Most persons who entered the United States illegally cannot obtain their green cards without departing the United States; they are required to attend an immigrant visa interview in their home countries. This process is difficult for all immigrants, as they have to travel internationally, oftentimes to dangerous places, to obtain their green cards. This burden becomes all the greater for military families.
The United States government acknowledged this increased burden in its latest policy memorandum, noting: “military preparedness can potentially be adversely affected if active members of the US Armed Forces and individuals serving in the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve, who can quickly be called into active duty, worry about the immigration status of their spouses, parents, and children.”
Here are the takeaway points from this policy initiative:
What does it do?
Certain family members of US military members can legalize, (i.e. obtain their green cards), without ever having to depart the United States. Their illegal entry and illegal time in the United States is essentially forgiven via a legal mechanism called a “parole in place.” Once the parole in place is granted, the family member can adjust their status, and obtain a green card, within the United States.
The parents, spouses and children of: (1) active members of the US Armed forces, (2) individuals serving in the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve, and (3) US military veterans. Thus, even the family members of persons no longer on active duty would qualify.
How often will it be granted?
According to the memorandum, fairly often. USCIS writes: “the fact that the individual is a spouse, child, or parent of an Active Duty member of the US Armed Forces, an individual in the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve or an individual who previously served in the US Armed Forces or the Selective Reserve of the Ready Reserve… ordinarily weighs heavily in favor of parole in place.” What does this mean? It means that, so long as the initial requirements are met, the military family member should receive the parole in place. The policy is aimed at including as many qualifying family members of US military members as possible.