Humanitarian Parole, Explained
Learn about humanitarian parole and who’s eligible to apply
What is Humanitarian Parole?
Humanitarian Parole is a discretionary grant of temporary permission to enter the United States for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit. It allows individuals who are otherwise inadmissible to the U.S. to enter the country for a limited period of time due to urgent humanitarian reasons, such as a medical emergency or urgent family situation.
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U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is responsible for granting humanitarian parole to individuals who have compelling reasons for entering the U.S. on a temporary basis, but who do not qualify for a visa or other immigration benefits.
The U.S. government has broad discretionary power to interpret who is eligible for humanitarian parole. Although each case may vary, USCIS has indicated three important factors that it includes in its deliberations:
- The level of suffering experienced if parole is not granted
- The time pressure
- The effect a rejection might have on the applicant’s well being
A petitioner’s situation may be deemed urgent if it involves a strict timeline — for instance, if the petitioner is in dire need of medical treatment or if they have a family member who is nearing the end of their life. Therefore, examples of situations where humanitarian parole may be granted include providing urgent medical care, attending a funeral or visiting a critically ill relative, or assisting in a national disaster relief effort.
In addition to the eligibility requirements mentioned above, there are several country-specific humanitarian parole programs which we’ll discuss below.
In addition to the general humanitarian parole process, there are several humanitarian parole programs for nationals from specific countries:
USCIS’ new program, “Uniting for Ukraine,” offers Ukrainian nationals and their immediate family members an opportunity to enter the United States and remain there temporarily on parole for a two-year period. To qualify for parole, Ukrainian nationals must have a sponsor in the U.S. who is willing to provide financial support for them throughout their stay in the country.
You can learn more about the program on USCIS’ official website.
USCIS also provides specific guidelines for Afghan nationals seeking humanitarian parole. The application and approval process may differ depending on whether the applicant is in Afghanistan or outside of the country. More information on humanitarian parole for Afghan nationals can be found on USCIS’ detailed page here.
Processes for Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans
The Biden administration recently launched a new humanitarian parole program aimed at migrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela who are experiencing dangerous conditions, violence, or severe economic hardship in their home countries. This policy offers an alternative pathway for eligible migrants from these specific nations.
The program allows eligible individuals to apply for U.S. travel authorization at U.S. Embassies or consulates without having to leave their home countries. Upon approval, they can enter the U.S. on parole status and legally reside and work in the country for up to two years. However, eligible applicants must find a financial sponsor in the U.S. and meet certain criteria, such as being at risk of serious harm in their home country. More information can be found here.
PROCESS UPDATE (May 2023):
Due to a high volume of applications, USCIS recently updated their review process for submissions under this program. USCIS will now randomly select half of the total applications submitted (regardless of filing date), from the entire pending backlog for review. The agency will then review the other half of the monthly total of applications based on filing date, which prioritizes the oldest applications for review. Under this new review system, processing times will vary.
The Cuban Family Reunification Parole Program
The Cuban Family Reunification Parole (CFRP) program allows certain eligible family members of Cuban nationals to come to the U.S. under humanitarian parole.
The CFRP program is intended to expedite the process of family reunification for Cubans who have been separated from their families due to immigration restrictions. The program was first established in 2007, and it has since been expanded to include additional categories of eligible family members. The CFRP program has its own eligibility requirements and application process, which you can learn more about here.
How to Apply
To apply for U.S. humanitarian parole, you must file two forms (namely Form I-131 and Form I-134), gather the required supporting documents, and pay a filing fee directly to USCIS. Here are the general steps to apply for humanitarian parole in more detail:
- Complete Form I-131 (Application for Travel Document): This form is used to apply for humanitarian parole. Make sure to provide accurate and complete information, including the reason for the request and any supporting documents.
- Complete Form I-134 (Declaration of Financial Support): This form is used to demonstrate that the humanitarian parole applicant is able to financially support themselves during their stay in the U.S. The applicant can also enlist a financial sponsor to file Form I-134 on their behalf. NOTE: For those applying through a country-specific program, financial sponsors must file Form I-134A instead (officially known as the “Online Request to be a Supporter and Declaration of Financial Support”).
- Gather Supporting Documents: Depending on the reason for your humanitarian parole request, you may need to submit supporting documents such as medical reports, death certificates, or proof of family relationship. Make sure to provide clear and complete documentation to support your request. For Form I-134 and Form I-134A, specific financial documents, such as proof of financial assets and tax information, may be required as well.
- Pay the Filing Fee: Applicants must pay a $575 fee to file Form I-131 for humanitarian parole. There is currently no application fee for Form I-134.
- File Your Application: Once you have completed the forms and gathered all the necessary documents, you should submit your application to the appropriate USCIS office. USCIS will review your application and may request additional information or documentation if needed.
It’s important to note that applying for humanitarian parole does not guarantee approval, and USCIS has broad discretion in deciding whether to grant it. Therefore, it’s important to provide as much information and documentation as possible to support your request.
Humanitarian Parole FAQs
The Humanitarian Affairs Branch (HAB) of USCIS typically evaluates parole requests within 90 days of receiving them. However, if additional information is required, the processing time will be longer. Due to a significantly high volume of requests for parole, USCIS is currently experiencing delays in processing times, and it is possible that processing times may exceed the standard 90-day period.
Once approved, the length of one’s humanitarian parole is determined on a case-by-case basis and depends on the specific circumstances that led to the parole approval. Generally, humanitarian parole is granted for a limited period of time that is necessary to address the urgent humanitarian need or significant public benefit that was the basis for approval.
Humanitarian parole is typically granted for up to one year, but varies for each case. The duration of humanitarian parole will be specified in the USCIS approval notice and on the travel document that is issued to the applicant.
It’s important to note that humanitarian parole is temporary. Once the period of humanitarian parole expires, the individual must leave the U.S. unless they are able to obtain another lawful immigration status or an extension of their parole.
It’s important to note that humanitarian parole is not a visa, nor is it a substitute for a visa. It’s a temporary solution for individuals who need to enter the U.S. for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit, but who do not qualify for a visa or other immigration benefits. The grant of humanitarian parole typically does not confer any immigration status or provide a pathway to permanent residency or citizenship.
If a humanitarian parole recipient is able to apply for a different visa type to remain in the U.S., such as a work visa, it may be possible to adjust status to permanent residency in the future. If the recipient has an immediate family member who is a U.S. citizen or green card holder (for example a spouse), it may be possible to apply for a family-based green card.
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is a form of humanitarian relief granted to foreign nationals who are unable to return home due to certain circumstances in their home countries. TPS is typically designated to countries experiencing ongoing armed conflicts, environmental disasters, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions that prevent people from safely returning home.
TPS recipients are permitted to live and work in the U.S. for a temporary period of time, designated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). TPS status may be extended or terminated by the DHS depending on the situation in the individual’s home country.
Similar to humanitarian parole, TPS is not a path to permanent residency or citizenship, but does provide temporary protection from deportation. Unlike humanitarian parole, TPS also offers the ability to work legally in the U.S. during the designated period.
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