Humanitarian Law

Humanitarian Parole

People are living in dangerous situations all over the world. They may not qualify as refugees, asylum seekers, or other ways to legally get to the United States for safety. There is another program that allows people to travel to the U.S. based on urgent humanitarian reasons or for significant public benefit.

The humanitarian parole program allows some foreign residents to come to the U.S. when they don’t otherwise qualify for an immigrant visa. However, humanitarian parole is limited to certain situations.

Eligibility for humanitarian parole and U.S. immigration law is complicated. An immigration attorney who handles humanitarian parole cases can help you understand if you might qualify and how to apply to come to the U.S. for humanitarian reasons.

What Is Humanitarian Parole and Who Is Eligible?

According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), humanitarian parole is for certain individuals who might not otherwise be able to come to the U.S. Parole allows entry into the country for a temporary period based on providing a benefit to the public or for humanitarian reasons.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has country-specific humanitarian parole programs for people from certain countries, including Afghanistan, Haiti, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba. These may be temporary programs during times of natural disasters or extreme violence, like the earthquake in Haiti or the war in Ukraine.

Parole is intended to be temporary, for a limited period, or until the situation in the person’s home country improves. Some people granted humanitarian parole are also approved for temporary employment authorization, but this is not guaranteed for everyone. You must show that you have someone who will financially support you while you are in the U.S.

In most cases, humanitarian parole is for people who are living outside the U.S. to get a travel document to enter the country. However, you may also be able to apply through U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement if you are in facing deportation and removal from the U.S. To qualify for humanitarian parole, you have to show there is a compelling emergency and either an urgent humanitarian reason or a significant public benefit to you entering the U.S.

There is no strict definition of “humanitarian reason” or “public benefit.” Types of humanitarian reasons may include needing critical medical treatment or supporting a family member at the end of their life. USCIS will review each application on a case-by-case basis. Factors in determining your eligibility will include if:

  • You have plans to leave the United States when your parole expires
  • There are other ways to get lawful immigration status during the parole
  • You have any plans to reapply for parole
  • There are any national security concerns
  • You have a criminal record or previous immigration violations, or there is evidence of fraud with your application
  • You pose any benefits to U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents
  • You have sufficient financial support

How Do I Apply for Parole?

To apply for humanitarian parole, complete Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, and any filing fees or fee waiver requests. You have to submit all supporting documentation. You will also have to complete Form I-134, Affidavit of Support, to show that there is someone in the U.S. who will provide financial support while you are in the country.

The application process can take 90 days or more. The U.S. government is reporting a backlog in humanitarian parole applications and delays in the parole process.

You may be able to get conditional approval and then schedule an appointment with the U.S. embassy and provide biometric information like fingerprints. After a background check, you can get travel approval to come to the U.S. At the port of entry, a Customs and Border Protection officer can authorize you for parole.

How Long Can I Stay in the U.S. With Parole?

The parole period depends on your individual situation, based on the humanitarian needs of the individual and the situation in your home country. In many cases, humanitarian parole is granted for a year. After the end of parole, you may have to leave the country, try to extend parole, or find another way to stay in the U.S. The U.S. government can terminate your parole at any time.

Work With an Immigration Attorney

If you have questions about your eligibility for humanitarian parole, there are immigration attorneys all across the U.S. who can help people in situations like yours. There are also legal aid groups dedicated to working with people trying to enter the U.S.

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