Good news to the Filipino veterans of World War II! They don’t have to wait very long before being reunited with their loved ones as the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced that it will grant parole to the beneficiaries of approved family-based immigrant visa petition and allow them to stay in the US while awaiting their immigrant visa numbers.
Due to the active lobbying of advocacy groups like the Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC), the Filipino Veterans Equity Center and Filipinos for Justice, President Barack Obama announced the parole visa program last year but it was only this month that the USCIS released a policy guideline for its implementation.
This program called Filipino World War II Veterans Parole Policy (FWVP) will benefit approximately 2,000 to 6,000 Filipino-American World War II veterans who are living here in the US.
The said program was created in recognition of the significant contribution of the Filipino veterans during World War II. According to the policy announcement, more than 260,000 Filipino soldiers enlisted to fight for the US during the war. This is also an acknowledgment that these veterans and their surviving spouses are in need of the support and care that can only be given by their family members especially at their advanced age.
Those who may benefit from FWVP are individuals who are beneficiaries of approved I-130 Petition for Alien Relative, including any accompanying or following-to-join spouse and children who were approved on or before the start of the filing date of the parole request. The qualifying relationship with the veteran or petitioning relative must have existed on or before May 9, 2016 and the veteran or petitioning relative is residing in the US or in the case of deceased petitioners, was residing in the US at the time of death.
It is also important to establish the Filipino veteran’s World War II military service. The policy provides that the said military service must have been previously recognized by the US Department of Defense and must have been described in Section 405 of the Immigration Act of 1990 (IMMACT ’90).
The said act requires the veterans to fall within the following categories: (1) Those listed on the final roster prepared by the Personnel Division of the US Army as having served honorably in an active duty status with the Philippine Army during the war; (2) those listed on the final roster prepared by the Guerilla Affairs Division of the US Army as having served honorably in an active duty status within a recognized guerilla unit; (3) those who served honorably in an active duty within the Philippine Scouts or within any component of the US Armed Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) from September 1, 1939 to December 31, 1946.
When any proof of such military service is not included in the visa parole application, the USCIS will send a Request for Evidence (RFE).
As to who are eligible for visa parole depends on who the petitioner is. If the veteran is the petitioner himself, beneficiaries could be any one who falls in any family-sponsored preference category, except those considered as immediate relatives - spouse, parents and unmarried children under 21 years of age - because visa numbers are always readily available to them anyway. If the petitioner is the surviving spouse of the war veteran, beneficiaries could only be their children.
In cases where the petitioning relative dies before a visa number becomes available to his beneficiaries, eligible individuals may seek parole in their behalf in cases where USCIS has approved the reinstatement of an I-130 petition for humanitarian purposes.
(Editor’s Note: REUBEN S. SEGURITAN has been practicing law for over 30 years. For more information, log on to www.seguritan.com or call 212-695-5281)