USCIS New Policy Memo on Parole of Spouses, Children and Parents of Active and Former Members of U.S. Military

On November 15, 2013, a new policy was issued to allow undocumented spouses, children, and parents of active duty and former members of the U.S. armed forces, the selected reserve of the ready reserve, to enter or continue staying in the U.S. after approval of parole request.

The purpose of the new policy is to relief the stress and anxiety of active members of the U.S. armed forces and individuals serving in the selected reserve of the ready reserve and veterans because of the immigration status of their family members in the U.S.

The first issue addressed in the Policy Memorandum (PM) is whether parole in place should be granted to certain family members of active duty members of the U.S. military troops and veterans. The answer is yes. However, counsel needs to point out here that although immediate relatives of active military troops and veterans are allowed to make parole request, the decision whether to grant parole is discretionary. The fact that the individual is a spouse, child or parent of an Active Duty member of the U.S. Armed Forces, an individual in the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve or an individual who previously served in the U.S. Armed Forces or the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve, weighs heavily in favor of parole in place. Criminal records or other serious adverse factors will also be part of the discretion for such an individual.

The other issue addressed in the PM is what the effects of parole are. The new policy will allow those undocumented family members to qualify for green cards through adjustment of status. Normally, to do adjustment of status, the person needs to be legally admitted in the first place. The new policy overcomes this requirement for those immediate family members of the U.S. military troops and veterans who entered without inspection and do not possess legal status. The alien must still satisfy all other requirements of a change of status though.

Once parole is granted, the undocumented alien is eligible to apply for an employment authorization document or EAD, which would allow them to work and pay taxes and to travel abroad for legitimate business or personal reasons, and then after reentering the U.S. to be essentially cleansed of such prior immigration violations as entry without inspection or failure to depart when required.

To request parole, the alien must submit to the director of the USCIS office with jurisdiction over the alien’s place of residence:
1. Completed Form I-131, Application for Travel Document (The USCIS Director has determined that in this situation the Form I-131 may be filed without fee, per 8 CFR 103.7(d));
2. Evidence of the family relationship;
3. Evidence that the alien’s family member is an Active Duty member of the U.S. Armed Forces, individual in the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve or an individual who previously served in the U.S. Armed Forces or the Selected Reserve or the Ready Reserve such as a photocopy of both the front and back of the service member’s military identification card (DD Form 1173);
4. Two identical, color, passport style photographs; and
5. Evidence of any additional favorable discretionary factors that the requestor wishes considered.

Now one thing to consider from this PM is whether there will be an increase in U.S. Selected Reserve or Ready Reserve enrollment to become eligible for helping a family member apply for parole in place. If there are no other adverse factors against allowing the parole in place to occur, it would not surprise anyone to see an increase in Reservists in the Armed Forces. It is not clear whether USCIS will take the status of the individual as Active Duty or Reservist into consideration for granting advanced parole in greater favor for one member but not the other, but regardless of the policy implementation it will help ease that stress for active and former military members.

If USCIS decides to grant parole, the parole should be authorized in one-year increments, with re-parole as appropriate. Let us know if you have questions or need assistance.