Newark, NJ- After three years of negotiations with the Department of Defense, the Obama Administration has issued a new directive that will give reprieve for undocumented immigrants who are directly related to active-duty and veteran members of the American military.
Members of our military are already under tremendous pressure and when they have parents, spouses or children who are undocumented immigrants, they feel additional anxiety and stress. Often, military members worry that their family members will be detained or deported while they are on active duty or deployed overseas. This fear affects the morale and combat readiness of military members and places additional burdens on their families.
“In order to reduce the uncertainty our active-duty and retired military personnel face because of the immigration status of their family members, we have decided to clarify existing policies,” Peter Boogaard, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, explained to the New York Times.
The policy, which was introduced on November 15th, will allow direct relatives of military members, including members of the National Guard or the Reserves, to “parole in place.” The policy will now allow parents, spouses and children of service members to remain in the states without fear of removal while they wait for a decision on their visa or green card applications.
Prior to the new directive, undocumented immigrants related to members of the Armed Services, were required to leave the U.S., sometimes from 3 to 10 years, in order to obtain the family or marriage-related visas necessary to gain lawful entry. As a consequence of the policy, family members languished in undocumented status and military members were not forthright about the legal status of their parents, spouses or children.
Parole is typically granted to immigrants before they enter the country by a consulate or at a port of entry when their applications for visas require further inspection by an immigration agent. Parole is granted in special circumstances such as a humanitarian need or a person’s admissibility requires further inspection. Parole is not generally granted to immigrants who entered the country without authorization, which is a future ground for inadmissibility under the Immigration and Naturalization Act, but this new policy changes that for military members and their families.
The new policy leaves it up to the discretion of the USCIS to grant an immigrant parole which is typically used sparingly. However being closely related to a member of the U.S. military “ordinarily weighs heavily in favor of parole in place” and would be “appropriate exercise of discretion,” according to the policy memo.
Once a military family member has applied for parole, they should work towards gaining legal status by applying for a visa or a green card (legal permanent status). Individuals who are allowed to “parole in place” are required to renew their documents on a yearly basis.
Immigrants in the Newark area who need assistance with their visa or green card applications can contact my office. When you enlist my services for any of your immigration needs, whether it is a visa application or a deportation defense, you can be confident that I will work tirelessly to help you achieve your goals.