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Humanitarian Parole and Reinstatement Explained

Humanitarian causes are considered by immigration officials in determining whether to grant a foreign national emergency entry into the U.S. (without a visa) or whether to reinstate a petition following the petitioner’s passing away. Below is an outline of these two rare procedures, which, if successful, permit entry to the U.S. either temporarily or, in the case of reinstatement, on a permanent resident basis.

Humanitarian Parole

Under Section 212(d)(5)(A) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), the Immigration Service (USCIS) may parole a foreign national into the U.S. for a temporary period of time due to urgent humanitarian reasons.

People in need of shelter and/or aid from disasters, oppression, medical issues and other urgent conditions can be considered by the USCIS in deciding whether to grant parole. The circumstances must be truly extraordinarily and properly documented in order to stand a chance of approval. Applications are decided on a case-by-case basis and proof of the humanitarian cause to the individual (not just their general region) must be submitted.

A grant of Humanitarian Parole permits someone (with no other basis by which to enter) entry to the U.S. for a temporary period, and allows them the opportunity to receive work authorization. Generally, parole is granted for the period of time which the underlying compelling circumstances exist. While one must be outside of the U.S. to apply for Humanitarian Parole, they can apply to extend their parole once in the U.S.

Many make the mistake of filing for Humanitarian Parole at the U.S. Embassy. The benefit is not decided by the Department of State at an embassy, rather, the application is filed with the USCIS headquarters in Washington D.C. Usually, USCIS will render its decision on an application within two-to-five months, and in some circumstances, much faster. If approved, the parole travel document is typically made available at the closest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Humanitarian Reinstatement

Humanitarian factors also play a critical role in seeking Reinstatement of a revoked petition. When the petitioner of a family-based petition with a beneficiary residing abroad passes away, the petition is automatically revoked. However, if “for humanitarian reasons revocation would be inappropriate,” USCIS has the discretion under 8 C.F.R. 205.1(a)(3)(i)(C) to reinstate the petition. Unlike the Humanitarian Parole procedure (permitting temporary entry), a successful Reinstatement may permit permanent immigration.

In evaluating requests for Reinstatement, USCIS will evaluate the totality of the humanitarian circumstance. A number of conditions—including those affecting both the beneficiary and other family members—can be considered, and USCIS will often look to the following factors, enumerated in the Department of State’s Foreign Affairs Manual (9 FAM 42.42 PN2):

  • Disruption of an established family unit;
  • Hardship to U.S. citizen or lawful permanent residents;
  • Whether the Beneficiary is elderly or in poor health;
  • Whether the Beneficiary has previously been to or lived in the U.S.;
  • Whether the Beneficiary has no home to go to;
  • Undue delay by immigration officials in processing a petition or visa;
  • Whether the Beneficiary has strong family ties in the United States

As a prerequisite to the beneficiary’s immigration based on a reinstated petition, a substitute sponsor is required. The substitute sponsor must be a close family member, i.e., the spouse, parent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, sister, brother, son, daughter, son-in-law, or daughter-in-law of the beneficiary. Like all other family-based immigration, the substitute sponsor must prove an annual income equal to at least 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.

The human toll in the aftermath of a natural disaster, and the grief experienced in losing a loved one can leave the survivor feeling hopeless beyond words. Under certain circumstances, Parole or Reinstatement may be applicable and provide some relief. An expert immigration attorney can evaluate which if any, options exist in a given situation.

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