USCIS Issues Policy Memo on Parole of Non-Citizen Family Members of Military Service Men and Women


Parole in place (PIP) is an immigration procedure that allows qualifying family members who entered the U.S. without inspection and admission to apply for green cards (adjustment of status) while in the U.S., instead of being required to leave the U.S. to process a family-based green card.

Generally, in order to apply for an adjustment of status while in the U.S., the applicant must have been inspected and admitted. In some situations, U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) will deem a foreign national to be “paroled,” which means that the individual is allowed admission into the U.S. without having been deemed “admitted.”

Until a new USCIS memo on PIP status was issued on November 15, 2013, determinations of PIP requests varied around the country with some USCIS offices not acknowledging PIP at all and other offices allowing PIP requests with differing procedures, standards, and outcomes. The new recent memo issued by the USCIS seeks to eliminate the uncertainty and confusion regarding PIP by providing universal policies regarding PIP requests. Although policy memos do not have the same binding significance of law, the memo provides some helpful guidance regarding PIP requests.

In the memo, USCIS confirms that PIP can apply to spouses, minor children, and parents of military service members from all branches of the military and Selective Reserve of the Ready Reserves. PIP also applies to spouses, minor children, and parents of former members of the U.S. Armed Forces or Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve, but the method for assessing PIP requests for family members of former military service members remains unclear.

Although the memo states that PIP is discretionary and should be applied sparingly, it also states that, with respect to spouses, parents, and children of active duty or veteran service family members, “[a]bsent a criminal conviction or other serious adverse factors, parole in place would generally be an appropriate exercise of discretion for such an individual.”

As the memo confirms, PIP does not remove prior unlawful status, but it does remove any prior grounds of inadmissibility.

In order to qualify for PIP status, the military member must have filed a visa petition and the undocumented family member must apply for PIP status from a local USCIS office. If PIP is granted, the applicant can then file for an adjustment of status.

The process of bringing or keeping family members in the United States via PIP or any other mechanism is not easy or automatic.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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