The U.S. government recognizes the important sacrifices made by members and former members of the U.S. military. In recognition of the service and sacrifice of these honored men and women, U.S. immigration law provides certain key benefits to assist and streamline the immigration process for their loved ones.
Permanent Residence for Family of U.S. Military and Family-Based Survivor Benefits
In general, military spouses and other qualified family members must go through the same immigration processes as everyone else. However, there are some benefits to family members of the U.S. military to allow them to adjust status quickly and without departing the United States. This is a welcome benefit for family members who may have inadmissibility factors such as unlawful presence issues impacting their ability to adjust status.
Parole in Place for Spouses, Children and Parents of Veterans, Reserves and Military Members
Parole-in-place allows spouses, children and parents of active duty or veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces to potentially remain in the U.S. and obtain certain benefits from within the U.S. even if they entered without inspection and are undocumented. Some benefits include eligibility for work authorization and permanent residency. Parole in place overcomes certain grounds of inadmissibility that would have previously applied and prevented the family member from remaining in the U.S. and becoming a permanent resident.
The idea behind parole in place is that members of the U.S. armed forces and Veterans already face stress and anxiety because of the immigration status of their family members in the United States. Military preparedness can be adversely affected if active members have to worry about the immigration status of their family. The parole-in-place program provides a much-needed avenue for family members to file for permanent residency without the stress and anxiety of leaving the United States. Note that other inadmissibility issues may apply and criminal history can be a bar to obtaining permanent residency so always speak with a qualified immigration attorney experienced with Parole in Place regarding whether this is the right option for your loved one before exposing them to USCIS.
Immigration Benefits for Deceased Military Members
The National Defense Authorization Act of 2004 created special immigration benefits for certain immediate family members (spouses, parents, and unmarried children) whose U.S. military relative has died. The U.S. military member must have served honorably in the Armed Forces and died as a result of injury or disease incurred in or aggravated by combat. The law creates a “self-petition” process to allow an immediate family member to file or continue on in the family-based immigration process. Family members must file their petitions within two years of the U.S. military relative’s death. Surviving members seeking immigration benefits are given special consideration in the processing of their application for permanent residence.
Expedited and Overseas Citizenship for Military Dependents
Members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their spouses and children may also be eligible for expedited and overseas processing of their naturalization applications. They must still meet the naturalization requirements, but may qualify for exceptions to the continuous residence and physical presence requirements required of other naturalization applicants. Spouses may also qualify for naturalization overseas if they are living overseas due to a military’s spouse’s deployment.
These benefits help a military family stay together and help alleviate any immigration process uncertainty, thereby allowing our U.S. active military personnel to continue to serve knowing their family members will be taken care of. Let us help you identify the benefits you may qualify for. Despite these benefits, many USCIS offices are unfamiliar with the adjudication of these benefits, may ask for the wrong documentation and ask invasive and unwarranted questions in interviews if you appear alone. It’s in your best interest to always speak with a qualified immigration attorney about your options and what to expect in your case before filing anything with the government.
SGG attorneys have worked with multiple members of various branches of the military, both in active duty and in the reserves in obtaining green cards and lawful status for their loved ones. Let us assist you in accessing the benefits potentially available to you.