IMMIGRATION BENEFIT FOR CERTAIN FAMILY MEMBERS OF ACTIVE U.S. MILITARY AND VETERANS

In honor of Memorial Day being only days away, it came to mind that a blog about a little know immigration process might be both appropriate and helpful.

The undocumented spouses, parents, and minor children of U.S. citizens who are members or veterans of the U.S. military may have a path to a U.S. green card without having to leave the country. A grant of “Parole in Place” (or PIP) allows certain qualified individuals in the country who entered illegally to apply for lawful permanent residence through the process of Adjustment of Status.

PIP provides a path to adjustment of status by eliminating some of the hurdles that usually prevent someone who entered the U.S. without permission from qualifying. First, for regular adjustment of status cases, you must prove that entered the U.S. legally. The law states that an applicant must show that they were “inspected and admitted or paroled” to qualify for this process. When someone applies for a “parole” they are requesting permission to be in the United States legally for a brief period of time. If parole is granted through PIP, it’s as though U.S. immigration is granting you a “legal entry” to the country, without you actually having to leave and come back. You can send your application to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services while you are in the United States and have the parole permit sent to your U.S. address.

Second, to qualify for adjustment of status, you must prove you’re are “admissible” to the United States. Normally, someone who has entered the country illegally and remained here for longer than 6 months is not admissible without requesting a waiver and leaving back to their home country first. The PIP benefit removes this ground of inadmissibility and allows you to proceed with the adjustment of status application. Once PIP is approved, the parole permit issued to you is your proof that you have been admitted to the country legally and, even if you have lived in the U.S. several years without legal status, the PIP approval forgives your undocumented presence.

PIP approvals aren’t guaranteed just because you have a military or veteran family member. These permits are granted on a discretionary basis, meaning that an immigration officer doesn’t have to approve your application if they do not think it deserves to be approved. For example, if you might be inadmissible for other reasons, like a criminal conviction or prior deportations, you may not qualify.

A PIP application must be submitted to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) with the following documents:

  • Form I-131, Application for Travel Document
  • Evidence of your relationship (marriage, parent, or child) to a U.S. citizen military serviceperson or veteran
  • Evidence the U.S. citizen family member is an Active Duty member or veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces or in the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve.
  • Evidence of any additional factors you would like considered, such as evidence of your good moral character and any hardship to your family (financial issues, health problems, dangerous conditions in home country, etc).

Once USCIS receives and reviews your application, you will either receive an approval along with the parole permit, or, if more information is required for your case, a request for additional evidence or a notice for an interview. If an interview is requested, you and the military family member should plan on attending. Once you receive your PIP permit, your military family member can proceed to file the visa petition and your adjustment of status application along with a copy of the parole in place approval.

Whether or not the PIP policy will remain in place is uncertain. President Trump and his administration have issued executive orders to restrict the parole power of immigration officers in all situations, including through the PIP process. However, as of the date of this blog, USCIS is still processing and approving these cases.

Do you think you or someone you know may qualify for Parole in Place (PIP)? Talk to an experienced attorney to discuss your situation and help you file your case without all of the risks of filing alone. Contact my office today at (210) 320-5633 to set up a free, initial consultation and get a professional assessment of your case.