Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has the authority to grant “parole” to allow noncitizens to enter or remain on the US for specific reasons, for a limited period of time. Parole is neither a status nor an admission, which makes a huge difference in terms of options available under immigration law.
How is the decision made?
In deciding whether to favorably exercise discretion, the immigration officer considers:
- The reason for the parole request;
- Any evidence of any criminal history or previous immigration violations;
- Any evidence of any previous participation in fraud;
- Whether the noncitizen’s presence would benefit a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident or community in the United States;
- Evidence of the noncitizen’s character; or
- Whether there are other means available to the noncitizen to enter the United States for the stated parole purpose, such as a visa.
What are the different types of Parole?
Humanitarian parole may be granted to those:
- Receiving critical medical treatment in the United States;
- Becoming an organ donor to an individual in the United States;
- Visiting or caring for a sick relative in the United States;
- Attending a funeral or settling the affairs of a deceased relative in the United States; or
- Coming to the United States for protection from targeted or individualized harm.
The Significant Public Benefit parole is used to allow noncitizens to appear for and participate in a civil or criminal legal proceeding in the United States, such as allowing a key witness with no legal means of entering the United States to be paroled into the country long enough to testify in a criminal prosecution for drug trafficking.
Advance parole allows those already present in the US to leave and return but is not a guarantee that a person will be permitted to re-enter the United States when inspected at a port of entry upon their return. It is commonly used when someone:
- Filed an application for adjustment of status, but has not received a decision from USCIS;
- Has a pending application for asylum or withholding of removal status and intends to depart temporarily to apply for a U.S. immigrant visa in Canada;
- Has an emergent personal or bona fide reason to travel temporarily abroad; or
- Is a TPS recipient who seeks advance permission to travel abroad.
Special Parole Programs
As of January 2018, the following special parole programs are in place:
Cuban and Haitian Family Reunification Parole Programs allow certain eligible U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who have filed a family-based immigrant petition for their family members in Cuba or Haiti, respectively, to seek parole for those family members while waiting for a visa to become available. If parole is approved, the recipients may come to the United States where they are eligible to apply for work authorization while they wait for their immigrant visa to become available. Likewise, Filipino World War II Veterans Parole Program allows the same for certain Filipino World War II veterans and their spouses.
Certain undocumented family members of military members can seek Military Parole in Place allowing them to lawfully remain in the United States for one-year increments, by applying to USCIS. To be eligible, the applicant must be the spouse, widow(er), parent, son, or daughter of specific members of the U.S. armed forces. This parole is being eliminated.
The International Entrepreneur Parole allows DHS to use its parole authority to grant a period of authorized stay, on a case-by-case basis, to foreign entrepreneurs for a start-up business, who demonstrate that their stay in the United States would provide a significant public benefit through their business venture. This program has not been fully implemented and DHS has proposed termination.
Terminated Parole Programs
The Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program, the “wet foot/dry foot” policy, as well as the Central American Refugee Program (CAM) Parole program have been terminated.
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