With the immigration reform debate stalling in Congress, president Obama took executive action to provide relief for undocumented relatives of U.S. military personnel. This directive minimizes bureaucratic confusion on the part of immigration officials and allows qualified individuals to go through the adjustment of status process within the United States – “parole in place.”
The purpose of this program is to assist members of the U.S. Armed Forces in securing permanent immigration status in the United States for their family members. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has launched a number of initiatives to assist military members, veterans, and their families to secure permanent immigration status in the United States. Among the tools listed by USCIS was “parole … to minimize periods of family separation, and to facilitate adjustment of status within the United States by immigrants who are the spouses, parents and children of military members.”
The fact that the individual is a spouse, child or parent of a veteran or an active member of the U.S. Armed Forces weighs heavily in favor of parole in place. Absent a criminal conviction or other serious adverse factors, parole in place would generally be an appropriate exercise of discretion for such an individual. If USCIS decides to grant parole in that situation, the parole should be authorized in one-year increments, with re-parole as appropriate.
Who is Eligible?
Immediate relatives who entered the U.S. without inspection and are still present in the U.S. are eligible for a “parole in place” and adjustment of status. The following members of the U.S. Armed Forces may petition for parole in place for their family members who are present without admission or parole:
- Those serving in active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces,
- Those serving in the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve,
- Those previously served in the U.S. Armed Forces,
- Those previously served in the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve.
The following family members are eligible for parole in place and further adjustment of status:
- Immediate relatives of the U.S. citizen who is a member of the U.S. Armed Forces
- Immediate relatives are spouses, children, and parents.
- Immediate relatives who entered the U.S. without inspection and are still present in the U.S.
- Relatives who do not qualify as “immediate” and who can prove a continuously lawful status since entry into the U.S.
To request parole in place, the alien must submit to the director of the USCIS office with jurisdiction over the alien’s place of residence:
- Completed Form I-131, Application for Travel Document
- Form I-131 may be filed without fee, per 8 CFR 103.7(d);
- Evidence of the family relationship;
- Evidence that the alien’s family member is an Active Duty member of the U.S. Armed Forces, individual in the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve or an individual who previously served in the U.S. Armed Forces or the Selected Reserve or the Ready Reserve such as a photocopy of both the front and back of the service member’s military identification card (DD Form 1173);
- Two identical, color, passport style photographs; and
- Evidence of any additional favorable discretionary factors that the requestor wishes considered.
***Although an alien who entered the United States without inspection remains ineligible for adjustment of status even after grant of parole in place, unless the alien is an immediate relative of the U.S. citizen, this legislation provides a path towards parole and adjustment of status for a large group of individuals who entered the U.S. without inspection and qualify as immediate relatives of U.S. Armed Forces personnel.
Niko Druzhinin is a legal assistant at Lipman & Wolf, LLP and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Global Policy Studies at the Lyndon Baines Johnson School of Public Affairs in the University of Texas at Austin. Niko received his Bachelor’s degree from UC Santa Barbara in Global and International Studies with an emphasis in the Latin America region. Niko is fluent in Spanish and Russian. If you have questions or comments about the article, please contact us.