Parole in Place for Families of U.S. Military Service Men & Women

One would think that if our politicians could come to an agreement on any form of immigration reform, it would involve benefits for the families of those willing to lay down their lives for the benefit of our country.
Sadly, such is not the case. However, in the last couple of years, the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) has begun conferring some benefits to military members and their families. One such benefit is parole in place.

Why Parole in Place?
In most cases, individuals who enter the United States without inspection cannot apply for adjustment of status from within the United States even if they have married a U.S. citizen.
Instead, they must return to their home countries where they apply for and are interviewed for admission into the United States. Known as consular processing, this ordeal can lead to very lengthy family separations.
Parole in place is a process that allows immediate relatives of active duty military servicemen and women to remain in the United States. If parole in place is granted, the spouse may then be eligible to file for adjustment of status from within the United States, and if approved, he or she would become a lawful permanent resident.

Applying for Parole in Place
Parole in place is granted by the District Director of the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) office having jurisdiction over the family’s place of residence. The relief is considered on a case by case basis and is highly discretionary.
Because parole in place is a relatively new form of relief, no formal guidelines have been issued. Applicants typically begin the process by filing Form I-131 with the local USCIS office together with the filing fee of $360.00 and an $85.00 biometric fee.
Common documents that may be required (but not always) to be filed with the I-131 include:
  • A hardship letter drafted in the name of the service member
  • The service member’s birth certificate
  • The spouse’s birth certificate
  • The birth certificates of any children
  • The marriage certificate
  • Evidence of a bona fide marriage (bills, lease agreements, mortgages, photos, affidavits from family members and friends, mailings, etc.)
  • The family member’s military family member identification card
  • A copy of Defense Eligibility Enrollment Reporting System enrollment documentation for the family member
  • Two original passport photos of the family member
  • A copy of any deployment orders for the service member
  • Any additional documents substantiating the case for hardship
When parole in place is granted, the family member will receive a parole document in the form of an I-94 card. Upon receipt, he or she may proceed with the next steps necessary to adjust status which may vary.

What are the Risks?
By applying for parole in place, the undocumented status of the family member is brought to the attention of the federal government. If parole in place is not granted, there is always the possibility one could be placed in removal (deportation) proceedings.
For this reason, it is absolutely essential to be completely forthcoming about your immigration and criminal histories with an immigration attorney. You should inform your attorney of all arrests, charges and convictions. You should also be up front about the number of times you have attempted to enter the United States and whether or not you have ever committed any immigration violations.
Only after considering such information can an attorney accurately determine whether or not you are an ideal candidate for parole in place.
Even so, there are no guarantees of success. Parole in place is not always applied consistently by USCIS field offices throughout the country. In addition, like most forms of immigration relief, officers have wide discretion to approve or deny a request for parole in place. As a result, even if you qualify, the process will not necessarily be easy or successful.

Parole in place can provide a great benefit for the families of active duty U.S. military personnel. If granted, it can help reduce the stress associated with the immigration process suffered by eliminating the necessity of a lengthy family separation. It can also reduce the uncertainty that is so prevalent in the homes of families with undocumented family members.
For a great resource on parole in place published by the American Bar Association, look here.


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