Fil-Ams welcome new parole policy for Pinoy WWII veterans' kin
“Yesterday’s announcement from the Department of Homeland Security that family members of Filipino World War II veterans can now apply for parole visas and reunite with their parents here in the United States, is very heartening,” says NaFFAA National Chair JT Mallonga.
“Our courageous heroes, who have waited for up to 20 years, deserve the opportunity to be with their children. They must not suffer the pain of separation in the twilight of their years.”
Last year, President Obama used his executive authority by establishing a parole visa program to reunite Filipino WW11 veterans with their loved ones. Long visa backlogs, which have separated family members for decades, prompted the President to order an interagency task force to look into this matter.
But what spurred his action was a report issued by Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC) calling on President Obama to grant parole for children of Filipino War World II veterans.
The Department of Homeland Security, which will administer this program through the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), finally issued policy guidelines spelling out in detail who is eligible to apply. DHS will start accepting applications in June.
“We thank Sen. Mazie Hirono for pushing the Obama Administration to quickly implement this program and make children eligible for expedited consideration to come to the United States,” adds Mallonga.
“We also appreciate the hard work of advocacy groups, like AAJC, the Filipino Veterans Equity Center (FVEC) and the Filipinos for Justice. Their diligence and persistence made it possible to move this policy forward so our veterans and their families can be with each other without further delay.”
Meanwhile, beginning June 8, 2016, US Citizenship and Immigration Services will allow certain Filipino World War II veteran family members who are beneficiaries of approved family-based immigrant visa petitions an opportunity to receive a discretionary grant of parole on a case-by-case basis, so that they may come to the United States as they wait for their immigrant visa to become available.
This parole policy was announced in the White House report, Modernizing and Streamlining Our Legal Immigration System for the 21st Century, issued in July 2015. An estimated 2,000 to 6,000 Filipino-American World War II veterans are living in the United States today. Among other things, this policy will enable many eligible individuals to provide support and care to their aging veteran family members who are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents.
“The Filipino World War II Veterans Parole Program honors the thousands of Filipinos who bravely enlisted to fight for the United States during World War II,” USCIS Director León Rodríguez said.
“This policy will allow certain Filipino-American family members awaiting immigrant-visa issuance to come to the United States and be with their loved ones. For many, it will also allow them to provide support and care for elderly veterans or their surviving spouses.”
With the exception of immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, the number of family-sponsored immigrant visas available by country of origin in any given year is limited by statute. These limits result in long waiting periods before family members may join petitioning U.S. citizens or permanent residents in the United States and become permanent residents themselves. For some Filipino-American families, this wait can exceed 20 years.
Under the policy, certain family members of Filipino World War II veterans may be eligible to receive a discretionary grant of parole to come to the United States before their visa becomes available. In limited cases, certain eligible relatives will be able to seek parole on their own behalf when their Filipino World War II veteran and his or her spouse are both deceased.
Under the Filipino World War II Veterans Parole Program, USCIS will review each case individually to determine whether authorizing parole is appropriate. When each individual arrives at a U.S. port of entry, U.S. Customs and Border Protection will also review each case to determine whether to parole the individual.
Legal authority for this parole policy comes from the Immigration and Nationality Act, which authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security to parole into the United States certain individuals, on a case-by-case basis, for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.
Additional information about the Filipino World War II Veterans Parole Program—including guidance on eligibility, the application process and where to file—is available in the revised Form I-131 instructions and the Federal Register notice published today. We will not accept applications under this policy until June 8, 2016. USCIS strongly encourages eligible individuals interested in requesting parole under the FWVP Program do so within 5 years from June 8, 2016