their families caused by the immigration status of their family members and “to help military dependents secure permanent immigration status in the United States as soon as possible.”

Pursuant to Section 212(a)(6)(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (“Act”), an alien who entered the United States without inspection is inadmissible. That means that such person would be subject to removal/deportation and, most importantly, cannot adjust his/her status in the United States even if s/he has a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (“LPR”) spouse, child, or parent who petitioned for him/her. To make things worse, even if the person leaves the United States and applies for a visa abroad, s/he may be subject to a 10-year bar to reenter the United States associated with her prior unlawful presence.The new policy created a remedy for individuals in the situation described above. However, this remedy is only available to those unlawfully present in the United States, who are a spouse, child, or parent of a U.S. military member or a veteran.

How does Parole in Place, “PIP”, help?

According to the memorandum, a parole may be granted in one-year increments with the possibility of re-parole every year. If paroled, the individual can remain in the United States without bearing a risk of being placed in removal proceedings. Once paroled, the individual is considered as being lawfully admitted to the Unites States. However, the parole in itself does not bestow any immigrant status on such individual.

Adjustment of Status

Perhaps the most important implication of this new policy is that, once paroled, an individual may be eligible to adjust his/her status to LPR (i.e. to apply for a “green card”) without leaving the United States. However, in order to apply for a “green card” there must be an immigrant visa petition filed on behalf of that individual.

Who Should Apply?

According to the memorandum, the USCIS should favorably exercise its discretion in granting parole requests of individuals, who are a spouse, child, or parent of a military member or veteran. Parole in place could be a viable option for a family member who illegally (i.e. “without inspection”) entered the United States and who is not eligible to adjust his/her status under Section 245(i) of the Act or other special adjustment category. Who is not eligible. The new policy applies only to inadmissibility based on unlawful entry to the United States and, by implication, should not apply to other grounds of inadmissibility. For instance, a person with prior criminal convictions will likely to be ineligible for the parole.

How to Apply?

Generally, a request for parole can be filed with a local office of the USCIS and should address the hardship to the military member caused by the immigration status of his or her alien relative. Since the USCIS has discretion in granting parole requests, it advisable to include all relevant information regarding the military service of the qualifying relative, the nature and extend of the hardship, and the basis for adjustment of status, if any. The applicant should also enclose documents substantiating the facts stated in the request.It is important to remember that certain facts and circumstances related to person’s criminal and/or immigration history may affect his/her eligibility for parole. For this reason, before applying for parole, we strongly recommend that you consult with your immigration attorney and have your case evaluated on its own merits.

If you or your loved ones may benefit under the new policy, you are welcome to schedule a consultation with one of the attorneys at Cella & Associates to review your case and determine eligibility for parole based on specific facts of your case.

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