“Parole in Place” for U.S. Armed Forces Family Members

Spouses, parents, and unmarried children of individuals who have been or are currently in the U.S. armed forces may be eligible for immigration relief called “parole in place.” Parole in place allows a person to reside and work lawfully in the United States without being a priority for removal. Further, many grantees of “parole in place” who are immediate relatives of U.S. citizens may now be eligible to adjust their immigration status to lawful permanent residence while remaining in the United States. Thus spouses, parents and children of U.S. citizen service members who are granted parole in place can adjust their status to permanent resident without having to leave the country.

What is “parole in place”?

The Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) can “parole” people (or allow their entry) into the United States for humanitarian reasons where they would not otherwise qualify to enter the U.S. with a visa. DHS can also offer “parole in place” to individuals who are already physically present in the United States but entered without inspection. Generally, parole in place is granted sparingly.

However, DHS now grants, in its discretion[1], “parole in place” applications for undocumented immediate family members of individuals currently or previously in the U.S. Armed forces.  DHS has determined that absent a criminal conviction or other serious adverse factors, parole in place is generally an appropriate exercise of discretion for such an individual.

Adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident

Because a person granted “parole in place” is legally admitted to the United States, they are no longer subject to grounds of inadmissibility related to entering without inspection, and in some situations are therefore eligible to adjust status in the U.S.

If a person is an immediate relative – the spouse, unmarried child, or parent of a U.S. citizen – he or she is eligible to file for adjustment of status under INA § 245(a) after being “inspected, admitted, or paroled” into the United States. Those who entered the country without inspection would satisfy that requirement if they are granted parole in place. Without the status of parole in place, many would have to depart the country and consular process, thus triggering the unlawful presence ground of inadmissibility. In this regard the program is a big benefit to spouses, parents and unmarried children of U.S. citizen service members who may otherwise be ineligible to adjust status in the U.S.

The 2014 Expansion

In 2014, USCIS expanded the parole in place program to also include non-citizen family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who are seeking to enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces. Under the expansion, deferred action is also available to family members of U.S. military service members and veterans who were inspected and admitted to the U.S. but are now out of status (usually because they overstayed their visas).

If you have questions about this program, please contact Wiley & Jobson at (415) 627-9161 or through our website.

[1]  The grant of parole in place is discretionary. Therefore, criminal conduct, prior immigration violations, or other adverse factors that are revealed through the application process could affect the decision.