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Biden Announces Legal Protections for Undocumented Spouses of U.S. Citizens


USCIS Sets August 19, 2024 as Application Start Date for New Spousal Protection Policy

Jul 17, 2024


President Biden talks about immigration

Last updated: July 17, 2024

Important:

USCIS announced today that the application process for this program will open on August 19, 2024. Do not apply before this date.

On June 18, 2024, the Biden administration announced a new policy that will grant temporary legal status and a potential path to citizenship for hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants married to U.S. citizens. This policy, known as “parole in place” (PIP), is part of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) actions to promote family unity in the immigration process, consistent with the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to keeping families together.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is establishing a process to consider, on a case-by-case basis, requests for parole in place from certain noncitizen spouses of U.S. citizens who have been in the U.S. for at least a decade. If parole is granted, noncitizens eligible to apply for lawful permanent residence based on their marriage to a U.S. citizen will be able to do so without leaving the United States.

USCIS will reject any applications submitted before August 19, 2024. More information about eligibility and the application process will be published in a forthcoming Federal Register notice.

On June 18, 2024, the Biden administration announced a new policy that will grant temporary legal status and a potential path to citizenship for hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants married to U.S. citizens. This policy, known as “parole in place” (PIP), is part of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) actions to promote family unity in the immigration process, consistent with the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to keeping families together.

Boundless can help you adjust your status after your Parole in Place is approved.

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What does the policy say?

The policy, known as “parole in place (PIP),” would allow undocumented immigrants who have American citizen spouses to receive temporary work permits and legal status. It would also allow them to navigate around certain U.S. legal obstacles that currently prevent them from obtaining permanent residency if they entered the country illegally. By obtaining parole in place, these individuals could eventually qualify for green cards and, later, U.S. citizenship without needing to leave the country.

According to the White House, the move will protect roughly half a million spouses of U.S. citizens and around 50,000 undocumented children under 21 whose parent is married to a U.S. citizen.

Who is eligible?

To be considered for a discretionary grant of parole, on a case-by-case basis, under this process, you must:

  • Be present in the United States without admission or parole
  • Have been continuously present in the United States for at least 10 years as of June 17, 2024
  • Have a legally valid marriage to a U.S. citizen as of June 17, 2024
  • Not have any disqualifying criminal history or otherwise constitute a threat to national security or public safety
  • Otherwise merit a favorable exercise of discretion

DHS may also consider noncitizen children of requestors under this process if, as of June 17, 2024, they were physically present in the United States without admission or parole and have a qualifying stepchild relationship with a U.S. citizen.

What is a “favorable exercise of discretion?”

This means that even if an applicant meets all the other criteria, immigration officials still have the final say in approving or denying the application.


What You Can Do Now

Although USCIS is not currently accepting applications, you can begin to prepare to file a parole application by gathering evidence of your eligibility, such as:

  • Evidence of a legally valid marriage to a U.S. citizen as of June 17, 2024, such as a marriage certificate
  • Documentation of proof of identity, including expired documents

Start preparing now with Boundless’ comprehensive parole-in-place workbook, then continue your journey with us to a marriage green card. Get started now.

Policy Details

The policy would allow undocumented immigrants who have American citizen spouses to receive temporary work permits and legal status. It would also allow them to navigate around certain U.S. legal obstacles (such as an I-94 travel record) that currently prevent them from obtaining permanent residency if they entered the country illegally. By obtaining parole in place, these individuals could eventually qualify for green cards and, later, U.S. citizenship without needing to leave the country.

According to the White House, the move will protect roughly half a million spouses of U.S. citizens and around 50,000 undocumented children under 21 whose parent is married to a U.S. citizen. Most people eligible for these protections have resided in the U.S. for 23 years or more.

Process and Requirements

Once approved, recipients will have three years to apply for permanent residency through the Parole in Place (PIP) program and will be eligible for work authorization.

Once undocumented spouses go through the PIP program, they will receive an I-94 travel record. This record is crucial because it makes them eligible to adjust their status to a marriage-based green card.

The process is expected to be similar to the current military PIP program. These cases are typically processed quickly, and most beneficiaries can immediately file the I-485 application to adjust their status to a green card holder after parole is granted.

Navigate the parole-in-place process with confidence using Boundless’ step-by-step workbook. Then, when you’re ready for your green card, let Boundless guide you through the AOS process. Check eligibility.

Impact and Scope

Progressive lawmakers and immigrant advocacy groups have praised the policy as a positive step that could energize Latino voters ahead of the upcoming elections. However, the plan is expected to face legal challenges. The Biden administration has previously been hit with lawsuits over its use of the parole authority, and there is precedent for judicial pushback; in 2016, a deadlocked Supreme Court prevented a similar Obama-era initiative.

Despite potential legal hurdles, the Biden administration has used the immigration parole authority extensively, including for resettling refugees from Afghanistan, Haiti, and Ukraine. The new plan would leverage the same authority to provide relief for those already living in the U.S.

Historical Context and Precedents

The concept of parole in place is not entirely new. Since the Bush administration, a smaller-scale version of this program has existed for immediate relatives of U.S. military members. Congress affirmed this policy in 2020. The proposed expansion would be the most extensive relief for undocumented immigrants since the 1986 amnesty law that legalized 2.7 million people.

What to expect next

The program is expected to open up August 19, 2024. Between now and then, the Department of Homeland Security is expected to publish an official notice that explains the application process, along with additional guidance and requirements.

The notice will also explain what specific forms to file, the costs of filing those forms, the required documentation, and supporting evidence needed for approval.

Important:

USCIS will reject any filings received before the date when the application process is officially open.

Planning ahead? After parole in place, you may be eligible for a marriage-based green card. Learn how Boundless can simplify your Adjustment of Status application.

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Boundless can help you adjust your status after your Parole in Place is approved.

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