On May 9, 2016, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) formally announced that it will be begin the much deserved “Filipino World War II Veterans Parole” (FWVP) policy on June 8, 2016. The FWVP program help expedite the reunification of certain family members of Filipino WWII Veterans.
The parole program recognizes the “extraordinary contributions and sacrifices of Filipino veterans who fought for the United States during World War II.” Of the more than 260,000 Filipinos who fought for the US during WWII, there remains an estimated 2,000 to 6,000 Filipino American WWII veterans still alive in the US today. Many of these heroes, however, remain separated from their family members, who are unable to obtain visas to join them in the US due to the excessive visa backlogs. The program will allow certain family members to expeditiously obtain a temporary visa known as parole, which will “enhance the ability of such elderly veterans and their spouses to obtain care and support from their family members abroad.”
To submit an application for parole under the FWVP policy, an individual must fulfill the following requirements: 1) is a Beneficiary of an approved Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative (or is the spouse or unmarried child under age 21 of the Beneficiary); 2) the qualifying relationship with the petitioning relative must have existed on or before May 9, 2016; 3) the petitioning relative is residing in the US (or, if deceased, was residing in the US at the time of death); 4) the priority date on the approved Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative is not yet current; and 5) establish that the petitioning relative is either a Filipino WWII veteran or the surviving spouse of a Filipino WWII veteran.
Those who are considered to be a Filipino WWII veteran under the FWVP policy include those who served honorably in an active duty status with either the Philippine Army; a recognized guerilla unit; or within the Philippine Scouts or within any other component of the US Armed Forces in the Far East at any time during the period beginning September 1, 1939 to December 31, 1946.
As noted, individuals may still be eligible to apply for parole under the FWVP policy even if the Petitioner on the Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative has already passed away. However, before an individual can apply for parole, the policy requires that the Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative first be approved for reinstatement under the humanitarian reinstatement process.
The DHS will begin accepting applications for parole from individuals who meet these criteria beginning June 8, 2016. The application process will require submission of an Affidavit of Support for the applicant, as well as an interview at the US Embassy and possible biometrics.
If the parole is granted, it will allow the individual to enter the US to join their family member. Although not yet entirely clear, it appears that individuals entering the US under the FWVP program may be eligible to obtain work authorization after entering the US. Individuals will need to seek extensions of their parole to remain in the US, or apply for their green cards through either the adjustment of status process or at the US Embassy overseas once they become eligible.
The DHS announcement strongly encourages all qualified applicants to seek parole within five years of June 8, 2016. The DHS will evaluate the program after four years to determine whether to continue the program or phase it out after the five year period of time. The parole program is a significant recognition by the US government of the great contributions that Filipino WWII veterans and their families have provided. It is with great honor that such a program is finally being implemented so that Filipino WWII Veterans can finally be together with their loved ones once again.
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