This sponsored column is by Law Office of James Montana PLLC. All questions about it should be directed to James Montana, Esq., Doran Shemin, Esq., and Laura Lorenzo, Esq., practicing attorneys at The Law Office of James Montana PLLC, an immigration-focused law firm located in Falls Church, Virginia. The legal information given here is general in nature. If you want legal advice, contact us for an appointment.
Our loyal reader(s) will recall that we have covered various programs which allow foreign nationals from countries suffering from difficult circumstances to travel legally to the United States and obtain work authorization.
Most notably, the first was the Uniting for Ukraine program; then came a similar program for Venezuelans; and finally, a program for Cubans, Haitians, and Nicaraguans.
On April 27, 2023, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State jointly announced new measures to help decrease irregular regional migration to the United States. The biggest part of that announcement is the creation of a family reunification parole process. This process will apply to nationals of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Colombia.
This parole process has important differences from the earlier parole processes that have come to fruition during the Biden Administration. The earlier processes require a sponsor who requests that the foreign national be able to come to the United States. The sponsor and the foreign national do not have to be related in any way.
By contrast, as the name “family reunification” suggests, the new parole program announced at the end of April will require a family relationship. In fact, a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident must have filed a family petition for their relative and the petition must be approved. U.S. citizens can file family petitions for parents, children, adult sons and daughters regardless of marital status, and siblings. Lawful permanent residents can file family petitions for spouses, children, and adult, unmarried sons and daughters.
As part of the family petition adjudication process, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will determine whether the foreign national relative should be invited to participate in the parole program. The invitation from the U.S. government is a requirement; the relative cannot simply request parole to travel to the United States.
If the relative is invited and approved for parole, the relative may travel to the United States legally. The relative would also be eligible for work authorization.
For now, this is the only information we have. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services expects to release more details in mid-June. But what do we think about this?
If this program works well, we expect that it will indeed assist with family reunification, especially for those family members who have to wait a long time to apply for their green cards due to visa unavailability. For example, there are only 65,000 visas allotted for brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens each year.
Currently, siblings born in El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Colombia are only eligible to receive their green cards if their U.S. citizen sibling filed the family petition on April 8, 2007 or before. The wait times for many visas are astronomical, and do sometimes cause family members to journey to the U.S. southern border.
We hope that this family reunification parole program helps reduce irregular migration to the southern border while also providing foreign nationals a safe way to support themselves while they wait to become eligible for their green cards. Now we must wait and see how the program plays out in reality.
As always, we welcome your comments and will do our best to respond.
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