On June 8, 2016, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began a program – the Filipino World War II Veterans Parole Program (FWVP) – that allows 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 to come to the United States while they wait for their immigrant visa to become available. Notice of this action is published in 81 Fed. Reg. 28097 (May 9, 2016).
An estimated 2,000 - 6,000 Filipino-American World War II veterans live 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. Certain eligible relatives also will be able to seek parole on their own behalf even when their Filipino World War II veteran and his or her spouse are both deceased.
With the exception of immediate relatives of U.S. citizens (for whom visas are immediately available), the number of family-sponsored immigrant visas available by country of origin for non-immediate relatives in any given year is limited. These limits result in long waiting periods before non-immediate 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.
Those who may request parole under the FWVP are individuals:
- who are the beneficiaries of Forms 1-130, Petition for Alien Relative
- whose qualifying relationship with the petitioning relative existed on or before May 9, 2016;
- whose petitioning relative is residing in the U.S. (or, if deceased, was residing in the U.S. at the time of death);
- whose immigrant visas are not authorized for issuance per the Application Final Action Dates chart for family-sponsored preference cases on the Department of State's Visa Bulletin; and
- whose petitioning relatives have established they are either Filipino World War II veterans or are the surviving spouses of such individuals.
The Filipino veteran’s qualifying World War II military service must have previously been recognized by the Department of Defense and must be described in § 405 of the Immigration Act of 1990, which requires an individual to fall within one of three categories:
- individuals who are listed on the final roster prepared by the recovered Personnel Division of the U.S. Army of those who served honorably in an active duty status with the Philippine Army during the World War II occupation and liberation of the Philippines;
- individuals who are listed on the final roster prepared by the Guerilla Affairs Division of the U.S. Army of those who received recognition as having served honorably in an active duty status within a recognized guerilla unit during the World War II occupation and liberation of the Philippines; or
- individuals who served honorably in an active duty status within the Philippine Scouts or within any other component of the U.S. Armed Forces in the Far East (other than a component described in clauses 1 or 2) at any time during the period beginning September 1, 1939, and ending December 31, 1946.
Under the FWVP, USCIS or the Department of State (DOS) will review each case individually and interview each applicant to determine whether authorizing parole is appropriate. If USCIS favorably exercises its discretion to issue parole under the FWVP policy, USCIS or DOS will issue the necessary travel documents to the beneficiary in the location he or she was interviewed.
Before the beneficiary’s parole expires, the beneficiary will be required to:
- seek re-parole;
- if eligible, apply to adjust status to that of lawful permanent resident or apply and be processed overseas for an immigrant visa; or
- depart the United States.