“Parole in Place” Offered to Undocumented Family of U.S. Citizens in Military, Easing Path to Green Card

A new procedure removes a previously insurmountable barrier to obtaining a green card without leaving the U.S.

It’s been a long time in coming, but U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has, on November 15, 2013, announced the formulation of a policy by which “parole in place” (PIP) can be applied to the undocumented immediate family members (spouses, parents, and unmarried minor children) of current and past U.S. citizen members of the U.S. Armed Forces and Reserve. This use of PIP will ease these would-be immigrants’ path toward U.S. lawful permanent residence (a green card).

Its underlying purpose is to reduce the stress and anxiety that the U.S. military members feel knowing that their family members are waiting in the U.S. in limbo, unable to obtain a green card and facing a constant threat of arrest and deportation.

It’s important to understand that this policy does not create a new type of green card. It applies only to noncitizens who were in the U.S. and already technically eligible for a green card based on their immediate family relationship to a U.S. citizen member of the U.S. military – but unable to actually claim their green cards, because they would have had to leave the U.S. to do so, and face the threat of being barred from return for three or ten years as a penalty for past unlawful presence.

PIP does not help family members of U.S. lawful permanent residents or others who fall into the category of “preference relatives” rather than “immediate relatives.”

Basically, the policy combines portions of existing law to allow these military family members to retroactively make their entry to the U.S. legal. That allows them, based on their family relationship to the U.S. citizen, to opt for an alternate procedural route in their application for a green card – which is, to adjust status in the U.S. and complete the application process without having to make any risky trips outside the country.

Details of how to take advantage of this new policy can be found in Nolo’s article, “Adjustment of Status Via "Parole in Place" for Immediate Family of Citizens in U.S. Military.”