Parole in Place: Administrative Relief for Military Families
On November 15, 2013, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) issued a memorandum establishing a policy known as “Parole in Place” (“PIP”) for immediate family members of military-service members. The purpose of PIP is to honor military-service members who have sacrificed and served our country. USCIS has committed itself to making the adjustment of status process easier for their immediate family members. As such, PIP allows those immediate family members that have a past unlawful entry, but otherwise qualify for a green card based on an immediate family relationship, to potentially obtain a green card without leaving the United States.
Only immediate family members of military-service members may apply for PIP. In order to qualify as an immediate family member of a military-service member, an individual must be a spouse, unmarried child (under age 21), or parent of a U.S. citizen who is serving or has served as a member of the U.S. Armed Forces, Selected Reserve, or Ready Reserve.
PIP & Inadmissibility Issues:
Inadmissibility means an individual is barred from adjustment of status (obtaining a green card”) based on his or her history of criminal, immigration, or other security violations. PIP eliminates at least two grounds of inadmissibility for immediate family members. Both inadmissibility grounds can be found in the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”) section 212(a)(6)(A)(i).
The first inadmissibility ground PIP eliminates relates to any noncitizen “present in the U.S. without being admitted [inspected by a border official] or paroled.” The second inadmissibility ground that PIP eliminates relates to any noncitizen who “arrives in the United States at any time or place other than as designated by the [Secretary of Homeland Security].” Both inadmissibility issues, in effect, claim that an individual entered the United States unlawfully and therefore may be barred from adjustment of status.
With an approved PIP application, an immediate family member is retroactively “paroled” into the United States, which means the previous unlawful entry may now be considered a one-time approved entry. An immediate family member who is paroled no longer faces the above-mentioned inadmissibility issues. This means immediate family members who face penalties such as the three- and ten-year bars for unlawful presence will no longer have to worry about consular processing or the need to obtain a waiver. They can simply apply for PIP, become retroactively “paroled,” and then proceed with the adjustment of status process to obtain their green card—all without leaving the U.S.
Although a positive step for immediate family members, PIP still has its shortcomings. While PIP can retroactively grant parole, it cannot remove additional inadmissibility issues such as those associated with criminal convictions or other security concerns. Moreover, PIP is granted only on a “discretionary” basis, which means USCIS does not have to approve it. As such, it is very important to provide evidence of positive factors such as an explanation of the hardship the military member will face if USCIS does not grant the applicant retroactive parole and proof of the applicant’s good character.
In order to apply for PIP, an applicant must submit Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, along with evidence of (i) the familial relationship to the U.S. citizen military-service member, (ii) proof of the military-service member’s military status, and (iii) any other favorable discretionary factors USCIS should consider.
After USCIS has reviewed the application, it may decide to interview the applicant. Typically these are short interviews. Nevertheless, if USCIS believes it needs more information, it may conduct a more extensive interview.
Once the PIP application is approved, an individual can then proceed with filing a family petition filed by the U.S. citizen military-service person and an adjustment of status application, all at the same time.
USCIS Filing Fees:
There is no fee for this application pursuant to 8 C.F.R. 103.7(d).
Eligibility to Work in the United States:
If an individual is approved for PIP, he or she is eligible to apply to work lawfully in the United States. The Employment Authorization Document is issued for one year and must be renewed each year.
Please note this is an overview of immigration benefits under the PIP program and is not meant to be legal advice. Soberalski Immigration Law has experience preparing applications under the PIP and is able to help you with the process. Please contact our office to schedule an appointment if you have questions about your eligibility or about the process in general.