Parole in Place for Military Families
Parole in place (PIP) allows certain undocumented family members of U.S. military personnel (active or veterans) to obtain a green card. Specifically, it enables those foreign national family members who are in the U.S. unlawfully to adjust status to lawful permanent resident without leaving the United States. Parole in place is a significant benefit that’s generally not available to family members of civilians.
Staff Sgt. Alex Jimenez’s Legacy
In May 2007, Specialist Alex Jimenez was abducted by insurgents while serving in the U.S. army in Iraq. The attack resulted in the deaths of four service members and abduction of two others. Tragically, all three captured soldiers would later lose their lives. During the period that Jimenez was missing in action, his wife was put into removal proceedings in the United States.
The Problem Addressed by Parole in Place
Under current immigration law, people who entered the United States without inspection (unlawfully) generally cannot apply for permanent residence (green card) from inside the U.S., a process known as adjustment of status. In these cases, the undocumented family member cannot obtain a green card unless he or she returns to the home country for consular processing. However, in most cases, that person will trigger a three- to ten-year bar as a penalty for the previous unlawful presence. This policy has been criticized because it forces the family to split up and generally makes immigration extraordinarily difficult after an unlawful presence. For members of the U.S. armed forces, these scenarios can create stress and anxiety that adversely affects military preparedness.
Parole in Place Preserves Family Unity
Parole in place attempts to avoid the separation of military families by allowing certain family members to adjust status while in the United States. Foreign national spouses, parents, and unmarried minor children (under age 21) of U.S. citizen members of the U.S. military (current or past) who are in the U.S. without lawful status may be eligible. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may approved these individuals for parole in place on a discretionary basis.
Specifically, parole in place removes two grounds for inadmissibility. First, a foreign national must be physically present in the United States through a lawful entry (e.g. inspected by an immigration official at a port of entry or paroled). Additionally, a foreign national must not arrive in the United States at any time or place other than as designated by the Secretary of Homeland Security. Parole in place retroactively paroles the individual and effectively resolves these issues. USCIS issued a 9-page memo in November 2013 that details the parole in place policy. Learn how the parole in place policy saved Sergeant Jimenez’s wife from deportation.
Eligibility for Parole in Place
Only immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen member of the U.S. military are eligible. Parole in place may be available to a foreign national who:
- Is present in the United States without inspection, and
- Is the spouse, unmarried child (under age 21) or parent of:
- an Active Duty member of the U.S. Armed Forces,
- someone in the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve, or
- someone who previously served in the U.S. Armed Forces or the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve.
A foreign national who entered the United States with a valid visa (that is now expired) is not eligible for parole in place. Generally, immediate relatives who entered on a valid visa may adjust status after a visa overstay.
How to Apply for Parole in Place
The foreign national must obtain parole in place before beginning the process of adjusting status. If he or she does not first get the parole in place granted, the application to adjust status will almost certainly be denied. First, prepare Form I-131, Application for Travel Document. The application will also be required to include the following items with Form I-131:
- Evidence of the family relationship to the U.S. citizen military service member (such as a copy of a birth or marriage certificate)
- Evidence that the U.S. citizen family member is either an Active Duty member of the U.S. Armed Forces, in the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve, or previously served in the U.S. Armed Forces or the Selected Reserve or the Ready Reserve, such as a photocopy of the military identification card (DD Form 1173; make copies of both the front and back)
- Two identical, color, passport-style photographs of the non-citizen applicant
- Evidence of any additional favorable discretionary factors that you wish to have USCIS consider, such as letters from community leaders or teachers showing your involvement in volunteer activities, personal education, or your children’s education
Upon approval, USCIS will grant temporary authorization to stay in the United States. More importantly, the foreign national will receive an I-94 Arrival/Departure record as evidence of parole status. The I-94 is critical evidence that will be used as a part of the adjustment of status application.
Applying for a Green Card
With a grant of parole in place (and an I-94 in hand), the foreign national can generally proceed with the adjustment of status application. A family-based application for permanent residence will generally include the following forms:
- Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
- Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative
- Form I-130A, Supplemental Information for Spouse Beneficiary (if beneficiary is a spouse)
- Form I-864, Affidavit of Support
- Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record
- Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization (optional)
- Form I-131, Application for Travel Document (optional)
An adjustment of status application package will also include several supporting documents. The list of items is highly dependent on the type of relationship and specific answers on the forms. Please refer to the USCIS website for each form or your CitizenPath filing instructions.