HUMANITARIAN PAROLE: AN EXTRAORDINARY BENEFIT IN UNCERTAIN TIMES
March 30, 2021
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Department of State suspended routine visa services worldwide beginning in March 2020. While some U.S. Embassies and Consulates have resumed operations, the capacity and type of visa services offered are still being determined on a post-by-post basis. The uncertainty of how, when, and where visa services will resume has particularly affected individuals with urgent matters necessitating immediate travel to the United States. In certain of these cases, humanitarian parole may be a remedy.
The purpose of humanitarian parole is to permit an individual to be temporarily paroled into the United States based on an urgent humanitarian reason or a significant public benefit. Despite the disruption to routine visa services discussed above, all U.S. Embassies and Consulates are continuing to provide “emergency and mission-critical visa services” including humanitarian parole.
According to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, common types of humanitarian parole requests include:
To receive medical treatment in the United States;
To reunite with family in the United States for urgent humanitarian reasons;
To care for or otherwise provide support to a seriously or terminally ill relative in the United States;
To attend a funeral or settle the affairs of a deceased relative in the United States;
To come to the United States for protection from targeted or individualized harm; and
To participate in civil legal proceedings in the United States.
The burden is on the applicant to demonstrate his or her eligibility for humanitarian parole. Humanitarian parole is highly discretionary and is not intended to be used to avoid normal visa processing procedures and timelines. It is imperative that an applicant provide any relevant evidence with the initial filing. The relevancy of evidence depends on what type of humanitarian parole an individual is seeking. For example, requests based on medical reasons should include current, official, dated, and signed documentation from a medical provider detailing the medical condition and prognosis; requests based on reuniting with family should include official civil documents establishing the familial relationship; requests based on the death of a relative should include an official death certificate. It is important to note that this list is non-exhaustive, and only provides a single example of the many types of proof that should accompany any humanitarian parole request.
All humanitarian parole requests should also include evidence from the applicant’s U.S.-based petitioner or sponsor. Evidence should include proof of the petitioner’s or sponsor’s identity and lawful immigration status, and how the petitioner or sponsor will financially support the applicant in the United States.
It is also important to remember that humanitarian parole is a temporary benefit which does not confer any permanent immigrant status. Therefore, any humanitarian parole request should also include evidence that the applicant intends to return to his or her home country after the expiration of parole. Evidence can include the existence of close family members, employment verification, property ownership, or any other responsibility that requires the applicant’s presence in his or her home country.
In certain situations, a humanitarian parole applicant may have a means of obtaining lawful immigration status from within the United States through an approved immigrant visa petition, in which case the humanitarian parole request should include proof of the applicant’s ability to regularize his or her status from within the United States. However, as noted above, applicants should remember that humanitarian parole is not intended to be used to avoid normal visa processing procedures and timelines, so a valid basis for making the humanitarian parole request must independently exist.
Humanitarian parole is an extraordinary benefit which can provide a crucial remedy for those who qualify. If you have questions about your eligibility for humanitarian parole or any aspect of immigration, please contact McGee Immigration Law to schedule a free legal consultation.