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Close family of US military to be given legal status: just apply

The Obama Administration has just made a staggering announcement on family immigration. All unauthorized-immigrant spouses, children and parents of active-duty or prior U.S. service members will now be given legal status immediately upon filing a free application, as long as they have no other major bar to immigration. Even more exciting, the new policy opens a path to citizenship.

You read that right. If you are:

  • An undocumented immigrant currently in the U.S.;
  • The parent, child or spouse of a current member, or someone who previously served in, the U.S. Armed Forces or Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve; and
  • Have no criminal convictions or other major bar to from the U.S. immigration;

You may now apply for a program called “parole in place” which allows you to live legally in the United States. The parole is granted for a year and renewed annually, and the application fee has been waived.

Best of all, once you have parole, every year you live here counts toward the time you are required to live legally in the U.S. before you can apply for an adjustment of your immigration status. After a few years, you can apply for a green card and ultimately become a U.S. citizen.

One interesting note is that, in its policy memo, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services uses terms such as “former members” and “previously served” instead of “veterans.” This may indicate that family members of service members who didn’t complete their service or who were discharged other than honorably may still qualify for parole in place.

Much as it did with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the Obama administration has used its executive authority to direct the USCIS to grant parole in place to the close family members of service members.

The USCIS already has authority to grant parole for humanitarian reasons, as we discussed recently in regards to Filipino nationals affected by Typhoon Haiyan. The Immigration and Naturalization Act gives the agency discretion to grant parole in appropriate situations. The administration has ordered all USCIS employees to do so in these cases, as part of nation’s commitment those who serve.

An immigration law attorney is not required to apply for this program, but those who are currently in the U.S. without authorization should always carefully explore the potential consequences of any immigration law actions. Attorney meetings are always completely confidential.

Sources: 

  • Winston-Salem Journal, "New immigration policy may keep Marine vet, family together," Bertrand M. Gutierrez, Nov. 27, 2013
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services policy memorandum, "Parole of Spouses, Children and Parents of Active Duty Members of the U.S. Armed Forces, the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve, and Former Members of the U.S. Armed Forces or Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve and the Effect of Parole on Inadmissibility under Immigration and Nationality Act §212(a)(6)(A)(i)," Nov. 15, 2013

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