If you are interested in becoming a permanent resident of the United States, and are currently present in the United States, chances are you are wondering if you will be able to remain in the United States to apply for your residency card, or if you will be required to leave the United States in order to complete that application process. The Immigration and Nationality Act has multiple sections enumerating infractions that prevent an immigrant from being able to apply for residency while physically present in the United States. One of those sections discusses what are called inadmissibilities- immigration infractions that prevent a government official from admitting an immigrant into the United States. Common inadmissibilities include overstaying a visa past the time the US government has authorized an immigrant to stay in the US, and entering the country without a visa, or outside of a Port of Entry, or without being inspected by an immigration official. Intending immigrants with inadmissibilities are ineligible to apply for permanent residency within the United States and must leave to complete their application through a US consulate in their country of citizenship. Or, are they? Like with most areas of the law, certain exceptions exist under this broad and general rule. One of those exceptions is a program called Parole in Place.
Parole in Place is a program designed to waive select inadmissibility of family members of active-duty US military, Selective Reserve, and Ready Reserve, as well as former US military, Selective Reserve, and Ready Reserve. If you are someone who was not inspected and admitted upon entering the United States, either entering without a visa and/or failing to enter the United States at a designated Port of Entry, you may apply for parole in place if you are the spouse, widow(er), parent, or son or daughter of one of the previously described service members. It is important to note that the service member does not have to be active or a US citizen, and you, as the applicant, do not have to be a certain age. To apply, you must file an application for an advanced travel document. You will be required to prove your relationship to the service member, the US military, Selective Reserve, or Ready Reserve status of your family member, and that you are a person deserving of parole. Parole in Place is granted at the discretion of the immigration officer. This means the officer may deny the application if s/he feels the negative aspects of your application outweigh the positives and may also require you, and your relative, to appear for an interview.
If granted Parole in Place, you become a parolee of the United States for a year and may be eligible for work authorization. You will be issued an I-94 document, but be mindful this is not an entry document and does not authorize you to leave and return to the United States. This change of status may make you eligible to apply for residency within the United States if you have no other inadmissibilities and you are an immediate relative of the service member. Schedule a consultation with an experienced immigration attorney to discuss if you qualify.