WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 9, 2016) — Beginning June 8, 2016, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will allow 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 on a case-by-case basis, so that they may come to the United States as they wait for their immigrant visa to become available.
This parole policy was announced in the White House report, Modernizing and Streamlining Our Legal Immigration System for the 21st Century, issued in July 2015. An estimated 2,000 to 6,000 Filipino-American World War II veterans are living 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.
“The Filipino World War II Veterans Parole Program honors the thousands of Filipinos who bravely enlisted to fight for the United States during World War II,” USCIS Director León Rodríguez said. “This policy will allow certain Filipino-American family members awaiting immigrant-visa issuance to come to the United States and be with their loved ones. For many, it will also allow them to provide support and care for elderly veterans or their surviving spouses.”
With the exception of immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, the number of family-sponsored immigrant visas available by country of origin in any given year is limited by statute. These limits result in long waiting periods before 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.
Under the policy, certain family members of Filipino World War II veterans may be eligible to receive a discretionary grant of parole to come to the United States before their visa becomes available. In limited cases, certain eligible relatives will be able to seek parole on their own behalf when their Filipino World War II veteran and his or her spouse are both deceased.
Under the Filipino World War II Veterans Parole Program, USCIS will review each case individually to determine whether authorizing parole is appropriate. When each individual arrives at a U.S. port of entry, U.S. Customs and Border Protection will also review each case to determine whether to parole the individual.
Legal authority for this parole policy comes from the Immigration and Nationality Act, which authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security to parole into the United States certain individuals, on a case-by-case basis, for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.
Additional information about the Filipino World War II Veterans Parole Program—including guidance on eligibility, the application process and where to file—is available in the revised Form I-131 instructions and theFederal Register notice published today. We will not accept applications under this policy until June 8, 2016. USCIS strongly encourages eligible individuals interested in requesting parole under the FWVP Program do so within 5 years from June 8, 2016.
CAPAC Applauds Filipino World War II Veterans Parole Program
Washington, DC – Today, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced the implementation of the Filipino World War II Veterans Parole (FWVP) program that will offer certain beneficiaries an opportunity to seek parole and come to the United States to be reunited with their family members. Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) released the following statements:
Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27), CAPAC Chair:
“I am thrilled by today’s announcement of the Filipino World War II Veterans Parole policy that CAPAC fought hard to include in President Obama’s immigration executive actions. Many Filipino veterans who bravely served our country during World War II are in their twilight years, some with no one to take care of them here in the United States. But thanks to President Obama’s actions, these veterans and their spouses will finally be able to reunite with their loved ones, and to be cared for in their old age by family members from abroad. As Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, I thank President Obama for his leadership in recognizing the valiant contributions and sacrifices of our Filipino veterans. I look forward to working with the Administration to ensure that this program is known widely and implemented effectively.”
Senator Harry Reid (NV), Senate Democratic Leader:
“Today is a victory for Filipino-American communities across the country. After facing decades of injustice and separation from their loved ones, courageous Filipino veterans in Nevada and throughout the country finally have the opportunity to reunite with their families. These brave veterans have made incredible sacrifices for our country, and I have spent years fighting to ensure that the United States does everything possible to repay that great debt. Today’s victory is the culmination of years of hard work and advocacy on behalf of a group of people who have endured decades of false promises and denied benefits. I proudly represent more than 100,000 Filipino-Americans living in Nevada, and I know how much they contribute to our country. I thank the Obama Administration for working with us to get this done and ensuring that surviving Filipino veterans have the opportunity to be cared for by their family members as they age.”
Senator Mazie Hirono (HI):
“President Obama has taken an important action for Filipino WWII veterans who have been waiting patiently for decades to be reunited with their families. Filipino World War II veterans and their spouses, who are in their eighties or nineties, will finally be able to apply to bring their adult children to the United States. I have heard from so many of these veterans in Hawaii and across the country who simply want family reunification. We will now have a concrete path for making that a reality. I will continue working with Filipino organizations and advocacy groups in Hawaii to ensure eligible veterans receive the necessary information and assistance with their applications so they can be with their spouses and children.”
Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo (GU), CAPAC Vice Chair:
“I commend President Obama for taking action to enable Filipino World War II veterans to reunite with their loved ones and be cared for in their old age. The Filipino World War II veterans fought valiantly under the U.S. Flag during World War II. Now in the twilight of their years, many have had to choose between living in the Philippines in the care of their loved ones but without the full benefits afforded to veterans, or living in the U.S. far from their loved ones. The Filipino World War II Veterans Program will ensure that these veterans do not have to make this difficult choice. I thank President Obama for his continued leadership for our Filipino veterans, and I look forward to the full implementation of this program.”
Congressman Mike Honda (CA-17), CAPAC Chair Emeritus:
“I am glad USCIS will be providing overseas family members of Filipino World War II veterans the opportunity to live temporarily in the U.S., through humanitarian parole. Filipino veterans fought alongside American troops during WWII. They deserve our utmost recognition and gratitude for their service. We owe it to those veterans, as a nation, to allow them to have their family beside them for comfort and care. As USCIS implements this program, I hope they will work with the community to ensure that everyone who is eligible for the program is able to apply, so that these veterans can be reunified with their loved ones as quickly as possible.”
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02):
“More than 200,000 Filipino and Filipino-American soldiers fought alongside U.S. forces during WWII. These loyal and courageous soldiers suffered, fought, and sacrificed alongside their American counterparts throughout the war. Yet decades later, these veterans and their families in Hawaiʻi and across the country are still waiting to be reunited with their loved ones. Many of the veterans I’ve talked with have waited 20 years or more for a brother, sister, or other family member to go through the immigration application process. Now in their late 80s or older, they cannot afford to wait any longer. This program recognizes and honors the service of our Filipino WWII Veterans, and allows them and their families to be together while their immigration applications are processed.”
Congressman Mark Takai (HI-01):
“It is our responsibility to take care of those who fought for our country. We owe a debt of gratitude to all veterans, especially the thousands of Filipino American World War II veterans who are still alive and are fighting to be reunited with their families. Today’s announcement is a significant step forward in ensuring that we honor the promises that we have made to our veterans. We must fulfill our obligation to our Filipino servicemembers who fought with Americans in the Pacific throughout World War II. I am grateful that the Administration is taking this step to put into action the intent behind the Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Act that I introduced this Congress.”
The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) is comprised of Members of Congress of Asian and Pacific Islander descent and Members who have a strong dedication to promoting the well-being of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Currently chaired by Congresswoman Judy Chu, CAPAC has been addressing the needs of the AAPI community in all areas of American life since it was founded in 1994.
Details of Filipino World War II Veterans Parole Policy Announced
WASHINGTON – Today, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published details about a new policy that will enable family members of Filipino World War II veterans to apply to come to the United States while waiting the issuance of their visas, many of which have been backlogged for decades. This policy change is in recognition of “the extraordinary contributions and sacrifices of Filipino veterans who fought for the United States during World War II.”
“Advancing Justice | AAJC is proud to have played a leading role in the advocacy effort that resulted in this long-awaited relief for Filipino World War II veterans and their families,” said Mee Moua, president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice. “This action is long overdue.”
This policy change is a victory for our veterans, the youngest of whom are in their late 80s, who can look forward to being reunited with family members who have been waiting for decades to immigrate to the United States.
The parole policy also covers veterans’ surviving spouses who petition for their adult children to join them in the U.S. Furthermore, family members may be able to seek reinstatement of immigration petitions filed through veterans who are now deceased, and then self-petition for parole.
Moua continued, “Even as we celebrate this victory and rejoice that our veterans will finally reunite with their loved ones, we recognize there are many in the Asian American and Pacific Islander community who remain separated from their family members. Advancing Justice | AAJC advocates for reforms to the immigration system so that immigrants will not have to endure decades-long backlogs as they await reunification with their loved ones.”
Advancing Justice | AAJC will continue to work with the Obama Administration and fellow advocates to reach out to the Filipino American community and their relatives in the Philippines with information about the program. In addition, the organization looks forward to supporting outreach efforts and expedient implementation of the program.
USCIS will accept requests for parole starting on June 8, 2016.