On June 18, 2024, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced steps it will take to “promote family unity in the immigration process.”

Please note that you cannot yet apply for benefits pursuant to this announcement. DHS has not published the official requirements but has indicated they will “later this summer.” Until then, any applications received will be rejected until the application period begins.

Typically, when an immigrant is a married to a U.S. citizen, they may apply for permanent residence through their marriage. In many cases, the immigrant must depart the United States and apply for an immigrant visa (permanent residence) abroad in their home country. The process can be lengthy and can result in prolonged periods of separation for mixed families.

To alleviate this, DHS had announced it will establish a new process to consider applications for “parole-in-place” from certain spouses of U.S. citizens. According to the DHS announcement, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will consider applications on a case-by-case basis to determine whether a grant of parole is warranted and whether the applicant merits a favorable exercise of discretion.

What we know so far is that to be considered for parole-in-place, the applicant must:

  • Be present in the United States without admission or parole
  • Have been continuously present in the United States for at least 10 years as of June 17, 2024, and
  • Have a legally valid marriage to a U.S. citizen as of June 17, 2024*

*Immigrant children of parole applicants may also be considered for parole.

Although the detailed requirements are unclear, these requirements seem to indicate individuals who were previously admitted (with a visa, for example), will not be eligible. Additionally, individuals who were not married on or before June 17 or are not in the United States, will likely not qualify.

The DHS announcement notes that the applicant must not have any “disqualifying criminal history or otherwise constitute a threat to national security or public safety;” however, no specific disqualifying factors have been made available yet. The available information notes that immigrants who pose a threat to national security or public safety can be detained, removed, or referred by DHS to other federal agencies for further vetting, investigation, or prosecution as appropriate.

Once the application process is available, applicants will need to file a form with USCIS along with supporting documentation and the necessary fee. Immigrants eligible for and granted parole may also be eligible to apply for permanent residence without having to depart the United States. DHS estimates that approximately 500,000 immigrants and 50,000 children may be eligible for parole through this process.

DHS’ complete announcement can be found here. Information published by USCIS can be found here. We will provide more information as it becomes available.

Please note: This is general information and is not meant to be legal advice. For information on your specific situation, we recommend you use our contact form to schedule an appointment with our office. We would be glad to help you determine the best option for you.