The policy will applies to all active-duty members of the armed forces, to reservists including the National Guard, and to all veterans. The spouses, children, and parents of qualifying individuals will be eligible for a “parole in place,” which means that they will be authorized to remain in the United States and many can proceed with applications for legal residency.
Undocumented immigrants generally have to leave the United States to collect a visa then reenter the United States to adjust status. However, under the new policy, those immigrants who are in military families will not have to leave the country to complete their visa applications.
Obama administration officials stated that this new policy was based on existing law and did not create any new legal status that would require action by Congress. Specifically, the policy is simply an extension of INA § 212(d)(5)(A), which gives the Secretary of Homeland Security the discretion, on a case-by-case basis, to “parole” for “urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit” an alien applying for admission to the United States. Although it is most frequently used to permit an alien who is outside the United States to come into U.S. territory, parole may also be granted to aliens who are already physically present in the U.S. without inspection or admission. This latter use of “parole” is what is known as “parole in place.”