Immigration Benefits for Family Members of U.S. Military Active Service and Veterans
“Parole in Place” (or PIP) allows certain qualified individuals to apply for lawful permanent residence without leaving the United States, despite their past illegal entry and stay. Noncitizen spouses, parents, and unmarried minor children of U.S. citizen members or veterans of the U.S. military, who are in the U.S. after an unlawful entry, may have a path to a U.S. green card through “adjustment of status”.
PIP allows you to adjust status in two ways. First, to adjust, you must have entered the U.S. legally. The law specifically states that you must have been “inspected and admitted or paroled” to qualify. Parole is a permission to be in the United States legally for a temporary period. If PIP is granted, the government is granting you a parole or “legal entry”, without you having to leave the country.
Second, you must be “admissible” to adjust status. PIP removes the ground of inadmissibility for being in the U.S. after entering the country illegally. With PIP approval, the government is saying that you were admitted or “entered” the country legally and, even though you may have been undocumented for many years, that period of unlawful presence is forgiven.
If you believe you might be inadmissible for any other reason, like a criminal conviction, you should consult with an experienced immigration attorney before filing any application.
PIP eligibility isn’t automatic and is granted only on a “discretionary” basis, which means an immigration officer doesn’t have to grant it if they are not convinced that the applicant deserves approval. You must prepare and submit the following documents to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for a PIP application:
- Form I-131, Application for Travel Document
- Evidence of relationship to a U.S. citizen military serviceperson or veteran
- Evidence that the U.S. citizen family member is either an Active Duty member or veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces or in the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve.
- Evidence of any additional favorable factors that you would like an officer to take into account, such as evidence of good moral character, family hardship, personal education, or your children’s education.
Once USCIS has reviewed your application, they will either mail you an approval along with your entry permit, or, if they require more information, they may mail you a notice for an interview. Once you have approval of your PIP, you can proceed with filing a visa petition and adjustment of status application with a copy of your parole in place approval notice from USCIS.
The future of the PIP policy is uncertain due to the recent executive orders issued by the new administration. The orders indicate a tightening of the parole power of immigration officers in all situations, including PIP. However, to date, USCIS is still processing these cases.
FIND OUT WHERE YOU STAND! You may already qualify for a benefit that you are not aware of yet. If you have never talked to an immigration attorney about your situation before, now is the best time to do so – before the new administration starts making changes that may affect you and your family. Contact an experienced, licensed attorney to find out what YOU can do to help your situation. If you would like our assistance, contact our office today at 210-932-3600 to set up a consultation.