Implementation of a Family Reunification Parole Process
Contributor: Van T. Doan
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on July 7, 2023 that it is implementing new processes for family reunification parole (FRP) for several countries in Central and South America. Family reunification parole will be available to certain individuals who have family members in the United States who are citizens or lawful permanent residents (green card holders). Family members outside the U.S. with citizen or permanent resident family members in the country must have received approval to join their family in the U.S. in order to be considered for parole.
What is family reunification parole?
Family reunification parole is a program that allows family members of U.S. citizens or green card holders to be reunited with their U.S. family members in this country on a temporary basis while they wait for an immigrant visa to become available. Otherwise, they would need to wait outside the U.S., potentially for years.
Why have these FRP processes been put in place?
The Department of Homeland Security has identified several reasons that FRP offers a significant public benefit. First, it promotes family unity, improving the social and economic stability of the reunited families, as well as their overall well-being. Allowing families to be reunited earlier through the parole process spares family members outside of the U.S. from having to remain in potentially dangerous or unstable environments in their home country.
The new parole processes also further important foreign policy objectives. By creating lawful pathways for migration, irregular migration is reduced, U.S. immigration resources are less strained, and relationships with foreign governments are strengthened.
What countries do the new family unification parole processes apply to?
The new family reunification parole processes will be implemented for qualifying beneficiaries who are nationals of Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
What family members are eligible for family reunification parole ?
Certain children and siblings of U.S. citizens may be considered for FRP under the newly-implemented processes, as well as certain spouses and children of lawful permanent residents. To qualify for FRP, beneficiaries must be outside of the United States, meet all requirements for the program (including screening, vetting, and medical requirements), and must not have already been granted an immigrant visa.
Parole is granted on a discretionary, case-by-case basis upon demonstration of urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit. It must also be demonstrated that the beneficiary warrants a favorable exercise of discretion.
How is Family Reunification Parole Granted?
The process begins with the U.S. Department of State issuing an invitation to a U.S. citizen or green card holder who has had a Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) approved for a family member from Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras. A petitioner may not apply for parole unless and until invited to do so by the Department of State’s National Visa Center. If you think you might be eligible to apply for parole for a family member, you should make certain that the State Department has your correct address.
An invited petitioner can then initiate the FRP process by filing a request to be considered for advance travel authorization and parole on behalf of the beneficiary and their eligible family members using Form I-131, Form I-134, and supporting documentation and required fees. If the beneficiary meets the requirements for the program and it is shown that they warrant a favorable exercise of discretion, they will be paroled into the United States.
Beneficiaries will be considered for parole for up to three years and are allowed to request employment authorization while they wait for an immigrant visa to become available. In many cases, a visa becomes available within 18-30 months. When a visa becomes available, the beneficiary of FRP can petition to become a lawful permanent resident of the United States.
What does it mean to “warrant a favorable exercise of discretion?”
Immigration law involves many strict rules and regulations, but in many cases there is room for an official to exercise their judgment, or discretion, about whether a person should be paroled into the United States. For instance, if a potential beneficiary of FRP is seriously ill or faces persecution in their home country, immigration officials might determine that their case warrants a favorable exercise of discretion. Individuals whose talents or skills are likely to benefit the community might also warrant a favorable exercise of discretion.
In general, if there is a humanitarian reason for granting parole, or the intended beneficiary’s presence in the U.S. would offer a significant public benefit, a favorable exercise of discretion is likely warranted.
If you have questions about the new family reunification parole processes, or would like help applying for FRP for qualifying family members, contact our law office to schedule a consultation.
Categories: Immigration Law