Military Service Can Simplify Green Card Process for Family Members



The Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy toward immigration has affected a lot of mixed immigration status families in the United States. One category of mixed status families who are still protected are the undocumented relatives of U.S. military servicemen and military veterans. In a recent case, Alejandra Juarez, the wife of Temo Juarez- an Iraqi war veteran, and mother of two U.S. citizen children, was ordered removed after being questioned during a routine traffic stop, despite her marriage to her husband who was a naturalized U.S. citizen who put his life on the line during the Iraqi war. The Juarez’s were eligible to take advantage of what is known as the “Parole in Place” program.

In 2013, the Obama administration implemented the Parole in Place program, allowing certain undocumented people with relatives who were in the military or are veterans to adjust their status to permanent resident while remaining inside the United States. Most people who entered the United States without inspection or permission would need to leave the U.S. for an interview at a consulate in their home country in order to become permanent residents; this is known as “consular processing”. 

Many people do not start an immigration process to become permanent residents because they are afraid of the uncertainty that comes with consular processing. Upon leaving the U.S. for their interview, many people who entered the U.S. become inadmissible for re-entry.  Many people therefore need an additional waiver (for re-entry) with their immigration petition to pardon certain inadmissibility grounds, such as unlawful presence, crimes, etc.  Most waivers are limited to certain undocumented people and the burden of proof is very high, which adds more stress to already an uncertain and difficult situation.

The Parole in Place program therefore eliminates a huge obstacle for many family members of U.S. active military or veterans by allowing them to seek permanent residency inside the U.S. and without the need to leave for an interview in their home country.

In 2016, the Parole in Place expanded from just allowing unmarried minor children, spouses, and parents of military and vets to now also allowing adult children, as well as their spouses, to take advantage of the program.  The purpose of the policy is designed to reduce the “stress and anxiety” of military family members and veterans who are worried about the immigration status of their family members in the United States. A person who is given Parole in Place has the ability to get a work authorization card and is eligible for adjustment of status.

While the expansion is still in place, it can be removed with just the stroke of a pen through the President’s executive order authority. The program is not automatic and potential candidates must apply. If you think you qualify for Parole in Place, or have friends or family who you believe could benefit, call our office at (312) 419-9611 to talk to one of our immigration attorneys.