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Humanitarian parole is not exactly a hot-button topic of discussion amongst immigration practitioners. What is it about? This form of relief permits an inadmissible individual to visit the United States due to humanitarian reasons and/or for substantial public benefit.

While anyone can file for humanitarian parole, a foreign national must have exhausted all other visa avenues to be eligible for parole unless there is a dire emergency or it is impractical. Typically, humanitarian parole may be granted when:

  1. A child under 16 needs to be reunified with relatives;
  2. There is an urgent need for medical care that the foreign national cannot secure in the home country;
  3. A foreign national has to attend a civil or criminal proceeding;
  4. A foreign national needs to visit a dying family member; and,
  5. There is a dire emergency.

Also, the beneficiary of the petition must be residing outside the United States. The parole is granted for the duration of the emergency and is temporary. A foreign national may adjust status to a permanent resident (e.g., parolee secures asylum, parolee is a beneficiary of a relative petition) while in the United States. It is important to note that parole does not mean admission to the United States and does not grant any benefits. If the maximum parole period of 1 year expires without a re-parole, the foreign national has to leave the United States.


Immigration and Customs Enforcement (hereafter ICE), United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (hereafter USCIS), and Customs and Border Protection (hereafter CBP) all have concurrent authority to parole individuals. ICE can authorize parole of foreign nationals outside the United States for law enforcement matters. USCIS (HAB) can parole a foreign national outside the United States for humanitarian and other purposes. CBP can grant parole at United States ports of entry.


Some key factors considered during the adjudication of the application are identified below.

In family reunification cases, the following are considered:

  • Have all immigration visa avenues been exhausted? Parole is not granted if an applicant is attempting to by-pass the routine visa process;
  • Proof of bona fide relationship between the relative (within the United States) and the applicant;

In medical cases, the following are considered:

  • The severity of the medical condition;
  • The lack of availability of such medical treatment in the applicant’s home country;
  • A medical determination of the need for immediate medical treatment;
  • Sufficient documentation to support the medical claim; and
  • The ability to pay for the medical procedure (via insurance or otherwise) and the ability to have a paid ticket to return from the United States.

In emergency cases, the following are considered:

  • Sufficient medical documentation to support the claim that a relative is on their death bed;
  • Proof of bona fide relationship; and
  • Proof that there is no other relative in the United States who can assist with estate matters.

Also, the parole is not likely to be granted if it is obvious that the parolee has intentions of staying longer than the allowed parole. Hence, when deciding whether humanitarian parole is a form of relief that could be utilized, it is vital to examine whether there is an emergency and in a majority of cases whether all other visa options have been exhausted.


To start the process, Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, a non-refundable $305 (there is no fee waiver), and a comprehensive statement of facts should accompany the application package. In addition, the identification of the applicant (i.e. passport) and immigration status of the petitioner based in the United States should also be given. Any documents that support the various criteria (birth/marriage/death certificates) for the type of parole requested should be part of the submission.

Form I-134 (Affidavit of Support) also needs to be provided along with income tax returns for the prior two years, current employment information, insurance coverage (applicable to medical cases), and the immigration status of the sponsor if not the same as the petitioner. A parolee may ask for a re-parole 90 days before its expiration. To re-parole a new application (along with the fees and Affidavit of Support) would need to be filed along with a copy of the I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record) issued at parole time. If parole is not granted, then there is no appeal relief. However, a new application that demonstrates substantial change in circumstances may be filed.


According to the USCIS, twenty-five percent of twelve hundred or so applications are granted annually and they are not liberally granted. However, this should not be a dissuasive factor. As in every area of the law, the envelope is yet to be pushed here. The question is whether practitioners are aware of this relief and are examining its applicability to their cases. When doing consults (intakes), do practitioners check to see if this form of relief is applicable? Is this form of relief on their intake checklist? Awareness about this form of relief is key. As practitioners are informed and more viable applications are filed, it could prompt an evolution of case law in this area.

Copyright © 2015, American Immigration Lawyers Association. Reprinted, with permission, from AILA’s New Member Division Newsletter (April 2015).