The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced last October 2 that it was creating a new parole program allowing certain family members of Filipino World War II veterans to receive parole to enter the U.S. The new program was part of President Obama’s executive actions announced in November 2014 and was one of the recommendations in the July 2015 White House report, “Modernizing and Streamlining Our Legal Immigration System for the 21st century.”
The program would reunite qualified family members with their U.S. citizen or lawful permanent veteran family members in the U.S. An estimated 6,000 Filipino veterans who bravely fought for this country are still alive and living in the U.S., all of whom are now elderly and need their family’s care and support.
The DHS has not yet announced who would be eligible under the program but it is expected to include beneficiaries of family-based preference petitions such as F-1 (unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens), F-3 (married son and daughters of U.S citizens), and F-4 (brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens).
Because of the visa backlog, Filipino visa applicants under the above categories have been waiting for decades for their visa numbers. According to the October 2015 visa bulletin the cutoff date for F4 is May 1, 1992, F3 is October 1, 1993 and F1 is June 1, 2001.
Eligible family members of the veterans would have to request parole under the program. Parole that is granted by the Secretary of Homeland Security for “urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit” is used to permit an alien outside the United States to enter the country for a temporary period of time. The Secretary’s authority to grant parole is discretionary and decision will be made on a case-to-case basis.
A person granted parole status generally qualifies for a work authorization. It does not, however, grant the person a permanent right to remain in the U.S. nor does it lead to permanent resident status.
Immigrant rights advocates have long been fighting for the rights of Filipino World War II veterans who had been unjustly denied their benefits for many years before they were finally granted citizenship in the 1990s. Lawmakers such as Sen. Mazie Hirono has also proposed bills to expedite the visa process for the children of these veterans.
As aptly stated in her letter to the President, “As our World War II veterans age, they – like most elderly Americans – become more reliant on their families for care. Given that many Filipino veterans continue to experience difficulty obtaining veterans’ benefits for their service, it is particularly important that they have their children with them to assist with the care that they deserve.”
The DHS is expected to announce more details of the program in the coming months. It again warned against scammers and reiterated that they are not yet accepting requests for parole under this new program.