By: Joseph Barnett and Avi Friedman
With U.S. consular posts suspending routine visa services and the Northern and Southern borders closed to nonessential traffic due to the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), which causes the disease COVID-1, foreign nationals may take a closer look at the option of requesting parole for short-term, humanitarian reasons. Here are three things to know about this option:
- What is Parole? Parole allows an otherwise inadmissible alien to enter the United States for a temporary period pursuant to INA 212(d)(5)(A). A foreign national can request parole for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit through submission of a Form I-131 to USCIS or to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) at a port of entry. Parole does not, by itself, confer any immigration benefit, but a “parolee” may apply for employment authorization after arriving in the United States. At the end of a parole authorization period, a parolee must depart the United States, adjust to immigrant status, or request to be re-paroled.
- What Parole Isn’t. Parole does not allow an alien to circumvent normal visa issuing procedures, including noncurrent priority dates for immigrant visa preference categories, and is not considered an “admission” to the United States, which has legal consequences. Parole is a discretionary authority of the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, which has been delegated to USCIS, CBP, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”), and is not intended as a substitute for inadmissibility waiver processing.
- Supporting Evidence. The U.S. government requires a parolee to have sufficient funds in place to adequately support himself or herself in the United States. This can be accomplished through self-sponsorship, a third-party financial sponsorship, or sponsorship by an organization. Evidence of the urgent medical and familial need, as well as personal reference letters showing past compliance with U.S. law is particularly advisable to include.
Parole remains an important tool to unite families and protect foreign nationals during humanitarian crises. If you believe you may be eligible for humanitarian parole, please contact an experienced immigration attorney at Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP.