Temporary Relief Available to Foreign National Relatives of Military Members

salute-1093260-m.jpgIn June of 2012, the Obama administration issued a directive in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security, putting into place a temporary reprieve from deportation for certain foreign national minors who were in the U.S. without legal immigration status. Known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA or DREAMers, this policy has granted relief to thousands of eligible foreign nationals who are now able to temporarily remain in the U.S. without fear of deportation.

Recently, in the face of mounting pressure from immigrant rights groups who are still waiting on comprehensive immigration reform, the Obama administration issued a new directive to provide relief for a specific group of undocumented foreign nationals. This directive is aimed at providing relief for undocumented foreign nationals who are closely related to members of the U.S. military.

This new directive is called parole in place (PIP). Under PIP, immediate relatives of U.S. military members (parents, spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21) may apply for permanent resident status even if they are currently in the U.S. without valid status.

The U.S. Department of Defense has widely praised the initiative, citing the fact that the country has relied on foreign nationals to help fight its wars in the past. Most recently, on July 3, 2002, former President George W. Bush issued his own order, Executive Order 13269, which established an accelerated citizenship process for foreign nationals serving in the armed forces. Between 2002 and 2013, almost 100,000 foreign national soldiers became U.S. citizens.

According to Department of Defense spokesman Lieutenant Commander Nate Christensen, approximately 35,000 non-U.S. citizens are serving in the military with an additional 5,000 enlisting every year.

In order to receive PIP benefits, the foreign national must submit a Form I-131 application to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office that has jurisdiction over the applicant's domicile. The application must include proof of the familial relationship between the applicant and the military member (marriage certificate if the application is for a spouse or birth certificate if the application is for a parent or child). Additionally, the applicant must include proof that the qualifying family member is on active duty in one of the U.S. military branches, is a member in the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve, or was previously a member of one of the military branches or the Selected Reserve. This proof is typically a copy of the family member's military ID card. The applicant must include two color passport photos and any additional evidence that proves the application warrants favorable consideration by USCIS. Remember, PIP is discretionary so USCIS could always deny the application. USCIS will likely deny an application if the foreign national has a substantial criminal record.

Foreign nationals seeking PIP are strongly advised to work with a skilled immigration attorney who can help them prepare all of the necessary documents for this application. Since individuals asking for PIP are in the country without legal status, a denial of the application could result in deportation proceedings so it is best to get the application right the first time. Contact our office today at 650-293-0270 to speak to a member of our legal team about your case.

Additional Blog Posts

New Obama Directive to Aid Parents in Deportation Proceedings, Silicon Valley Immigration Lawyer Blog, August 30, 2013
Applying for an Immigration DREAM is actually a Complex Process, Silicon Valley Immigration Lawyer Blog, August 16, 2012

Family-Based Green Cards / by Michelle Gee