Process to promote the unity and stability of families

US IMMIGRATION NOTES - Atty Marco F.G. Tomakin - The Freeman

Last week we mentioned the possibility that President Biden will issue a policy directive allowing spouses of US citizens to remain in the US and have some forms of recourse towards legalization. On June 18, 2024, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a key step toward fulfilling President Biden’s commitment to promoting family unity in the immigration system.

The full announcement states: "DHS will establish a new process to consider, on a case-by-case basis, requests for certain noncitizen spouses of U.S. citizens who have been continuously physically present without admission or parole in the United States for 10 years or more; have no disqualifying criminal convictions; do not pose a threat to national security and public safety and pass vetting; are otherwise eligible to apply for adjustment of status; and merit a favorable exercise of discretion.

“If paroled, these noncitizens will generally be able to apply for lawful permanent residence without having to leave the United States and be processed by a U.S. consulate overseas. DHS estimates that 500,000 noncitizen spouses of U.S. citizens could be eligible to access this process; on average, these noncitizens have resided in the United States for 23 years. Approximately 50,000 noncitizen children of these spouses are estimated to be eligible to seek parole under this process.

“To be considered on a case-by-case basis for a discretionary grant of parole in place under this process, an individual 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.

“In addition, individuals must not have disqualifying criminal history or otherwise constitute a threat to national security or public safety and should otherwise merit a favorable exercise of discretion.

“Noncitizen children of spouses who are granted parole under this process may also be considered for parole on a case-by-case basis under this process if they are physically present in the United States without admission or parole and have a qualifying stepchild relationship with a U.S. citizen parent as defined by the Immigration and Nationality Act as of June 17, 2024.

“In order to be considered for parole, an individual will need to file a form with USCIS along with supporting documentation to show they meet the requirements and pay a fee. Further information regarding eligibility and the application process, including a notice in the Federal Register, will be published in the near term. USCIS will reject any filings or individual requests in relation to this process received before the date when the application process begins later this summer.

“Upon receipt of a properly filed parole in place request, USCIS will determine on a case-by-case basis whether a grant of parole is warranted based on a significant public benefit or urgent humanitarian reasons and whether the applicant merits a favorable exercise of discretion. All requests will take into consideration the potential requestor’s previous immigration history, criminal history, the results of background checks and national security and public safety vetting, and any other relevant information available to or requested by USCIS.

“Additional information on the application process, required fee, and other key information will be detailed in a forthcoming Federal Register Notice. USCIS will reject any filing received prior to the publication of the Federal Register Notice."

In the coming weeks, we will fully know the operational process on how USCIS will implement this directive. In the meantime, stay tuned to what unfolds in the near future for these eligible spouses.

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