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Parole in Place may Provide Immigration Benefits for U.S. Military Families

What is Military Parole in Place?

Sensing the dimming prospects for Immigration Reform in 2013, the Presidential Administration has acted to provide immediate support to military families.

On November 15, 2013, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) released a nine-page Policy Memorandum, entitled “Parole of Spouses, Children and Parents of Active Duty Members of the U.S. Armed Forces, the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve, and Former Members of the U.S. Armed Forces or Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve and the Effect of Parole on Inadmissibility under Immigration and Nationality Act § 212(a)(6)(A)(i)”.  The Memorandum clarifies and publicizes existing policy, permitting immigration officers to “parole in place” immigrant spouses, children and parents of U.S. service members, reservists and veterans.

Eligible applicants will receive work permits, and, in some cases will be permitted to apply for adjustment of status (see below). Granted under Section 212(d)(5)(A) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), parole in place will be authorized in one-year increments, with extensions available as appropriate.

The release of the Policy Memorandum follows several years of internal debates within USCIS over how to deal with soldiers with relatives who could be subjected to deportation, particularly during their deployment.  The intention is that service members can go about their duties without the uncertainty of the immigration status of their family members.

Limits on Military Parole in Place

Requests for parole in place will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by USCIS, and may not be granted where criminal convictions or other “serious adverse factors” are present.  The decision to grant parole in place is discretionary.

Furthermore, while parole in place will make someone temporarily “legally present” in the U.S. for one year at a time, not all immigrants will be able to parlay a grant of parole in place into an application for permanent residence (“Green Card”).

A grant of parole in place will erase unlawful-status ineligibilities under INA Section 212(a)(6)(A)(i)—meaning, in short, that a successful applicant will be deemed “legally present” in the U.S. despite having entered the U.S. without authorization. In order to go from this step to being able to apply for permanent residence, the person must be eligible to adjust status.

Eligibility to adjust status requires that the applicant be “admissible” under INA Section 245(a)(2). While parole in place will eliminate some inadmissibility grounds, it will not eliminate the requirement that the applicant must have “maintain[ed] continuously a lawful status since entry into the United States.” under INA Section 245(c)(2).

Parole does not erase any periods of prior unlawful status. Thus, an immigrant who entered without inspection will remain ineligible for adjustment, even after a grant of parole, unless he or she is petitioned for adjustment of status by an immediate relative or falls within one of the other designated exemptions. A person in this situation can receive parole—they can stay in the U.S. lawfully and work—but adjustment of status might be out of reach. It is also important to note that even an applicant who satisfies all the statutory prerequisites for adjustment of status additionally requires the favorable exercise of discretion.

Military Parole in Place – Final Thoughts

Along with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)—which allows young immigrants in the country unlawfully a reprieve from deportation and work permits for two years—and procedural changes regarding how immigration officers are to treat potential deportees that are parents of young children, this military-related Policy Memorandum is an administrative measure undertaken by the Administration to provide an immigration benefit in the absence of comprehensive immigration reform.

For information on whether a person qualifies for military parole in place, the specifics in a given situation should be discussed with an experienced immigration Law Firm.

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