Parole In Place For Military Families
Parole in place (PIP) is a unique program for certain undocumented family members of U.S. military personnel (active duty members or veterans). It allows those noncitizen family members who are in the U.S. unlawfully to apply for a green card without leaving the country. This is a significant immigration benefit that’s not available to family members of civilians.
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 they return to their home country for consular processing.
However, in many cases, that person will trigger a three- to or a ten-year bar as a penalty for the previous unlawful presence. That policy has been criticized because it forces the family to split up, making immigration extraordinarily difficult after an illegal presence. For members of the U.S. armed forces, these scenarios can create stress and anxiety that adversely affects military preparedness.
But, PIP allows their noncitizen family members a path to a green card that isn’t available to others.
Who Is Eligible for a Military Parole in Place?
A military PIP is eligible only for individuals who can prove their eligibility. To be able to obtain Parole in Place, you have to be a spouse, parents, or an unmarried child under 21 of the following:
- An active duty member of the U.S. Armed Forces,
- Selected Reserves member,
- An individual previously served in the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve or the U.S. Armed Forces and was honorably discharged.
In the last case, if military service members are deceased, their family members will still be eligible for military PIP.
If you are eligible and Parole in Place is granted, you must move forward and apply to adjust your legal immigration status — that is, apply for Lawful Permanent Residence. You will be rejected if you apply directly for status adjustment without PIP.
Bear in mind that if an individual has a criminal conviction on their record, they will not be eligible. Negative immigration law history will also be taken into account. If there is anything negative in your personal history that can make immigration officials consider removing you from the U.S., make sure you hire an experienced immigration lawyer.
Although the PIP policy was instituted during the Obama Administration, it was heavily undermined by the Trump Administration’s executive orders. Although the PIP remained available, the denial rates had increased. However, in 2020, Congress ordered that applications be considered on a case-by-case basis. Also, disruption to the military family unity should be minimized, and other individual circumstances may be considered.
Applying for Military Parole in Place
Certain documents must be prepared and submitted to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to apply for military Parole in Place. These documents include the following:
- Form I-131 (Application for Travel Document)
- Evidence of the family relationship with the military members, such as a birth or marriage certificate)
- A photocopy of the military identification card
Other evidence may be submitted, such as commendations your military service member relative has received, awards, or even letters from community leaders showing your involvement in volunteer activities. After the USCIS has reviewed the application, they may schedule a short interview at the local USCIS office.
There is no fee for a military Parole in Place application. However, if approved, the applicant becomes eligible to obtain other documents with their fees.
Benefits of Parole in Place for Military Families
Parole in Place (PIP) offers crucial advantages to military families, providing significant relief and opening the door for undocumented family members to adjust their immigration status. Below, we outline the significant benefits that PIP provides.
Mitigates Family Separation
PIP addresses the critical issue of family separation. It allows eligible relatives of U.S. military personnel to remain in the U.S. while applying for a green card, thereby preserving family unity. Given the emotional toll that family separation can impose on our military members, this benefit is paramount.
Waives Unlawful Presence Bars
Under normal circumstances, an individual who has been in the U.S. unlawfully for more than 180 days but less than one year is barred from reentry for three years. If they were in the U.S. unlawfully for a year or more, they’re barred for ten years. Luckily, PIP waives these bars, enabling eligible relatives to apply for a green card without leaving the U.S. and facing these penalties.
Provides a Path to Permanent Resident Status
PIP is a stepping stone to permanent resident status (a green card). Once PIP is granted, the applicant can apply for adjustment of status to become a Lawful Permanent Resident, a significant benefit often unattainable for others in a similar situation.
Avoids the Risks of Consular Processing
Applying for a green card through consular processing means the applicant must return to their home country to attend an interview at the U.S. Consulate. This process can be risky as it may lead to discovering other grounds of inadmissibility, which can mean denying the green card application. However, with PIP, eligible family members can avoid this risk as they can apply from within the U.S. without leaving.
Contact an Experienced Immigration Lawyer for Military Parole in Place
If you’re a current or former member of the U.S. Armed Forces with undocumented family members, we encourage you to take advantage of PIP to obtain a green card for them. However, the process can be complex and requires expert guidance from an immigration lawyer.
At our law firm, we have a deep understanding of the legal and humanitarian issues that military families face. Our experienced lawyers will help you navigate the PIP process efficiently while ensuring your family remains united. Contact Andrew T. Thomas today to schedule a consultation.
Frequently Ask Questions
A grant of parole in place will only provide evidence that you have been paroled so that you adjust status without returning to your home country. It does not fix other immigration problems you may have. For example, if you ever ignored a deportation or removal order or have been arrested, PIP will not fix these issues. Consult an experienced immigration attorney.
No, parole in place can only be used for the U.S. citizen’s spouse, parents or unmarried minor children (under 21). PIP will not, in most cases, provide adjustment eligibility to non-citizens in the preference categories.
Parole in place is not guaranteed. It is a discretionary policy, and USCIS will review each individual’s situation on a case-by-case basis.
The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) suggests that applicants check off box 1d (“I am applying for an Advance Parole Document to allow me to return to the United States after temporary foreign travel”) under “Part 2, Application Type,” and write “Parole in Place” in red ink next to the description. Then, under Part 4, Information About Your Proposed Travel, Question 1a, Purpose of Trip, the applicant would write “Parole in Place (PIP)” again on this line. To answer Part 4, Question 1b, List the countries you intend to visit, the applicant should write “N/A.