Many people are shocked to learn that military service members and their families have immigration issues just like any other person. The immigration system is complex and impacts military service members and their families just like everyone else. However, there are special laws, regulations and policies that provide favorable treatment for military service members, veterans and their families. In addition to expedited citizenship, we now have “parole in place.”
WHAT IS PAROLE IN PLACE?
On November 2013, United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) outlined in a policy memo, how parole in place may help immediate family members of U.S. service members gain permanent residency (“green cards”). This initiative is designed to assist military members whose immediate family members are present in the U.S. without having first been properly admitted by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. This policy provides a way for these close family members to obtain a green card and eases the stress of the military family during the process.
Generally, immigrants who are in the United States must have been properly admitted by Customs and Border Patrol in order to be able to apply for a green card. If not properly admitted, an immigrant must first apply for a waiver and obtain their green card outside the United States. By exiting the United States after living in the country without authorization, immigrants are subject to a possible three or ten year penalty bar before they may return to the United States. Immigration law provides waivers in limited circumstances to forgive this three or ten year bar penalty. Parole in place serves to replace a valid admission to the United States allowing the immigrant to apply for a green card without exiting the country. The immigrant is thereby able to avoid triggering the three or ten year bar because no exit of the United States is necessary under this policy.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR PAROLE IN PLACE?
The following requirements must be met for a family member of a U.S. service member to qualify for parole in place.
The immigrant must be an “immediate relative” of a U.S. citizen (spouse, parent, or unmarried child under the age of 21);
The U.S. citizen must be a member of the military (active duty, current member of reserves, veteran);
The immigrant must be physically present in the United States;
The immigrant must have entered the United States without inspection or admission;
The immigration must have no serious criminal or other adverse factors present in his or her history.
The USCIS policy outlined in November states that absent a criminal or other serious adverse factor, parole in place would generally be granted to military family members. If USCIS grants an immigrant parole in place, the immigrant may apply for a visa and green card while remaining in the United States. The U.S. service member and the immigrant may then have an interview with USCIS before a green card is issued.
If you are a service member or immediate relative of a service member who is interested in parole in place, it is important that you review your case with an experienced immigration attorney before you begin. The attorney can help you determine eligibility and whether any other immigration issues are present.
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