What is the military PIP?
July 4th is Independence Day in the United States, and for many, this month is an opportunity to recognize the contributions of all the military personnel, both veteran and active duty, who have fought for this country since the moment of its creation. Today on our blog, we here at Eagan would like to honor the service of America’s immigrants. We would also like to take a moment to explain a little-known immigration benefit known as Military Parole in Place (PIP), which provides status to undocumented family members of active or veteran U.S. military.
A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY
Let’s start by talking about why Military PIP was created in the first place. On May 12, 2007, 25-year-old Army Staff Sergeant, Alex Jimenez, was captured by enemy forces in Jurf es Sakhr, Iraq. While the U.S. Military searched for him, Alex was considered missing in action. At the same time back in the U.S., Alex’ wife, Yaderlin Hiraldo Jimenez, was being deported. Yaderlin was in a difficult situation very similar to many of our clients’ situations today. Although she and Alex married in 2004, because she entered the country without a visa in 2001, the government wanted her to return to her native Dominican Republic and apply to re-enter. Unfortunately, as soon as she departed, she would be barred for 10 years from coming back to the United States. Without Alex’ support, her situation seemed hopeless.
Instead, because of the national media attention surrounding Yaderlin’s case, an immigration judge issued a temporary stay on the proceedings. Then the Department of Homeland Security ordered the first known PIP for a military spouse. As a result, Yaderlin became eligible to adjust her status to permanent resident.
Tragically, Alex and Yaderlin were never reunited. On July 8, 2008, 14 months after he went missing, his remains and those of his comrade were discovered in a shallow grave 12.5 miles to the south of where his unit was ambushed. At the time of his passing, Alex was just 25 years old.
Alex Jimenez was a hero, and today his legacy lives on in the Military PIP policy first introduced to help his wife, Yaderlin, while he was missing in action. Her case showed the world that members of the military, especially those that have made the ultimate sacrifice, deserve to know that their family is secure back home and safe from deportation. As the USCIS policy memorandum issued in 2013 states, “our veterans, who have served and sacrificed for our nation, can face stress and anxiety because of the immigration status of their family members in the United States. We as a nation have made a commitment to our veterans, to support and care for them. It is a commitment that begins at enlistment, and continues as they become veterans.”
MILITARY PIP: DO I QUALIFY? IF SO, HOW DO I APPLY?
Let’s now talk about Military PIP itself, starting with whether you or someone you know qualifies. Military PIP is available to the spouses, parents, sons and daughters of:
- Active-duty members of the U.S. Armed Forces
- Military Reserve members (including members of the National Guard)
- Veterans, both living and deceased, who have served on active duty or in the reserves and were not dishonorably discharged.
Then there are a few other conditions you need to meet to qualify. You must:
- Be physically present in the United States
- Not have been previously “admitted” (this means you entered without a visa, such as by crossing the border)
- Not have any serious criminal convictions.
However, because Military PIP is “discretionary” (that means considered on a case-by-case basis), some people with criminal convictions have been granted parole in the past.
Once you’ve determined that you are eligible, the next step is to get in touch with an attorney who can help you with your application. Because the laws around Military PIP are complex, you’re going to want an expert by your side to help you prepare the best possible case. Your attorney will ask you to gather a few documents, such as:
- Proof of your relationship to the armed forced member, for instance, a marriage certificate or birth certificate
- Proof of their service in the armed forces
- Passport photos
Once you have all that, these documents will be sent together with a form known as an I-131 to the local USCIS office, where immigration will examine your case before making a decision. The current wait time to hear back from USCIS is around three months.
BENEFITS OF MILITARY PIP
Once your Military PIP is approved, you’ll have reason to celebrate, because a lot of good things are about to come your way. First you will receive a document called an I-94, which states that you have been granted “parole” for the duration of one year. Parole means that you are legally authorized to remain in the United States, so you cannot be deported.
Once you have your I-94, you will be able to apply for your work permit. All you will need to do is submit a copy of the I-94 with your employment authorization application, known as an I-765. You will have to wait a couple more months for USCIS to approve the I-765, but after that you will have your work permit. Also, although the parole and work permit are only valid for a period of one year, they can be renewed indefinitely, so you will never have to worry about deportation again.
Best of all, a grant of Military PIP may allow you to adjust your status to permanent resident. If like Alex Jimenez’s wife, Yaderlin, you entered the United States without being admitted, then often the only way to adjust your status through your spouse, parent or child is to leave the U.S. and apply at the U.S. consulate in your home country. This is called consular processing. Unfortunately, unless you are approved for a waiver, leaving the U.S. can trigger a penalty, which may prevent you from ever re-entering. Military PIP changes that. If you are approved, your last entry will be treated as a lawful admission, and you will be able to become a permanent resident without ever having to leave the United States.
If you think you or someone you know may be eligible for Military Parole in Place, please do not hesitate to contact us at 202-709-6439. Our immigration specialists are ready to answer any questions you have. Then, if you are ready to apply, we will find the way to get you your benefits as fast as possible.