Last week on Veterans Day, I wrote about binational military families and how the U.S. Department of Homeland Security does its best to work with immigrant families. One program I highlighted was Parole in Place. To understand how amazing it is, you need a little background on immigration law:

Typically, in order to apply for a green card (lawful permanent residence) in the United States, you have to show that you entered the United States with the inspection. That is, you came across the border and were inspected by an officer. If you did, and you married a U.S. citizen – even years after your initial status expired – you were eligible to apply for your green card. But, if you entered the United States without inspection, you could not apply for your green card here. You would have to return to your home country, apply for waivers, and undergo a tremendous amount of stress and hardship in order to be reunited. How you enter the United States makes a HUGE difference.

Parole in Place allows USCIS, in its discretion, to take someone who entered the United States without inspection and grant them a lawful admission. It makes it as though that entry to the country was done lawfully. By being granted Parole in Place, the foreign national has a lawful admission and therefore becomes eligible to apply to adjust status in the United States.

On Friday, November 15, USCIS issued this policy guidance (PDF, opens in new window) related to Parole in Place. The guidance explains who is eligible for Parole in Place and how to apply for it. Up until this memo, every USCIS office had a slightly different procedure and there was no consistency. Some offices only allowed spouses of active duty military members to apply, other offices allowed parents of active duty military to apply. Now, USCIS has told us – and their offices – what the rules are.

There are two issues in the policy memo that stand out to me.

First, the Parole in Place program is not only for spouses. Children and parents of military members can now apply for Parole in Place. If the petitioner is a U.S. citizen, in many cases the foreign national will be considered an immediate relative and can apply for a green card quickly. I can see the “entry without inspection” parents of many currently serving military members coming out of the shadows.

The other benefit listed also makes me extremely happy. Parole in Place is no longer reserved for active military members. Now, veterans can ask that their spouses, parents, and children be granted Parole in Place. Our veterans sacrificed so much for this country – opening the door so that their loved ones can apply for status in the United States is the least we can do.

Parole in Place does not cure everything. It does not grant lawful permanent status. It simply makes it possible for the immediate family of our current and former military members to start the process. USCIS is doing the right thing by recognizing that families should stay together – especially our military families.

– Tracie