Humanitarian Parole

The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security may parole into the United States any foreign individual for urgent medical or humanitarian reasons or other emergencies. Humanitarian Parole is often a “last chance” to gain entry to the US for those individuals who are not otherwise eligible for a visa. Review of these applications is quite stringent: approximately ¾ of all humanitarian parole applications are denied. It is prescribed on a case-by-case basis and may not normally be used to circumvent normal visa-issuing procedures or applications for refugee status.

What Types of Cases are Appropriate for Humanitarian Parole?

Situations appropriate for humanitarian parole vary greatly. These include:

  1. Obtaining urgent medical treatment in the United States
  2. Donating an organ in the US
  3. Visiting, assisting, or supporting a relative in the US temporarily, such as
    1. a relative in the US who has a serious medical condition
    2. a relative in the US who is in a hospice or dying
    3. a relative in the US who has a high-risk pregnancy, must remain on bed rest, and needs assistance to care for young children
  4. Attending the funeral of a family member in the United States
  5. Settling the affairs of a deceased relative
  6. Seeking family unity by bringing a “stranded” family member overseas to join a family member in the US (e.g., Diversity Lottery cases where a parent successfully adjusted status in the US and the child abroad did not have time before September 30 to procure a visa)
  7. Seeking family unity by bringing together family members of refugees and asylees who do not qualify under the I-730 reunification process, such as
    1. a spouse of a refugee or asylee who married the principal after he or she was granted asylum status or admitted to the US as a refugee
    2. a same sex partner of a refugee or asylee who was unable to marry the principal
      under the laws of their former country of residence
    3. a child who was conceived after the principal’s grant of asylum or admission to the US as a refugee
    4. a grandchild of a principal asylee or refugee (i.e., a child of a derivate asylee or refugee)
    5. a child of a refugee or asylee who gets married prior to the date the principal is granted asylum status or the refugee is admitted as a refugee
  8. Providing protection from a civil war or after a natural disaster, such as earthquakes, floods, and hurricanes
  9. Providing protection from imminent targeted harm, such as arrest, torture, or killing
  10. Uniting an adopted child unable to obtain an immigrant visa with parents in the US until his status can be legalized in the US
  11. Participating in legal proceedings in the US
  12. Failing to obtain an advance parole document before leaving the US and having an adjustment of status application pending, or the advance parole document expired before able to return to the US
  13. Failing to obtain a refugee travel document by a refugee before leaving the US, or the document expired before able to return to the US
  14. Failing to obtain a reentry permit by a legal permanent resident before leaving the US, or the permit expired before able to return to the US
  15. Obtaining a visa is not physically possible, such as when the Department of State suspended visa issuance operations as a result of the coronavirus crisis
  16. Other urgent humanitarian situations not listed above in which the applicant is not eligible for a visa or other travel document.

Who Can Apply?

Humanitarian Parole can only be requested for persons who are outside of the U. S. Anyone can file an application for humanitarian parole: the prospective parolee, a sponsoring relative, an attorney or any other interested individual or organization.

How Long is the Parole Valid?

Humanitarian Parole is granted for a period of time to coincide with the duration of the emergency or humanitarian situation that forms the basis for the request. Usually, the maximum time limit is for 1 year, although it may be authorized for up to 2 years.

What Rights are Conferred?

Legally, parole is not considered an “admission” to the United States. So individuals who are otherwise inadmissible are paroled into the United States. The parole does not grant any immigration status. However, it does provide the ability to remain in the United States until the expiration of the status. While in the United States, he or she may apply for an employment authorization document. It also provides the opportunity to pursue avenues to legalize one’s status — for example, a child of a green card holder may file an adjustment of status application.

What is Re-Parole?

Technically, there is no legal provision for an “extension” of parole. However, while in the United States in parole status, one can apply for re-parole, which essentially serves as an extension of parole status. For example, if a child has received humanitarian parole and has a pending adjustment of status application, parole can be renewed for up to 2 years each time until the approval of the application for permanent residency. Or if medical treatment is ongoing and requires additional time in the United States, re-parole may be authorized.

What is Involved in the Humanitarian Parole Process?

An I-131 application along with supporting documentation is submitted to the Humanitarian Affairs Branch of USCIS or directly to the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at the border. (A third agency within the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), handles parole requests related to court hearings, intelligence matters, and detained individuals.) The supporting documentation should show the humanitarian problem or emergency; the relationship with the sponsor; and the financial wherewithal of the sponsor. The sponsor must complete an I-134 form and provide tax and income documentation.

In considering the humanitarian parole application, first, the examiner will determine whether there is an urgent humanitarian situation. If there is, she will then consider whether the case warrants an exercise of positive discretion. The reviewing officer uses a totality of circumstances test, such as the urgency of the situation; how an approval or denial will impact that person; and whether any suffering may result from a refusal of the humanitarian parole. Other factors that the examiner considers include how likely the purpose will be achieved within a limited duration of time; the beneficiary’s immigration and criminal history; the level of financial support in the United States; the beneficiary’s reputation, character, and potential impact in the US; whether home country options are available (e.g., for medical treatment or resettlement if in a dangerous situation); and whether other visa options exist. Certain applications will be processed on an expedited basis: medical emergencies and applications which concern children under 16, physically and/or mentally challenged individuals, and family reunification issues.

If it is a USCIS humanitarian parole case, upon approval, the individual being paroled into the United States must obtain a boarding document from the nearest US consulate. The individual will complete a DS-160 application form and go through biometrics and an interview. If no derogatory information is uncovered, after the interview the individual will receive a travel document authorizing the boarding of a plane and entry to the United States within 30 days. Upon arrival to the US, CBP will issue an I-94 documenting the authorized length of stay.

If the application was filed with and approved by CBP at the border, then the CBP officer will grant the entry.

If the humanitarian parole application is denied, the refusal letter usually will not provide specific details for the refusal. However, a new application can be submitted with new evidence or a request to reconsider the initial denial can be filed.

How does W&A help?

White & Associates can help people in emergency or “last chance” situations to successfully present their case for humanitarian parole. Our firm has helped several clients successfully petition for humanitarian parole in the past. For example, we helped to reunify a 9 year-old girl with her family in the United States after she was unable to receive an immigrant visa before the expiration of the Diversity Lottery Visa Program. In another case, our firm helped a woman obtain humanitarian parole after she was separated from her husband and children because of paperwork lost by an embassy and after she had sold her real estate in anticipation of receiving a visa. For another client, we helped her secure humanitarian parole for her two minor children, extend their status in the US by securing re-parole for them, and obtain permanent residency without leaving the US. To see how we have helped individuals obtain humanitarian parole over the years, please visit the Case Studies section.

These cases can be very complicated and labor-intensive. Financial support, DNA evidence, congressional support, affidavits, and voluminous evidence documenting the emergency or humanitarian situation are often required. Protection cases, while sympathetic, are difficult because of the “slippery slope” syndrome — the examiner cannot grant humanitarian parole to all of those who are victimized. Such cases may also have other alternatives, such as relocation to another part of the country, instead of humanitarian parole.

We will formulate a strategy for your case and prepare the application and supporting documentation in order to maximize the chances of its approval. If you were denied, we can assist in preparing a new application or request reconsideration. We can also assist with a re-parole application for those currently in the US in parole status and submit applications to legalize status on a permanent basis. Please feel free to contact us so that we may be able to assess your case.