Request for parole

Immigration Legal Services

Some noncitizens in immigration detention can request that they be “paroled,” or released, from detention while their case is pending in immigration court.

Under U.S. immigration law, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has discretion to grant “parole” to certain noncitizens to allow them to enter or remain in the United States for specific reasons. Parole under immigration law is very different than in the criminal justice context. Certain noncitizens can physically enter the United States if they are applying for admission but are either inadmissible or do not have a legal basis for being admitted to the United States. DHS only grants parole if the agency determines that there are urgent humanitarian or significant public benefit reasons for a person to be in the United States and that person merits a favorable exercise of discretion. Grants of parole are made for limited periods of time to accomplish a discrete purpose, and individuals are typically expected to depart the United States when the authorized period expires. While individuals who receive a grant of parole are granted entry into the United States, they are not provided an immigration status nor are they formally “admitted” into the United States for purposes of immigration law. An admission occurs when an immigration officer allows a noncitizen to enter the United States pursuant to a visa or another entry document, without the limitation of parole. The distinction between an admission and a parole is a significant one under immigration law. 

While humanitarian parole is explicitly authorized by the INA, there is no statutory or regulatory definition of an “urgent humanitarian reason.” USCIS has stated, however, that it will consider factors such as the time-sensitivity of the circumstances and the degree of suffering that may result if parole is not authorized. According to USCIS, examples of urgent humanitarian circumstances could include, but are not limited to: Receiving critical medical treatment or becoming an organ donor, visiting or caring for a sick relative; attending a funeral or settling the affairs of a deceased relative or coming to the United States for protection from targeted or individualized harm.

Immigration law also authorizes parole that would result in a “significant public benefit,” but like humanitarian parole, there is no statutory or regulatory definition of the term. Typically, this form of parole is used to allow noncitizens to appear for and participate in a civil or criminal legal proceeding in the United States. Significant public benefit parole might be granted, for example, to allow a key witness with no legal means of entering the United States to be paroled into the country long enough to testify in a criminal prosecution.

Each DHS entity has its own methodology for making parole decisions. Moreover, the factors to be considered will vary depending on the type of parole requested. In general, however, since parole is a discretionary benefit, all parole decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis, with the immigration officer considering the reason for the request and whether it constitutes a basis for parole, and then weighing the positive factors in the noncitizen’s case against any negative factors.

Parole is reviewed on a case-by-case basis by an agency under DHS, and the burden of proof is placed on the applicant to establish that parole should be authorized. If parole is authorized, the agency authorizing parole will specify the duration parole may last, tailored to accomplish the purpose of the parole. Parole ends on the date it is set to expire, when the beneficiary departs the United States, or when the individual acquires an immigration status. DHS may revoke parole at any time if it is no longer warranted or the beneficiary violates the conditions of the parole. 

Anyone may request parole into the United States from USCIS. The request may be submitted by the noncitizen or by another person on behalf of the noncitizen. With such requests, USCIS will require proof that the noncitizen will have a means of support while in the United States, often requiring that a parolee have a sponsor who agrees to provide financial support while the parolee is in the United States and for the duration of the parole authorization period. An inability to provide evidence of financial support while in the United States may weigh heavily in the decision and lead to a denial of parole. While there is no official requirement regarding a sponsor’s immigration status, DHS may consider a sponsor who has a more permanent status in the United States more favorably,based on its assumption that such sponsors are more reliably able to provide financial support to the parolee. 

A Request for Parole should not be confused with 'Advanced Parole' where certain noncitizens who are already present in the United States can request a travel document allowing travel abroad while awaiting a green card.

A Request for Parole is complicated, and it is advisable to contact the Law Offices of Meri S. Ponist, P.C. who are experienced in these matters.