Parole in Place: Immigration Benefits for Military Families


The United States strives to provide special benefits to individuals serving their country through the military.

One of these special benefits is the potential for military and veterans’ family members to be granted parole in place. This unique benefit strives to provide family unity for military personnel and their families and ensure that families will not be separated due to voluntary service for the United States.

What is Parole in Place?

Parole in place is a an immigration program that allows foreign nationals to stay in the United States for a set period of time, even if they came into the United States without authorization.

This benefit is available to undocumented family members of military personnel in the United States, regardless of whether they are active duty or retired. Generally, when a foreign national enters the United States without legal authorization they are ineligible for adjustment of their status.

However, the special benefit parole in place provides is that the family member is on “parole,” and is eligible for adjustment of their status. This means these family members are eligible to apply for permanent residence, or “green card.”

Parole in place is a benefit that is currently available to those eligible to apply, as defined in the National Defense Authorization Act for the Fiscal Year 2020. Applications will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

This particular benefit is generally granted to those who can prove an urgent humanitarian scenario or provide a significant benefit to society. If granted, the parole in place benefits are active for one year, and can be renewed.

Who is Eligible for Parole in Place?

This special benefit is only available to specific individuals.

The first qualifying step is to determine if a member of the family is a military personnel. To qualify as military personnel, an individual must be one of the following:

  • Active-duty member of the United States armed forces (any branch)
  • Member in the Selected Reserve, OR
  • Individual (living or deceased) who previously served in either of the above groups and was not dishonorably discharged

If the individual fits into one of the above categories, then certain members of their family may be eligible to apply for and receive parole in place status.

An individual can apply for parole in place status if they have the following relationship with the military personnel:

  • Spouse
  • Widow(er)
  • Parent
  • Son or daughter

Benefits of Parole in Place

Qualifying for parole in place provides unique benefits to military personnel’s family members of that have entered the United States without authorization from an immigration officer.

These benefits include:

Protection from deportation: Any relocation actions are deferred or deemed unnecessary because qualifying for parole in place is an adjustment in status.

Employment: Qualification for parole in place provides the beneficiary with an I-94 record, allowing them to apply for a work permit in the United States.

Adjustment of Status: Generally, to apply for a green card individuals must have entered into the United States legally; if an individual entered unlawfully they are unlikely to be granted permanent residence. However, being granted parole in place will adjust an individual’s status under INA §245(a), essentially wiping away their illegal entry and removing that bar on their application for a green card.

Do not accrue unlawful presence: The time allotted during parole in place does not count towards the overall calculation for unlawful presence in the United States.

Entering into the United States armed forces does not guarantee that your spouse, parents, or children will be granted U.S. citizenship. It allows for consideration for special benefits, including parole in place and deferred action, but is not an automatic guarantee for citizenship.

A confident attorney with demonstrated success in immigration law can help to devise an ideal plan for each situation and aim to increase the likelihood for application approvals.

How to Apply for Parole in Place

An individual seeking to receive parole in place must apply with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office that has jurisdiction over the military personnel’s permanent place of residence (or other location if the military member is deployed or living on a base elsewhere).

Fill out the Form I-131 (you must hand write “Military PIP” in Part 2 instead of checking a box) while
providing evidence of familial relation to military personnel. This evidence may include:

  • Marriage Certificate
  • Birth Certificate Proof of Enrollment in Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS)

You must also provide evidence of participation in U.S. military, such as:

  • Photocopy of service member’s ID card (front and back)
  • DD Form 214
  • Provide two identical, full-color, passport-style photos
  • Provide evidence of any additional pertinent information to be considered with your application

Each step in the application process is required and of critical importance. An experienced immigration law attorney can help to navigate this burdensome process. Parole in place applications are considered on a case-by-case basis and as such an attorney can assist in drafting accurate and persuasive materials.

Having professional assistance can make all the difference in the odds of an application being approved or denied. If you need assistance with a parole in place application, please contact us today at (480) 626-2388.

This benefit does not apply to individuals who entered the United States with a valid visa that is now expired. If this is the case, the individual should apply for deferred action (see below).

What to do if Parole in Place Application is Denied

If your parole in place application is denied, there are a couple options. Applicants have the ability to appeal. However, this is not always a recommended course of action, as once it is denied a change in status is not likely to occur through this process.

But, if it was denied for insufficient or inaccurate information, then it is critical that you enlist the assistance of a trained professional to re-do the application. An attorney that has experience with this area of law can help to determine the best plan.

One recommended course of action is to instead apply for deferred action.

Deferred Action When Parole in Place Does Not Apply

Deferred action is a USCIS decision to postpone (defer) removing a foreign national from the United States that has entered unlawfully for a certain amount of time. If an individual has been denied parole, they are still able to apply for deferred action and remain in the United States.

If deferred action is granted, the individual is considered to be lawfully present in the U.S. and is permitted to apply for a work permit. These benefits are similar to those provided by parole, and are thus a valuable alternative plan.

An individual can qualify for deferred action if they fall into the same familial relations to a military personnel as for parole: spouse, widow(er), parent, or son/daughter.

To determine which action may be best for you or your loved one, USCIS provides a table to compare qualifications and options. A skilled immigration attorney can also walk you through your options and help decide which is the best in your given situation. There is a lot on the line when it comes to immigration, having a top immigration attorney on your side will make all the difference.

Call our Immigration team at (480) 626-2388 to discuss your case today.

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