Parole in Place (PIP) for Military Personnel

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Parole in place (PIP) is available to certain undocumented family members of U.S. military personnel (active or veterans) and is granted on a case by case basis for humanitarian reasons. Essentially, PIP permits a foreign national who came into the United States without authorization by an immigration officer to stay for a certain period of time. Parole is considered a lawful immigration status for purposes of specific immigration benefits, such as applying for a green card while inside the United States. Beneficiaries who are granted PIP are provided authorization to stay and work. Parole, however, does not excuse any periods of unlawful presence outside of the parole period.

Parole in place is a significant benefit that’s generally not available to family members of civilians. The USCIS recognizes and respects the sacrifices made by military family members and therefore, offers this unique option to give service members peace of mind.

Under current immigration law, people who entered the United States without inspection (unlawfully) generally cannot apply for permanent residence (green card) from inside the U.S., a process known as adjustment of status. In these cases, the undocumented family member cannot obtain a green card unless he or she returns to the home country for consular processing. However, in most cases, that person will trigger a 3- to 10-year bar as a penalty for the previous unlawful presence. This policy has been criticized because it forces the family to split up and generally makes immigration extraordinarily difficult after an unlawful presence. For members of the U.S. armed forces, these scenarios can create stress and anxiety that adversely affects military preparedness. The parole in place policy aims to prevent the separation of military families by allowing certain family members to remain in the United States.

Eligibility for Parole in Place

Foreign national spouses, parents, sons, and daughters (any age) of U.S. military service members (past or present) who are in the U.S. without a lawful entry may be eligible. The foreign national cannot have a criminal conviction or other serious adverse factors. Note: USCIS may approve these individuals for parole in place on a discretionary basis. This policy is not a guarantee and is purely on a case by case basis. Parole in place is granted in one-year increments.

A foreign national who entered the United States with a valid visa (that is now expired) is not eligible for parole in place. Generally, immediate relatives (spouses, parents, and unmarried children [under age 21] of U.S. citizens) who entered on a valid visa may adjust status after a visa overstay. These individuals, as well as other family members not categorized as immediate relatives, may also be available for deferred action.

Employment Protection from Deportation & Employment

The immediate parole-in-place benefits include protection from deportation and eligibility for a work permit. PIP authorizes the individual’s stay in the United States for a one-year period. The beneficiary is also given an I-94 arrival/departure record as evidence of parole. With the I-94 record, the individual may apply for an employment authorization document (work permit) using Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. Applicants are eligible for the work permit as parolees.

Adjustment of Status

Adjustment of status, the process of applying for a green card within the United States, requires a lawful entry. One of the primary benefits of parole in place is the I-94 arrival/departure record. The I-94 is evidence of a lawful entry for the purposes of adjusting status. Even though the individual initially entered the U.S. unlawfully, PIP allows the individual to be eligible to adjust status under INA §245(a). Because an immigrant visa is always available to the spouse, parents, and unmarried children (under age 21) of U.S. citizens, these individuals may generally adjust status immediately. Other types of relationships (such as the spouse and child of lawful permanent residents) may have to wait for an immigrant visa to become available.

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