Parole in place may help military families achieve their green card dreams

With the holidays right around the corner, we especially love to see the many heartwarming stories of military personnel reunited with their families. According to the U.S. Government there are over 1,455,375 active personnel in the US military today. Of that, about 114,601 are foreign-born nationals, making up almost 8% of the United States military.  Many people are unaware that there are several immigration benefits given to those serving our country, as well as their families. Our next few blog posts will be examining those benefits. Today in particular we are going to talk about a benefit known as “parole in place.”

What is Parole in Place?

Parole in place is a program in which immigration authorities grant illegal immigrants, who have military family members, the right to stay in the United States in order to obtain lawful status. This is opposed to the old method, in which undocumented immigrants would have to leave the country in order to collect visas they applied for through marriage to an American citizen or some other family tie. The problem with that system was that once the foreign national left the United States, many were barred from returning to the U.S. for as long as 10 years.

The new parole in place policy is a huge relief to many military families. For many years, soldiers have been worried that while they are deployed on duty their loved ones could be sent back to their home country with little or no notice – and no timely recourse.

President Obama issued the parole in place policy as of November 15, 2013. However, even before that, parole in place was in existence as a special administrative remedy.  In practice, the program was revealed to have significant flaws. Many immigration officers were unaware of the remedy and in turn wrongly advised immigrants that they must return home. This led to many inconsistencies and confusion in the implementation of the program.  The new parole in place policy seeks to prevent many of those situations occurring in the future.

The policy is extended to all active-duty members of the armed forces, to reservists including the National Guard, and to all veterans. Their spouses, children and parents will be eligible for parole in place. The U.S. government believes tens of thousands of immigrants could be affected by this new policy.

 Who is eligible?

A grant of parole under the parole in place guidelines helps individuals who entered the U.S. without being inspected – usually meaning they crossed a border illegally.  This is important because a person who hasn’t been lawfully admitted to the U.S., cannot adjust status to a green card holder.  Parole in place “fixes” the unlawful entry to allow for adjustment of status – as long as the individual otherwise qualifies for a green card.

Parole in place is not a RIGHT.  It is granted at the discretion of the Adjudicator.  However, according to a November 15, 2013 USCIS Policy Memorandum, “The fact that the individual is a spouse, child or parent of an Active Duty member of the U.S. Armed Forces, or the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve or an individual who previously served in the U.S. Armed Forces or the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve … weighs heavily in the favor of parole in place.”  Other factors, such as the criminal history of the foreign national, are also considered.

How to I obtain the benefits of parole in place?

Since the program is only a few weeks old, it is highly recommended that anyone considering applying for parole in place seeks a consultation with an immigration attorney. Our U.S. Immigration Attorneys are ready to assist you to cross the border with confidence.  Contact us to schedule a consultation.

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