Parole visas for families of Pinoy WWII veterans explained
The Philippine Consulate hosted on August 27 a town hall forum on Parole Visas for Filipino World War II veterans and their Families, which sought to explain how they can avail of the parole visa program.
This Veteran Family Parole Visa program was first announced in the White House report “Modernizing and Streamlining our Legal Immigration System for the 21st Century” issued in July 2015. There is an estimated 2,000 to 6,000 Filipino-American veterans who are living in the United States today. This policy will enable eligible individuals to provide support and care to aging veteran family members who are US citizens or green card holders.
Shyconia Burden, Community Relations Officer for the New York City district office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said the USCIS has started to allow certain family members an opportunity to receive a discretionary grant of parole on an individual case basis, so that they may come to the United States as they wait for their immigrant visa to become available. In limited cases, certain eligible relatives will be able to seek parole on their own behalf when the veteran and his or her spouse are both deceased, she added.
Guest speaker Shyconia Burden of USCIS receives a Certificate of Appreciation from the FilAm community. The FilAm photo
The USCIS will review each case individually to determine whether authorizing parole is appropriate, on a case-by-case basis, for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit, she emphasized.
White House report explained the need for a parole visa program for Filipino veterans. It said: “Since their first documented arrival in Morro Bay, California in October 1587, Filipino Americans have made remarkable contributions to every sector of American life, including in the private sector and through government and military service.
“In 1941, more than 260,000 Filipino soldiers responded to President Roosevelt’s call-to-arms and later fought under the American flag during World War II. Many made the ultimate sacrifice as soldiers in the U.S. Armed Forces in the Far East and as guerilla fighters during the Imperial Japanese occupation of the Philippines. Estimates indicate that as many as 26,000 of these brave individuals became proud U.S. citizens.
“As U.S. citizens, these individuals can petition for their family members to come to the United States. Unfortunately, due to statutory visa caps, many individuals wait for years or even decades to be reunited with their family members. For Filipino American families, this wait can exceed 20 years.
“Parole is an avenue…that allows individuals to come to the United States on a case-by-case basis for a temporary period of time based upon urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit. There is precedent for establishing parole programs to reunite certain classes of family members, such as the Cuban Family Reunification Parole Program and most recently, the Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program.
“Based upon the circumstances of Filipino American veterans, we make the following recommendation: Allow certain family members of Filipino veterans to seek parole. DHS will create a parole program to allow certain family members of Filipino-American veterans to request parole to come to the United States to provide support and care to their Filipino veteran family members who are U.S. citizens or LPRs.”
Deputy Consul General Kira Azucena hailed the implementation of the program as an important milestone in the nationwide Filipino-American community’s ongoing campaign in lobbying the U.S. government to grant Filipino veterans the honor and recognition due to them. She noted the timeliness of the newly enacted policy.
“The year 2016 marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and the United States,” she said.
She also expressed confidence that the program would reunite many veterans with their families in the Philippines. —The FilAm