Category Archives: green card

Parole in Place Plan Will Allow Certain Undocumented Spouses and Children of U.S. Citizens to Get Green Cards Through I-485 Adjustment, Instead of Consular Processing

On June 18, the Biden Administration announced a “Parole in Place” plan to allow certain undocumented spouses and children of U.S. citizens to apply for permanent residence within the U.S., instead of needing to depart for Immigrant Visa processing. The Fact Sheet: President Biden Announces New Actions to Keep Families Together provides basic information on the program, which the Administration says will promote family unity.

The Administration estimates there are about 500,000 spouses and 50,000 children (or stepchildren) of U.S. citizens who will benefit from this program. Under current law or policy, they cannot adjust to permanent residence because they were not inspected and admitted lawfully into the United States. There are risks to departing the U.S. to apply for the Immigrant Visa abroad, even when it is based on an approved I-130 immigrant petition filed by their U.S. citizen spouse or parent.

Critics argue this amounts to “amnesty” for individuals who came to the U.S. without proper visas or travel documents. While the high number of migrant encounters and unlawful entries at the Southwest Land Border (between U.S. and Mexico) is alarming, family unity has been a bedrock of U.S. immigration.

If implemented, the proposed program strikes a delicate balance between creating lawless open borders and initiating mass deportation, which are both extreme and unworkable measures. Whether it will survive possible legal scrutiny or is really “political pandering” are reasonable but separate questions.

The exact application process – such as required forms, filing fee and documentary evidence – has yet to be decided. Until a proposed rule is published in the Federal Register and public comments are accepted and reviewed, it will not go into effect as a final rule. USCIS will reject any filings related to this process received before the official start date, which might begin in late summer 2024.

Who Will Benefit from the Parole in Place Program?

The Parole in Place program is intended to benefit certain green card applicants who:

  • are physically present in the U.S. without inspection and admission or parole;
  • are legally married to a U.S. citizen OR are legally the children or stepchildren of a U.S. citizen, as of June 17, 2024;
  • have been continuously present in the U.S. for 10 years or more, as of June 17, 2024;
  • 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.
[NOTE: For U.S. immigration purposes, a “child” is an unmarried person under the age of 21. If the person is a “stepchild”, the marriage between the U.S. citizen and the biological parent must have occurred before the stepchild turned 18.]

Spouses and children of U.S. citizens who are not physically present in the U.S. as of June 17, 2024, have not been continuously present in the U.S. since June 17, 2014 or earlier, have a serious criminal record that poses a risk of harm to the public or nation, or have negative factors that make them ineligible for or undeserving of adjustment of status will not benefit from this program.

How Will the Parole in Place Program Expand Who May Apply for Adjustment to Permanent Residence?

Under statutory law, INA 245(a) (8 USC §1255), an applicant must have been “inspected and admitted or paroled” into the United States to apply for adjustment of status. The Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, is filed with USCIS by qualified applicants seeking a green card while they are inside the U.S.

If they do not qualify for I-485 adjustment, they could still be eligible for Immigrant Visa processing at the U.S. Consulate or U.S. Embassy abroad. But a departure carries risks, including long-term or permanent separation from their family in the U.S., if the visa is denied.

Even spouses or children of U.S. citizens are not eligible for INA 245(a) adjustment if they have not been inspected and admitted or inspected and paroled into the United States, which is a key requirement.

An eligible applicant who did not enter the U.S. with proper admission, but later receives Parole in Place will meet one major requirement for adjustment of status.

Upon receipt of a properly filed Parole in Place application, USCIS will decide, on a case-by-case basis, whether to grant parole in the favorable exercise of discretion. In its Fact Sheet: DHS Announces New Process to Promote the Unity and Stability of Families, USCIS states it will aim to detect potential fraud, consider the applicant’s immigration record and criminal history (if any), and perform background checks and national security and public safety vetting in the process.

What are the Advantages of the Parole in Place Plan?

1. Eligible parolees may apply for employment authorization and receive temporary protection from removal

In general, a person who is granted parole may apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) or work permit by filing a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, with USCIS under category (c)(11). Furthermore, parole serves as a temporary relief from removal (deportation) for a certain period of time.

2. A Parole in Place grant will allow the applicant to meet the “admission and inspection” requirement for adjustment of status under INA 245(a)

Under current U.S. immigration law or policy, applicants who did not enter the United States with proper inspection and admission or parole cannot adjust to permanent residence. They must instead depart the U.S. to apply for the Immigrant Visa abroad.

A departure from the U.S. triggers the 3/10-year bar under INA 212(a)(9)(B) if they accrued unlawful presence lasting more than 180 days, starting at age 18. Thus, they need to file for and obtain a Form I-601 waiver (if they are abroad) or Form I-601A provisional waiver (if they are in the U.S) to receive the Immigrant Visa before the 3/10-year bar expires.

To get the waiver, the applicant must prove they have a qualifying relative (U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse or parent) who will face extreme hardship if they are not permitted to re-enter the United States as an immigrant. “Extreme hardship” is often very difficult to prove. It must be at a higher level than the ordinary hardship resulting from family separation or the qualifying relative’s relocation to the applicant’s home country for family unity.

If the Form I-601 waiver application is denied by USCIS, the Immigrant Visa applicant is left stuck outside the U.S. (until the unlawful presence bar expires). If the Form I-601A provisional waiver is denied, the applicant might decide to forego the Immigrant Visa process and remain in the U.S. without authorization and risk the possibility of removal (deportation) due to the unlawful presence.

Under the proposed policy, eligible applicants who would otherwise have to apply for a green card through consular processing may request Parole in Place from USCIS to meet the “inspection and parole” requirement for INA 245(a) adjustment of status.

What are the Limitations of the Parole in Place Plan?

1. Parole in Place, by itself, does not make the applicant a permanent resident or provide lawful nonimmigrant or immigrant status

Obtaining Parole in Place does not guarantee permanent residence and only gives you temporary, authorized stay. It is also not a direct path to U.S. citizenship. Applicants must first be granted permanent residence and maintain this status for three or five years before they meet one of the requirements for naturalization.

Parole allows an applicant – who entered the U.S. without proper inspection and admission – to otherwise meet just one of the eligibility criteria for I-485 adjustment. Being lawfully admitted or paroled into the United States is one requirement to filing for permanent residence when the applicant is already physically present in the country. But, by itself, it is not enough to get a green card.

2. Parole in Place does not excuse the applicant from meeting all other eligibility requirements for I-485 adjustment of status and USCIS’ favorable exercise of discretion.

Except for Immediate Relatives (e.g. spouses and children of U.S. citizens) and certain other visa categories, green card applicants must have continuously maintained lawful status since entry into the United States. Otherwise, if they ever violated their status or fell out of status, they do not qualify for INA 245(a) adjustment.

There are also inadmissibility grounds that prohibit the grant of permanent residence. Some of the most common are INA 212(a)(6)(C)(i) (fraud or willful misrepresentation of material facts to obtain U.S. immigration benefits), INA 212(a)(2)(A) (certain criminal convictions), and INA 212(a)(9)(A) (removal orders). If you have an inadmissibility bar, you will be denied adjustment of status unless you qualify for and receive the necessary waiver from USCIS. Some inadmissibility bars, such as INA 212(a)(2)(C) due to controlled substance trafficking, cannot be waived in green card applications.

In addition, spouses and children of U.S. citizens must have an approved Form I-130 immigrant petition filed on their behalf to apply for family-based permanent residence. The U.S. citizen must show, by a preponderance of evidence, there is a real spousal relationship or parent-child/stepchild relationship to get an I-130 approval. Furthermore, if the noncitizen spouse is found to have previously entered a sham marriage to a prior petitioner to obtain U.S. immigration benefits, USCIS is prohibited from approving a subsequent (new) I-130 petition under INA 204(c).

For more information on the I-485 adjustment of status application process, see:

Who is Eligible (and Not Eligible) for Adjustment to Permanent Resident Status?

Adjusting to Permanent Resident Status Under INA 245(a): Bars, Exceptions and Exemptions

A Key Requirement for I-485 Adjustment of Status: Inspection and Admission OR Inspection and Parole

How Will the Parole in Place Program Take Effect?

The Parole in Place program is expected to be implemented by federal rulemaking, not by Congressional action, which is more complex. Due to political polarization, ideological cohesion, and lack of bipartisanship in today’s 118th Congress and prior Congresses, the U.S. immigration system has been broken for decades. There is no real agreement on how to fix this deep-rooted problem, which has no simple solutions. The last major comprehensive reform was The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) passed by the 99th Congress and signed into law by President Ronald Reagan on November 6, 1986.

Under the federal rulemaking process, USCIS (DHS) may implement a new rule by publishing a Notice of the Proposed Rulemaking to the Federal Register for the public to view at http://www.federalregister.gov. This notice allows the public to comment on whether or not a rulemaking should be initiated. The comment period normally takes at least 30 to 60 days. After the comment period closes, the agency reviews and analyzes all the comments. Then it decides whether to implement the proposed rule, modify it, or withdraw it.

A federal rule is issued by agencies, such as DHS, that govern how laws will be applied. It is not the same as statutory law passed by Congress. Statutory law under INA 212(d)(5) (8 U.S.C. 1182(d)(5) does allow parole authority to be exercised, but only on a case-by-case basis, for urgent humanitarian reasons or a significant public benefit, and for a temporary purpose.

To endure possible legal challenges in courts, the Parole in Place program must not contradict U.S. immigration laws (or Congress’ intent when it passed the laws). This is even more critical with the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 28th decision to strike down the Chevron doctrine. In Loper Bright Enterprises, it found that courts do not have to defer to federal agencies’ regulations interpreting ambiguous laws. Courts may instead apply their own interpretation of unclear statutes.

Parole in Place for military families has existed for at least a decade. But now that the U.S. Supreme Court has overturned Chevron, the DHS will have to make an even stronger case for certain undocumented spouses and children of U.S. citizens. Although the Parole in Place plan is expected to become a temporary fix, a federal rule now carries less weight.

Consult a qualified U.S. immigration attorney to discuss any potential Parole in Place benefits that may apply to you. This is NOT new law. Currently, it is a proposed program by Executive Action, which will not go into effect until it is published as a final rule in the Federal Register.

Beware of “notarios” and other consultants who make false promises to get you to pay them fees. If you rely on bad advice, you could put yourself in a worse position to legalize your U.S. immigration status and might further end up in removal (deportation) proceedings.

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The Legal Immigrant provides general information only from Dyan Williams Law. It is based on U.S. immigration laws, regulations and policies that are subject to changeDo not consider it as legal advice. The sharing or receipt of this information does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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