By: Angela K. Ho & Nancy E. Miller
A new policy issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will allow family-members of Filipino WWII Veterans to come to the U.S. now and remain here while they wait for their family-based petitions to become current. Starting June 8, 2016, eligible individuals under this policy are able to request parole into the United States on a case-by-case basis to join their families here. The Filipino World War II Veterans Parole (FWVP) policy allows certain beneficiaries of WWII veterans’ family-based immigrant visa petitions to be “paroled” into the U.S. before a visa is available in their category to wait out their time with their veteran family member here instead of outside the U.S.
This policy is intended to recognize the “extraordinary contribution and sacrifices of Filipino veterans” who fought for our country during World War II and to enable these veterans to reunite with their family in their old age.This policy would be an invaluable benefit for eligible individuals, as it allowsfamily members tobypass the extremely long wait time that typically accompanies many family-sponsored petitions. Some family members, for example, have been waiting for over two decades for a visa to become available. This policy would provide, at the very least, the ability for veterans and their faraway family members to be together in the U.S. sooner.
Of the 260,000 Filipino enlisted soldiers, an estimated 26,000 became U.S. citizens. In turn, these veterans petitioned their family members to immigrate over to the U.S. Currently, between 2,000 to 6,000 Filipino American veterans remain living today in the United States, many with family members still outside the U.S. waiting for a visa to become available for them. The new FWVP policy aims to remedy this wait period and assist beneficiaries in reuniting with their families. USCIS will have discretion to approve parole requests for such relatives so that they may wait in the U.S. until they are able to move forward with their permanent resident applications.
The benefit, in the government’s eyes, is twofold. In addition to honoring the sacrifice of Filipino WWII veterans by providing a faster means to family reunification in the U.S., this policy will also provide a significant public benefit in the form of substantive familial relief. Paroled family members will be able to provide their aging veterans and their spouses with much-needed substantive support—physical, financial, emotional—intheir twilight years.
So, who is eligible under the Filipino WWII Veteran Parole Policy?
In order to qualify for FWVP parole, individuals must first be beneficiaries of an approved family-based immigrant visa petition whose qualifying relationship existed on or before May 9, 2016. Second, the petitioning relative must be residing in the U.S. If the petitioner is deceased, then they must have been residing in the United States at the time of death. Third, the petitioning relative must be either a Filipino WWII veteran or the surviving spouse of the veteran, with the Department of Defense recognizing the veteran’s military service. USCIS can verify this information with government records, but in cases where this information is not available, beneficiaries will have the burden of proving eligibility. If the family member has inadmissibility issues, such as criminal history, misrepresentations or prior deportation orders, it may be more difficult to obtain parole.
If the Filipino veteran is still living, the individuals eligible for parole consideration include all family-sponsored preferences, including brothers and sisters. If the Filipino veteran is deceased and the surviving spouse is the petitioner, parole consideration can only be given to the biological children of the surviving spouse and the Filipino veteran. If the petitioning relative is deceased, eligible individuals can also attempt to seek parole on their own behalf by seeking reinstatement of the family petition for humanitarian reasons. These would include qualifying children and brothers and sisters of the deceased Filipino WWII veteran.
This FWVP policy has been implemented by USCIS for the public benefit of Filipino WWII veterans. However, this policy is not a permanent benefit; it is set to expire five (5) years after June 8, 2016. Therefore, time is of the essence. Applications should be submitted as soon as possible. Once parole is granted, individuals can apply for entry at the port of entry (including airports and land borders) to the United States. Department of State consular officers will interview all applicants to determine whether a favorable grant of discretion is appropriate.Individuals must continue to seek re-parole upon parole expiration.
Anyone who has a Filipino WWII veteran parent in the U.S. should consult an experienced and knowledgeable immigration attorney to see if they or their family member qualifies under this very exciting new and temporary policy.