Written by William Crotty, Esq., Associate Attorney.
Military Parole in Place (PIP) is available for certain family members of current and former United States armed forces personnel.
PIP has some unique features, specifically enabling a path to permanent residency, which is not typically available to beneficiaries of other “parole” programs.
Below is further information about PIP; the benefits, eligibility requirements, and application process for the program; as well as other immigration options for military members and their families.
Military Parole in Place: Background information and history
Military Parole in Place effectively began in 2007, when former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Michael Chertoff allowed the spouse of an active-duty military member who was facing deportation to remain in the country while their partner was missing in action.
The program was officially implemented in 2010 by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The policy was updated and clarified by USCIS via memorandums in November 2013 and November 2016.
The future of the PIP program was in doubt when Former President Donald Trump signed an executive order in 2017 limiting the circumstances in which parole was authorized. The order specifically stated that parole could only be exercised on a “case-by-case basis in accordance with the plain language of the statute, and in all circumstances only when an individual demonstrates urgent humanitarian reasons, or a significant public benefit (is) derived” from the individual remaining in the United States.
Then, in 2019, multiple media outlets reported Trump was potentially planning to limit or end Military Parole in Place in its entirety as part of a broader effort to alter the immigration landscape. However, the plan to end the program was widely criticized by immigration advocates as well as multiple members of the United States Senate.
In July 2019, 22 Senators penned a letter to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, calling for the protection of the PIP program.
“Through this program, servicemembers are able to fight for the United States overseas and not worry that their spouse, children, or parents will be deported while they are away,” the letter read. “Terminating PIP would not only cause personal hardship to our servicemen and women, but negatively impact them in combat. Military members deserve peace of mind while serving abroad.”
The letter continued: “Through PIP, the U.S. government recognizes the important sacrifices made by servicemembers, Veterans, enlistees and their families. Ending the program flies in the face of American values and signals that we do not value the contributions of military families.”
Trump’s reported proposal to end Military Parole in Place never came to fruition. Since his election in 2020, President Joe Biden has given no indication he plans to adjust the program in any way during his time in the White House.
Military Parole in Place is available for spouses, widows(ers), parents, and/or children (regardless of age) of current or past United States military servicemembers who are living in the country without a “lawful entry.”
The qualifying servicemember must be either:
- In active duty in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps or Coast Guard
- An individual in the selected reserve or the ready reserve
- Have previously served on active duty or in the selected reserve of the ready reserve and not been dishonorably discharged
PIP does not impact any inadmissibility grounds under INA Section 212. Additionally, applicants are highly unlikely to be successful if they have a criminal conviction or other serious adverse factor that could impact their immigration eligibility.
The family of military members who have entered the United States lawfully but overstayed their visa are not eligible for PIP. However, they can pursue Deferred Action (more information below) as a remedy.
Individuals considering applying for Military Parole in Place should consult with experienced immigration counsel to discuss their eligibility.
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) allows for parole in place to be granted on a case-by-case basis for “urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.”
Military family beneficiaries who are granted PIP are provided authorization to stay and work in the United States. Most importantly, PIP beneficiaries are “paroled” for the purposes of applying for a Green Card inside the United States under the INA. This is a significant benefit that is generally not available to family members of civilians or through other programs that offer parole into the United States.
Normally, individuals who enter the United States unlawfully cannot apply for permanent residence (Adjustment of Status) from inside the United States. PIP allows for beneficiaries to:
- Avoid the three-year (accrued more than 180 days but less than one year of unlawful presence during a single stay in the United States) and 10-year (one year or more of unlawful presence during a single stay in the United States) unlawful presence grounds of inadmissibility.
- Become authorized to stay in the United States.
- Become eligible for employment authorization.
- Become eligible to adjust status to permanent residence.
Military Parole in Place authorizes the beneficiary’s stay in the United States for a one-year period, with extensions available indefinitely in one-year increments. Individuals must submit a new PIP application each time they apply to extend their stay in the U.S.
The military family member beneficiary is also given an I-94 arrival/departure record as evidence of parole. With the I-94, the individual has proof of lawful entry to the United States and may apply for a work permit or adjustment of status.
Military Parole in Place: Application process
An application for PIP should contain the following documents:
- A cover letter
- The Form I-131, Application for Travel Document (no fee required)
- Evidence of family relationship to servicemember (birth certificate, marriage certificate, etc.)
- Evidence of qualifying family member’s military service
- Evidence of qualifying family member’s U.S. citizenship or permanent residence
- Proof of identity or nationality
- Two passport-style photos
- Evidence of any favorable discretionary factors (if applicable)
PIP beneficiaries can apply for a Green Card or work authorization through the normal process once their application is approved and they are issued an I-94.
PIP beneficiaries can adjust status immediately if their qualifying relative is a U.S. Citizen. They must wait for an immigrant visa to become available if their qualifying relative is a lawful permanent resident. However, they remain authorized to stay in the United States throughout the process and can continue to renew their work authorization.
Individuals should consult with experienced immigration counsel to discuss the complete process for a Military Parole in Place application.
Deferred Action and other immigration options for military members
Deferred Action for family members of military personnel is a “form of prosecutorial discretion to defer removal action (deportation) against an individual for a certain period of time.”
The eligibility for Deferred Action is similar to the guidelines for Military Parole in Place and is available, in certain circumstances to spouses, widows(ers), parents or children (regardless of age) of:
- Active-duty military personnel
- Members of the selected reserve of the ready reserve
- Individuals who have previously served on active duty or in the selected reserve of the ready reserve and were not dishonorably discharged
Deferred Action is available for family of military members who have entered the United States lawfully but overstayed their visa, making them ineligible for PIP, as they would be considered inadmissible.
Deferred Action is granted in two-year increments and allows the beneficiaries to apply for work authorization (provided they can prove economic need), but does not provide a pathway to legal permanent residence or citizenship.
The Immigrant Military Members and Veterans Initiative (IMMVI) is another form of parole available to noncitizen active duty or former armed forces personnel, as well as certain family members, “who are outside the United States so that they may seek to enter the United States to better avail themselves of U.S. legal counsel and systems and gain access to certain veterans’ benefits.”
Further, military service members who are not U.S. citizens may be eligible for naturalization “under special provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act,” as long as they have served for at least one year.
Please contact the attorneys at Garfinkel Immigration Law Firm to learn more about Deferred Action, the Immigrant Military Members and Veterans Initiative, and/or naturalization through military service.
Military Parole in Place is a unique and beneficial option for family members of armed forces personnel who are living in the country without a “lawful entry.”
Specifically, the program advantageously allows beneficiaries to be “paroled” for the purposes of applying for a Green Card inside the United States under the INA, which is generally not available to family members of civilians or through other programs that offer parole into the United States.
Individuals who may be eligible for PIP should consider consulting with experienced immigration counsel to see if they can take advantage of the program.