The USCIS recently issued a policy memorandum clarifying the grant of parole to families of military members and veterans who are already in the United States and who entered without inspection. This allows them to remain in the country and apply for green cards, if eligible. The policy also clarifies that adjustment of status may be granted to aliens paroled into the US.
Parole that is typically 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. The policy clarified that aliens who are physically present in the US but who entered without inspection or admission may also be granted parole. This is called “parole in place.”
Under the current law, an individual cannot adjust his status even if he is the spouse, parent or child of a U.S. citizen if he entered the U.S. without admission or parole. For him to get a green card, he has to travel abroad to a U.S. consulate. However, once he leaves the U.S. he will be subject to the 3 year/10 year inadmissibility bar. If he is granted parole he does not have to depart and may adjust status in the U.S.
The new policy was issued to address concerns that the members of the military could face stress and anxiety because of the immigration status of their family members. This has the potential effect of adversely affecting military preparedness.
Many of those serving in the military are foreign-born. Since 2002 over 92,700 have become U.S. citizens. Data from the Department of Defense in 2011 showed that Mexico (12 percent) and the Philippines (10 percent) were the leading countries of origin for immigrants in the military.
Eligible family members specified in the policy memorandum include the 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 U.S. Armed Forces or the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve which includes the National Guard.
The Secretary’s authority to grant parole is discretionary. However, the memorandum emphasized that one of the factors which weigh heavily in favor of parole in place is when the applicant is a spouse, child or parent of an Active Duty member or an individual who previously served in the U.S. Armed Forces or the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve.
If the applicant has no criminal convictions and absent other serious adverse factors, parole in place would generally be granted in the exercise of discretion. Parole is granted in one-year increments and request for extension may be granted, if appropriate.
Request for parole is made on Form I-131 and is filed with the director of the USCIS office with jurisdiction over the alien’s place of residence. Evidence of family relationship as well as evidence of the alien’s family member is an Active Duty member or an individual who previously served in the U.S. Armed Forces or the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve must be submitted with the application.
When parole is granted, the two inadmissibility grounds under the immigration law are eliminated. The first inadmissibility ground relates to an alien who is “present in the United States without being admitted or paroled,” or those who already entered the US without inspection. The second inadmissibility ground relates to the alien “who arrives in the United States at any time or place other than as designated by the [Secretary of the Homeland Security].” This refers to aliens who are in the process of entering the US without inspection.
An applicant for adjustment of status must comply with the other requirements such as maintenance of status if he is not an immediate relative or Section 245(k) does not apply. He also must satisfy all the other grounds of inadmissibility.