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Expansion of Parole in Place Benefits to Family Members of Military Enlistees

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Expansion of Parole in Place Benefits to Family Members of Military Enlistees

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Contributed by Amber L. Blasingame, Associate Attorney, Colorado Springs

President Obama’s Executive Action announced on November 20, 2014, expands in Parole in Place to family of US Citizens and Permanent Residents who are “seeking to enlist” in the military. Secretary Jeh Johnson’s memorandum published on the same day as the President’s announcement would widen the pool of eligible beneficiaries of parole in place and procedures published by US Citizenship and Immigration Services in November 2013.

Parole in place permits an applicant for permanent residence, who is otherwise eligible, to adjust status in the United States, even if the applicant entered the United States without inspection. A person who has been lawfully admitted or paroled into the United States, who has an immigrant visa available, may apply for permanent residence under INA § 245(a) without having to leave the United States for consular processing. The Department of Homeland Security may offer parole in the discretion of the Attorney General “on a case-by-case basis for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.” Parole “in place” allows an applicant who may have previously entered without inspection to be “paroled” into the United States without having to first leave the United States to correct the prior entry, thus extending to the applicant the equivalent of a lawful admission.

The spouse, parents, or children of a United States Citizen benefit the most from parole in place. Because the Immigration and Nationality Act forgives any period of unauthorized stay or employment for the “immediate relative” of a US Citizen and allows the person to adjust if she provides evidence of a lawful entry. However, parole in place is also available for the immediate family members of Lawful Permanent Residents. In the latter case, the family would be allowed to adjust status upon issuance of parole in place, but may have to qualify for and submit a waiver of any unlawful presence in the United States of six months or more.

The memorandum published in November 2013, provided a more structured process by which family members of enlisted or retired military personnel could obtain parole in place. Previously the documentation and eligibility for parole in place was up to the individual field offices. The November 2013 memorandum not only provided a form and required documents, but also clarified who was eligible, including the spouses, parents, and children of active duty and retired or honorably discharged military personnel.

In an effort to comply with President Obama’s executive action and increase military recruitment, the November 2014 memorandum now expands the benefit of parole in place to the immediately family members of US Citizens or Permanent Residents “seeking to enlist” in the military who have not yet been assigned as active duty. The memorandum also “direct[s] USCIS to consider” offering deferred action to the family of service members and veterans who entered lawfully into the United States but may not be eligible for other immigration benefits.

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