On June 17, 2024, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced actions to promote family unity in the immigration process, consistent with the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to keeping families together. According to DHS, this announcement utilizes existing authorities to promote family unity, but only Congress can fix our broken immigration system.

Under current law, noncitizens married to a U.S. citizen may apply for lawful permanent residence through their marriage to a U.S. citizen. However, not all are able to apply for lawful permanent residence without having to leave the United States; many must first depart the United States and wait to be processed abroad, resulting in a prolonged, potentially indefinite, period of separation from their U.S. citizen family members and causing tremendous hardship to all concerned. Consequently, these families live in fear and face deep uncertainty about their future.

To address this challenge, DHS plans to establish a new process to consider, on a case-by-case basis, requests by certain noncitizen spouses of U.S. citizens who have lived in the United States for 10 years or more, do not pose a threat to public safety or national security, are otherwise eligible to apply for adjustment of status, and merit a favorable exercise of discretion to apply for parole in place.  If eligible, these noncitizens will be able to apply for lawful permanent residence without having to leave the United States. DHS estimates that approximately 500,000 noncitizen spouses of U.S. citizens could be eligible to access this process; on average, these noncitizens have resided in the United States for 23 years. Additionally, approximately 50,000 children of these spouses also will be eligible for this process.

Eligibility and Process

To be considered for parole in place under this process, an individual must:

  • Be present in the United States without admission or parole;
  • Have been continuously present in the United States for at least 10 years as of June 17, 2024; and
  • Have a legally valid marriage to a U.S. citizen as of June 17, 2024.

In addition, individuals must have no disqualifying criminal history or otherwise constitute a threat to national security or public safety and should otherwise merit a favorable exercise of discretion.

Noncitizen children of eligible spouses may also be considered for parole under this process if they are physically present in the United States without admission or parole and have a qualifying stepchild relationship to a U.S. citizen as of June 17, 2024.

The application process will involve filing a form with USCIS along with supporting documentation to show they meet the requirements and pay a fee.  According to the announcement, further information regarding eligibility and the application process will be published in the near term. USCIS will reject any filings or individual requests received before the date when the application period begins later this summer.

USCIS will determine on a case-by-case basis whether a grant of parole is warranted and whether the applicant merits a favorable exercise of discretion. All requests will take into consideration the potential requestor’s previous immigration history, criminal history, the results of background checks and national security and public safety vetting, and any other relevant information available to or requested by USCIS.

If you, a family member, or someone you know could be eligible for parole in place under this new program, please contact Alka Bahal.  Be advised that until more information is released by DHS, it is not possible to actually prepare and submit any applications, however, we will continue to monitor for new information and proceed with applications as soon as possible.

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Alka Bahal, Esq. is a Partner and the Chair of the Corporate Immigration Services Practice at Santomassimo Davis, LLP (d/b/a OGC Solutions) providing bespoke corporate immigration services to clients of all sizes across the U.S. and worldwide, complimented perfectly by the Firm’s Outside General Counsel Solutions™ services, which is designed to provide affordable, high-quality services to enable clients to work toward their business goals by offer legal guidance when and, as, needed.  OGC Solutions is built for finding business solutions to business issues which minimize risk and maximize value.  Attorney Bahal represents clients, including business and individuals, throughout the U.S. and at U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide.

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