Immigration and firm news

USCIS Announces Future Parole for U Visa Applicants

Today, USCIS announced that it agreed with the Ombudsman’s recommendation to implement a parole policy for U visa petitioners and qualifying family members who live abroad. Parole is neither a visa nor a green card but a legal fiction type of interim status.  The U visa – available to individuals who have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of a qualifying crime and who meet certain other criteria – are capped at 10,000 per fiscal year. When the cap is exceeded, U petitioners who live abroad are placed on a waiting list and must then proactively seek humanitarian parole to enter the United States. As a result, victims of crimes residing abroad are not able to easily aid investigators and prosecutors. USCIS will implement the new policy in the next fiscal year that starts October 1, 2016 (FY 2017), but the start date has not been announced.  Therefore, this benefit is not yet available.  A new form and policy guidance will first need to be issued.

Parole is authorized by statute for a variety of purposes if the applicant’s situation creates a significant public or for humanitarian reasons. Parole is issued case-by-case in the exercise of discretion. Family reunification allows the victim to focus attention on the prosecution of the crime and on rebuilding his or her life. In addition, U petitioners and derivative family members who remain abroad may be subject to violence and harm in the country in which they reside.   Other issues under consideration include: 1) USCIS allowing for concurrent filings of the U visa and the request for parole; and 2) where the parole requests will be decided, presumably at the Vermont Service Center, which handles all other U visa related applications.

Other uses of parole have been discussed elsewhere on this blog and website such as the new proposed rule for International Entrepreneur parole (significant public benefit) and Parole in Place for family members of military service members (both for significant public benefit and humanitarian reasons).  Humanitarian parole is often used for people needing medical attention in the US or for extreme family unification situations or emergencies.  Port parole is often used by the border patrol for people whose status is unclear or for reasons such as pursuing litigation.  Stay tuned for more information about the U-Visa parole program.