Biden’s Parole Executive Order: Key Impacts and Implications

Biden's Parole Executive Order

President Joe Biden has introduced a new initiative aimed at providing temporary protections and work permits to certain spouses of U.S. citizens. Announced on June 18, 2024, the program called “parole-in-place” offers approximately 550,000 individuals the opportunity to apply for lawful permanent residency without facing prolonged family separations.
Historically, obtaining permanent residency for non-citizen spouses has been a complicated and risky process due to various legal hurdles. The new program from the Biden administration addresses these challenges, streamlining the pathway to legal status for qualifying individuals. Even if future administrations alter or halt the program, those already granted parole will continue to benefit from an easier route to obtaining a green card.

The Challenge of Unattainable Citizenship for Spouses of U.S. Citizens

Paths to Permanent Residency

Spouses of U.S. citizens typically qualify for an immigrant visa under the “immediate relative” category, granting them the ability to become legal permanent residents. After maintaining this status for several years, they can subsequently apply for U.S. citizenship. Despite these pathways, a significant hurdle remains for individuals who entered the United States without inspection, such as crossing the U.S./Mexico border without prior approval.

Hurdles in the System

These individuals face significant bureaucratic and legal challenges in adjusting their status to permanent residency, despite their theoretical eligibility for green cards. The path to achieving this status is often so complex and fraught with risk that many have been unable to secure it. As a result, approximately 1.2 million people, although married to U.S. citizens, lack formal immigration status.

Federal Law on Adjustment of Status

Federal law stipulates that immigrants who entered through official ports of entry or were paroled into the U.S. can adjust their status to permanent residency without leaving the country. Unfortunately, this option is unavailable to those who entered without inspection. These individuals must exit the U.S. to attend an immigrant visa interview at a consulate abroad.

The Risk of Departure

Leaving the U.S. to apply for a new immigrant visa triggers a significant risk due to a 1996 law that imposes up to a ten-year bar on reentry for anyone unlawfully present in the country for over a year. If these individuals leave to attend an interview, they may face lengthy separations from their families due to this reentry bar.

Waiver Dilemma

Immigrants affected by this bar may seek a waiver, which requires them to demonstrate that their U.S. citizen spouse would experience “extreme hardship” due to their prolonged absence. The waiver application process is uncertain, and departing the U.S. before waiver approval is a significant gamble. To mitigate this issue, immigrants can apply for provisional waivers before leaving the country.

Provisional Waiver Delays

However, the approval process for these provisional waivers is tremendously slow. As of April 2024, the U.S. government averaged over 41 months to adjudicate these waivers, in addition to the overall time needed for the immigrant visa application and subsequent consulate interview.

Summary Table of Challenges

Challenge Description
Bureaucratic Hurdles Pathway is complex and risky for those who entered without inspection
Legal Reentry Bar 1996 law imposes up to a ten-year bar for those unlawfully present > 1 year
Waiver Requirement Need to demonstrate “extreme hardship” for waiver approval
Waiver Processing Over 41 months for provisional waiver adjudication

In summary, despite the theoretically available pathways to citizenship, spouses of U.S. citizens face significant bureaucratic, legal, and practical obstacles. The extended time required for waiver approvals and the risks associated with departing the U.S. further complicate their journey to secure permanent residency and ultimately U.S. citizenship.

The Solution: Parole-In-Place Allows People to Apply for Green Cards Without Leaving the U.S.

Humanitarian parole provides a pathway for individuals who lack a lawful basis to enter or remain in the United States. This executive branch’s discretion is utilized for cases where allowing someone to stay would address urgent humanitarian reasons or offer significant public benefits. Beneficiaries of this parole can temporarily stay in the U.S. for periods varying from a few days to several years and may also apply for work authorization to support themselves.

Parole-in-place is a specific form of humanitarian parole granted to those already inside the United States. This status allows them to be considered as having been “inspected and paroled” under federal law. Consequently, individuals eligible to apply for green cards through their spouses can adjust their status within the U.S., avoiding the risks associated with leaving the country, such as triggering reentry bars.

Even if the parole status expires or is revoked in the future, those who have been granted parole-in-place still retain their status of having been paroled. This ensures that their eligibility to apply for green cards remains intact, regardless of potential legal changes or policy shifts. Essentially, the protection and benefits offered continue despite the program’s potential discontinuation or court invalidation.

This mechanism helps maintain family unity by allowing spouses of U.S. citizens who have received parole-in-place to pursue permanent residency without the interruption or stress of international travel. Beneficiaries thus avoid the complexities and emotional strain associated with possible separation, ensuring stability and continuity for families.

Overall, parole-in-place serves as an important tool to support the integration of individuals who contribute to societal and familial structures, reinforcing the humanitarian and practical imperatives of U.S. immigration policy.

Beneficiaries: Nearly Half a Million Immigrants and Their U.S. Citizen Families

The recently announced Biden administration’s parole program aims to provide crucial support for nearly half a million immigrants and their U.S. citizen families. To participate in the program, eligible immigrants will need to submit a new application using a forthcoming form expected to be available later this summer.

Applicants for the parole program must meet specific criteria, including:

  • Continuous residency in the U.S. since June 17, 2014
  • Physical presence in the U.S. on June 17, 2024
  • Legal marriage to a U.S. citizen as of June 17, 2024
  • Entry into the U.S. without admission or parole, with no current lawful status
  • No convictions for disqualifying criminal offenses
  • No threat to national security or public safety
  • A favorable exercise of discretion

In addition to providing documentation proving they meet these conditions, applicants will have to pay an application fee. The exact forms of acceptable documentation and the fee amount have not yet been disclosed.

An important aspect of the parole program is that it does not explicitly state that only those eligible for permanent residency can apply. This could allow individuals who do not currently qualify for permanent residency to still benefit from parole protections and obtain work permits. For instance, some individuals who were previously deported and reentered without inspection might be able to receive these protections and permits.

The White House estimates around 500,000 spouses of U.S. citizens could meet the criteria for eligibility, alongside their stepchildren, which could add another 50,000 beneficiaries.

While awaiting approval for their immigrant visas, parole-in-place will grant these individuals the ability to legally work in the U.S. This program promises to offer lasting security and significant relief to applicants, their U.S. citizen spouses, and often their U.S.-born children.

The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.