On May 9, 2016, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the new parole program for family members of Filipino World War II Veterans. More than 260,000 Filipino soldiers enlisted to fight for the United States in World War II. About 26,000 of them were allowed to move to the United States and eventually became U.S. Citizens. However, for many of them, moving to the United States meant leaving their children and other family members behind.
As U.S. Citizens or green card holders, these veterans were eligible to petition their family members to join them in the United States. However, given the long backlog for visa petitions, the waiting time for the families to be reunited could sometimes take as long as 11 years for their adult sons and daughters and 23 years for their brothers and sisters. Many petitioners passed away even before their relatives could immigrate to the United States.
In recognition of the contributions of these veterans, the Filipino World War II Veterans Parole Program (FWVP) was announced earlier this year to alleviate the long wait times for family petitions. The application process began on June 8, 2016. Under this parole program, the relatives of the Filipino veterans could be allowed to be admitted into the United States and live here while they are waiting for their priority dates to become current. Once an immigrant visa becomes available for them, they can then apply to adjust their immigration status to permanent resident and get their green card while they are already in the country. There are an estimated 2,000 to 6,000 Filipino World War II veterans who are still living in the U.S. and waiting to be reunited with their family members. Parole can also be available to beneficiaries who are currently in the United States and who may have overstayed their visas. However, they will need to leave the country and be interviewed abroad by a USCIS or Department of State officer in order to be issued travel documents to come back to the U.S.
To qualify under this program, the veteran must fall under the following list which was prepared by the personnel division of the United States Army:
- Served honorably in an active duty status within the Philippine Army during the World War II occupation and liberation of the Philippines;
- Served honorably in an active duty status within a recognized guerrilla unit; or
- Served honorably in an active duty status within the Philippine scouts or any other component of the United States Armed Forces in the Far East at any time during the period beginning September 1, 1939 and ending December 31, 1946.
The U.S. citizen veteran or the veteran’s spouse must have already filed Form I-130 for the family member in order for them to request parole. These relatives must be their adult sons and daughters or brothers and sisters. Spouses and minor children under 21 of the veteran or the veteran’s spouse do not qualify under the parole program because they are considered “immediate relatives” for whom immigrant visas are readily available. To apply for parole, they must file Form I-131 and pay the $360 filing fee for each beneficiary. For more information, contact the Asian Law Alliance or go to https://www.uscis.gov/fwvp