What is Military Parole in Place?
Military Parole in Place (MIL-PIP) is an immigration benefit reserved for military members and veterans, whether alive or deceased, that grants spouses, parents, and sons and daughters temporary permission to be in the U.S. while they pursue permanent legal status.
Those receiving MIL-PIP are eligible for work authorization and do not accrue unlawful presence during the period they receive parole. MIL-PIP also allows family members to apply for immigration benefits that require a lawful entry into the U.S., including those who otherwise might be subject to lengthy unlawful presence bars.
The objective of this benefit is to assure military members can carry out their military duties without being distracted or pre-occupied with the potential deportation of family members who do not have legal immigration status in the U.S. It also serves to honor and recognize the military service of veterans.
Who is eligible for MIL-PIP?
MIL-PIP is available to spouses, parents, and sons and daughters of members of:
Active-duty members of the U.S. armed forces;
Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve members (including National Guard members); or
Veterans (living or deceased) who have served on active duty or in the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve and who were not dishonorably discharged.
Sons and daughters of qualifying military members and veterans are eligible for this benefit regardless of their age or their marital status.
While MIL-PIP can serve as an important benefit to many military families, it is not clear how many service members or veterans are even aware of it. Many may lack information about MIL-PIP and may miss out on utilizing it as their family members pursue legal immigration status.
What is the history of MIL-PIP?
The following is a brief history of the MIL-PIP program:
2007: DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff ordered the first known parole in place of a military spouse who was facing deportation while her US military husband, Staff Sergeant Alex Jimenez, was missing in action in Iraq.
2010: USCIS notified Congress that it had created a military parole in place policy.
2013: USCIS issued a Policy Memorandum to ensure consistent adjudication of service member and veteran parole requests.
2016: USCIS issued a Policy Memorandum that further expanded and clarified the MIL-PIP, including family members of veterans who are deceased, and changing children to sons and daughters—thereby removing any requirement that sons and daughters must be under 21 and unmarried to benefit from MIL-PIP.
2017: President Trump issued an Executive Order that stated parole should be “exercised only on a case-by-case basis” [Sec. 11, (d)].
2019: Media reports suggested the Trump Administration might end MIL-PIP. In response, 22 Senators sent a letter to DHS/DOD asking that they reverse any plans to end MIL-PIP.
2019: USCIS ended two separate parole programs (Haitian Family Reunification Parole and Filipino World War II Veterans Parole) and stated plans to review other parole programs.
2019: Later that year, the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2020 established the sense of Congress that “parole in place reinforces the objective of military family unity” (emphasis added).
2021: Senator Tammy Duckworth sent a letter to President-elect Biden encouraging that he address immigration issues impacting military families, including avoiding the deportation of veterans, citizenship opportunities for military members, and potential improvements to MIL-PIP.
How long does the MIL-PIP application process take?
The processing times for PIP as reported on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website shows median processing times increasing from 2.5 months in 2017 to 5.1 months as of June of 2021. This USCIS data solely reflects the time from the receipt of application to its completion. It does not account for the time it takes to complete the application form, or gather necessary supporting documentation (such as proof of eligibility or proof of family relationship).
What is involved in the MIL-PIP application process?
In order to apply for MIL-PIP, an eligible individual will need to complete Form I-131, which is titled “Application for Travel Document.” Rather than checking one of the boxes under “application type” in part 2 of the form, applicants applying for MIL-PIP should write in “Military PIP.”
In addition, the following documentation must be submitted with the application:
Proof of family relationship (marriage certificate, birth certificate, etc.),
Proof of service in the armed services,
Passport photos, and
If available, any additional “favorable discretionary factors.”
Once completed, the application along with all supporting documentation must be submitted to the local USCIS office. The proper local office is determined by either the place of permanent residence or the location of an official military assignment to which the applicant has been assigned. Given the complexities of immigration law, it is best to obtain legal representation, either by retaining a licensed attorney or from 501(c) (3) nonprofit organizations with accredited representatives and subject-matter expertise in MIL-PIP.
MIL-PIP is a valuable immigration benefit for military members, veterans, and their families. Raising awareness of this benefit and providing needed information will be beneficial to service members, veterans, and their family members.
Once you have a removal order...
Even if you have an in absentia removal order, you may still be able to take advantage of the military PIP, however, this will likely require you to retain an attorney. This will require a filing of a Prosecutorial Discretion Request with the Office of Chief Counsel for a Joint Motion to Reopen and Dismiss in order to file for Military PIP with the USCIS, which would allow you to file for AOS. If you file directly with USCIS, it will likely decline jurisdiction in light of the removal order.