Many people who immigrated to the United States feel deeply grateful for their new home country. Military service is one of the many ways that immigrants benefit the country as a whole. There is a strong history of first-generation and second-generation immigrants joining the United States military as a way to pay back what they receive when they enter the country.
That service comes with pay, but also with risks. Immigrants who serve in the military may run afoul of immigration laws themselves or could have family members without the necessary documentation. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) extends special consideration to military immigrants and their immediate family members.
There are several programs that can benefit those in the military and their loved ones if an immigration issue arises. Prosecutors are lawyers who act on behalf of the government. They have the right to make certain choices at their own discretion. The USCIS extends two kinds of discretionary options for immigrants with a connection to the military.
Parole in place
People who entered the United States without documentation are typically subject to deportation if they get caught. However, if they serve in the military themselves or if they are the spouse, widow, parent or child of an active-duty servicemember, or someone who served and was not dishonorably discharged, they have more protection.
They can ask for parole in place. They can receive permission to stay in the United States in one-year increments so that they can apply for admission. The USCIS reviews each of these applications on a case-by-case basis. Parole in place can help those who might eventually qualify for legal immigration.
Deferred actions are among a prosecutor’s discretionary power, meaning a temporary delay in enforcement or removal efforts. The USCIS can grant deferred action to someone facing deportation. It will temporarily prevent removal actions but does not actually provide lawful status. However, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) considers you to be lawfully present in the U.S. for the period of deferred action.
During that deferred action, someone can apply for employment so that they better align with immigration standards. Spouses, widows, parents and children of servicemembers may qualify for deferred action.
With both of these discretionary programs for military members and their families, a lot of paperwork is necessary. Understanding the special systems in place for immigrant military servicemembers and immigrants with family members who served in the military can help those facing removal or struggling with their undocumented status.