Military “Parole in place” (PIP) is a program utilized in recent years to assist the family members of U.S. military personnel in becoming residents or citizens of the United States. Previously, military families often faced major immigration issues in cases where the spouses, children, or parents of military personnel had immigrated to the United States unlawfully. Due to an improper entry or unlawful presence in the U.S., such persons would be considered inadmissible and would be barred from applying for an adjustment of status to become permanent residents. Instead, they would have to leave the United States for consular processing, and in most cases, go through the waiver process. If they are not eligible for a waiver, they may have to remain abroad for as long as ten years, and only then would they be eligible to go through consular processing in their home country.
Origins of parole in place
Parole in place is not a new program. It was a response to strong demand and public outcry in 2007, during the Bush Administration. A member of the U.S. Army, Alex Jimenez, was declared MIA in Iraq (and later was determined to have been killed in action), shortly after he had filed paperwork to seek lawful resident status for his wife. However, it was determined that she had previously entered the U.S. unlawfully, and was therefore ineligible for residency, and was to be deported.
When the situation came to the attention of the public, a number of government officials publicly voiced indignation at the idea of an American soldier’s family being denied citizenship. Then Secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, ultimately chose to grant Jimenez’s wife “discretionary parole,” which allowed her to successfully adjust her status and receive a green card.
Over subsequent years, the concept of “discretionary parole” was expanded and revised through a series of policy changes and executive actions, and came to be known as the “military parole in place” program.
What is military parole in place?
Military “Parole in place” is a process by which certain relatives of American service members, who previously entered the country unlawfully, are granted eligibility for an adjustment of status, as well as employment authorization and access to certain benefits. Though the program does grant a temporary, one year work permit, parole in place does not automatically confer residency or citizenship. It simply allows the persons in question to remain in the country while they go through the adjustment in status process.
Who is eligible for parole in place?
Currently, the spouses, parents, and children of (1) active duty members of the armed forces, (2) military reserve members, or (3) previous members of the armed forces, selected reserve, or ready reserve. However, the typical grounds of inadmissibility do not apply in the case of parole in place, as the granting of parole in place is discretionary in nature. A grant of parole in place does not eliminate past immigration violations, criminal history, or other grounds of inadmissibility. This means that previous criminal conduct or convictions, or other immigration issues which come to light during the necessary background checks may result in an applicant being denied legal status at the time of adjustment, even though they may have been granted parole in place.
Update! In November of 2014, the Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson issued a memorandum instructing the USCIS to expand the PIP program to include the family members of US citizens and residents who are actively seeking to enlist in the US military.
How do you apply for parole in place?
In order for a family member to apply for parole in place status, in general, the following must be provided:
- Evidence of relationship to a qualifying armed forces member.
- Evidence of that relative’s current or past enlistment in the armed forces or reserves, such as a military ID card.
- A completed copy of Form I-131, the USCIS’s Application for Travel Document.
- Two passport style photos
- Any other evidence that would place the applicant in a positive light—family hardships, activity in their community, etc.
Contact a knowledgeable attorney for the specific details that may apply to your particular case, as well as any issues that may arise. Parole in place is only the first step to the process of applying for permanent residency, so it’s a good idea to have reliable guidance through your whole journey.