Humanitarian or Significant Public Benefit Parole for Individuals Outside the United States

Both the special parole policy for arriving Cuban nationals, commonly known as the “wet foot/dry foot” policy, and the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program expired on January 12, 2017. Read the announcement on the DHS website. The Cuban Family Reunification Parole Program remains in effect.

Individuals who are outside of the United States may be able to request parole into the United States based on humanitarian or significant public benefit reasons.

For information on the types of documents and evidence you should submit in support of a request for parole, please see our page: Guidance on Evidence for Certain Types of Humanitarian or Significant Public Benefit Parole Requests.

This webpage does not cover the following types of parole requests:

Terminology

The following terms are used on this page:

  • Petitioner: The person completing the Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, on behalf of an individual outside the United States who is seeking parole (or re-parole as explained below). The term “self-petitioner” refers to an individual who files Form I-131, Application for Travel Document for him or herself.
  • Beneficiary: A beneficiary is an individual, residing outside the United States (or a person seeking re-parole as explained below) who receives parole.
  • Sponsor: A sponsor is an individual who agrees to provide financial support for the beneficiary of a parole application by filing Form I-134, Affidavit of Support (PDF, 480 KB).
  • Parolee: A parolee is an individual who is paroled into the United States.

What is Parole?

USCIS uses its discretion to authorize parole. Parole allows an individual, who may be inadmissible or otherwise ineligible for admission into the United States, to be paroled into the United States for a temporary period. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) allows the secretary of Homeland Security to use their discretion to parole any foreign national applying for admission into the United States temporarily for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit. (See INA section 212(d)(5)).

An individual who is paroled into the U.S. has not been formally admitted into the United States for purposes of immigration law.

Parole is not intended to be used solely to avoid normal visa processing procedures and timelines, to bypass inadmissibility waiver processing, or to replace established refugee processing channels.

Length of Parole

If authorized, we will specify the duration of parole for a temporary period of time to accomplish the purpose of the parole, as indicated in Part 3 of Form I-131, Application for Travel Document. For example, if parole is requested to attend a civil court proceeding between private parties, we may authorize parole for the period of time necessary to attend the proceedings. Parole is typically granted for no more than a year.

Parole ends on the date the parole period expires or when the beneficiary departs the United States or acquires an immigration status, whichever occurs first. In some cases, we may place conditions on parole, such as reporting requirements. We may revoke parole at any time and without notice if it determines that parole is no longer warranted or the beneficiary fails to comply with any conditions of parole.

Work Permits

If not inconsistent with the purpose and duration of parole, we may, in our discretion, grant a parolee temporary employment authorization. The parolee may request employment authorization after being paroled into the United States by filing Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.

Who Can Apply for Parole?

Anyone may request parole for himself or herself, or on behalf of another individual, by filing Form I-131, Application for Travel Document. The petitioner is an individual or entity who is filing the Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, on behalf of an individual outside of the United States. The petitioner may also self-petition for parole. The petitioner does not have to be a resident of the United States or related to the beneficiary.

The Need for a Sponsor

One important factor we consider in determining whether to exercise discretion to authorize parole is whether the beneficiary will have a means of support while in the United States. We require evidence of a sponsor to provide financial support to the parolee in the United States. Lack of evidence of financial support while in the United States is a strong negative factor that may lead to a denial of parole. We will take into account the Health and Human Services Federal poverty guidelines along with any special circumstances related to the beneficiary’s need for care in assessing whether there are sufficient funds in place to adequately support the beneficiary once in the United States.

Requirements for Sponsors

The sponsor is the individual who agrees to provide financial support to the beneficiary while they are in the United States for the duration of the parole authorization period. The financial sponsor may or may not be the same person or entity as the petitioner. The sponsor must submit a Form I-134, Affidavit of Support (PDF, 480 KB) for each parole request to establish whether they have enough financial resources to support the parolee during their stay in the United States, and if the funds are overseas, access to those funds for the parolee’s stay in the United States.

Though there is no requirement regarding the sponsor’s immigration status in the United States, a sponsor who has a more permanent status in the United States, such as lawful permanent residence or is a U.S. citizen, may more readily be able to establish the ability to support the parolee in the United States. Evidence of the sponsor’s immigration status or citizenship in the United States may be relevant to the sponsor’s ability to support the beneficiary. Therefore, the petitioner should generally include evidence of the sponsor’s immigration status or citizenship in the United States, such as the sponsor’s permanent residence card, naturalization certificate, birth certificate or passport with the parole request.

It is important to read the Form I-134 instructions (PDF, 199 KB) carefully for information about what kind of evidence is required to demonstrate sufficient income and financial resources.  Some examples of evidence that is helpful in demonstrating financial resources include pay stubs, last filed tax return or a letter from a sponsor’s employer.

Multiple Sponsors

When determining a sponsor, the petitioner must take into account the Health and Human Services Federal poverty guidelines, and any special needs of the beneficiary. If the petitioner is unable to identify a sponsor who alone has sufficient means to support the beneficiary in the United States, the petitioner may indicate more than one sponsor if they have the means and agree to support the beneficiary while paroled in the United States. In this situation, the petitioner must submit a Form I-134, Affidavit of Support (PDF, 480 KB), along with the proper supporting documentation, from each sponsor.

Self-Sponsor

A beneficiary may also demonstrate that he or she is financially self-sufficient by submitting a Form I-134, Affidavit of Support (PDF, 480 KB), with supporting financial documentation.

Organization as a Sponsor

Occasionally, a non-profit organization or medical institution may serve as a sponsor on a parole application. In those instances, if an employee of the organization cannot complete a Form I-134, Affidavit of Support (PDF, 480 KB), the petitioner should include with the parole application, a letter from the organization committing to support the beneficiary.

Eligibility for Parole

A USCIS officer considers each request and the evidence provided on a case-by-case basis, taking into account all of the circumstances. (See Section 212(d)(5) of the INA.) The burden of proof is on the petitioner to establish that parole should be authorized. Parole will be authorized only if we conclude, based on all the evidence the petitioner submits and any other relevant evidence available to us, that

  • There are urgent humanitarian or significant public benefit reasons for the beneficiary to be in the United States; and
  • The beneficiary merits a favorable exercise of discretion.

Urgent Humanitarian Reasons

There is no statutory or regulatory definition of "urgent humanitarian reasons." USCIS officers look at all of the circumstances, taking into account factors such as (but not limited to):

  • Whether or not the circumstances are pressing;
  • The effect of the circumstances on the individual’s welfare and wellbeing; and
  • The degree of suffering that may result if parole is not authorized.

An applicant may demonstrate urgency by establishing a reason to be in the United States that calls for immediate or other time-sensitive action, including (but not limited to) critical medical treatment, or the need to visit, assist or support a family member who is at an end of life stage of an illness or disease.

The factors considered in determining urgent humanitarian reasons are dependent on the type of parole request. See Guidance for Certain Types of Humanitarian or Significant Public Benefit Parole Requests for more information on factors often considered in some of the more common types of requests.

Significant Public Benefit

There is no statutory or regulatory definition of “significant public benefit.” Parole based on significant public benefit  includes, but is not limited to, law enforcement and national security reasons or foreign or domestic policy considerations. USCIS officers look at all of the circumstances presented in the case.

While the beneficiary may personally benefit from the authorization of parole, the statutory standard focuses on the public benefit in extending parole. For example, a beneficiary’s participation in legal proceedings may constitute a significant public benefit, because the opportunity for all relevant parties to participate in legal proceedings may be required for justice to be served.

There may be circumstances where a request is based on both urgent humanitarian reasons and significant public benefit reasons. For example, a person may be paroled if they have a request for medical care that involves experimental treatment or medical trials from which a larger community in the United States may benefit.

Determining Who is Authorized Parole

We exercise our discretion on a case-by-case basis, by evaluating positive factors in the record against any negative factors. Having an urgent humanitarian reason or a significant public benefit is a positive determining factor and it is evaluated against any negative factors present in a case. We evaluate the complete record.

Some common discretionary factors that we evaluate include (but are not limited to):

  • Whether the purpose of the parole request may be accomplished within a specific, temporary period of time;
  • Whether the beneficiary intends to leave the United States once their parole expires or has means to obtain lawful immigration status during the parole authorization period or any re-parole period that is envisioned (where applicable);
  • Whether there is evidence of any national security concerns;
  • Whether there is evidence of any criminal history or previous immigration violations;
  • Whether there is evidence of any previous participation in fraud;
  • Whether the beneficiary’s presence would benefit a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident or community in the United States;
  • Whether the beneficiary will have sufficient financial support while in the United States;
  • Evidence of the beneficiary’s character;
  • The effect of the beneficiary’s presence on a community in the United States; and
  • Whether there are other means, other than parole, that are available to the beneficiary so they can travel to and remain in the United States for the stated parole purpose, such as the ability or inability to obtain a visa.

No one factor determines the outcome of the case. Each decision is based on all of the circumstances present in a case.

We may revoke parole at any time if it determines that parole is no longer warranted or the beneficiary fails to comply with any conditions on the parole.

Parole Process

An overview of the parole process steps is as follows:

Step 1: Filing of Parole Request

The petitioner files the following at the USCIS Lockbox in Dallas:

(See the Requesting Parole section below for more specific information)

The Lockbox sends the parole request to USCIS International Operations Division (USCIS-IO) in Washington, D.C.

Step 2: USCIS Reviews the Request for Urgency (Triage)

Within 2 business days of receiving the request, (usually two weeks after Lockbox filing), USCIS-IO reviews each request to confirm jurisdiction and determine whether it warrants expedited processing because of an urgent or time-sensitive reason. All requests are reviewed initially to determine urgency, regardless of whether the petitioner specifically requests expedited consideration.

Step 3: USCIS Officer Makes a Decision

A USCIS officer considers the request. This includes:

  • Reviewing the request and all supporting documents;
  • Conducting all mandatory security checks and vetting;
  • Issuing a Request for Evidence (RFE) or Notice of Intent to Deny, if necessary;
  • Documenting the basis for the decision; and
  • Preparing the decision notice(s).

Step 4: Supervisor Reviews the Decision

A supervisor reviews all parole decisions before any decision is finalized.

Step 5: USCIS Provides Notification of the Decision

If authorized: We will mail an approval letter to the petitioner, the beneficiary and any representative of record. The letter provides notice of the decision and next steps for obtaining travel documents. We will also notify the U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate closest to the beneficiary’s residence.

If denied: We will mail a denial letter to the petitioner, beneficiary, and any representative of record.

Step 6: Issuance of Travel Documents and Parole into the United States (Approvals Only)

If a request is authorized, the approval notice will inform the beneficiary that he or she must complete a Form DS-160, Application for a Nonimmigrant Visa, and appear for an appointment with the Department of State consular section to verify their identity and collect biometrics for additional security vetting. All beneficiaries 14 years and older must provide biometrics. If no derogatory information or new identity information is identified during vetting, the U. S. Consulate issues a document referred to as a boarding foil that allows the beneficiary to travel to the United States within 30 days of it being issued.  Issuance of a boarding foil does not guarantee parole but allows the beneficiary to proceed to Step 7 below.

Step 7: Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Paroles into the United States (Approvals Only)

A CBP officer inspects the beneficiary at the port of entry. If CBP paroles the beneficiary, CBP will issue the parolee an I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, documenting the length of their parole period. The parole period begins when CBP paroles the beneficiary at the port of entry. After arriving in the United States, the parolee may request employment Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.

Requesting Parole

To request parole you must:

Submitting Evidence

The petitioner must show, through the parole request and supporting evidence, that the beneficiary qualifies for parole and merits a favorable exercise of discretion. Submitting all relevant supporting evidence will avoid delays. A USCIS officer may issue a Request for Evidence (RFE) to seek additional information. In addition to the Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, Form I-134, Affidavit of Support (PDF, 480 KB), and the filing fee or request for fee waiver, the petitioner should submit the following evidence to support their parole request:

  • Detailed explanation of the reasons why the petitioner is requesting parole;
  • Detailed explanation of the length of time for which the beneficiary needs parole;
  • Detailed explanation of why the beneficiary cannot obtain a U.S. nonimmigrant or immigrant visa from the U.S. Department of State including:
    • When and where the beneficiary attempted to obtain visas, if applicable;
    • If a visa application was denied, include a copy of the denial letter; and
    • If applicable, a detailed explanation of the reasons why the beneficiary cannot obtain any required waiver of inadmissibility and a copy of any denial letter received.
  • Copies of any previously filed immigrant petitions (Forms I-130, I-140, I-360, etc.) or non-immigrant petitions filed by or for the beneficiary, if available;
  • Copies of any documents that support the request, including a clear and legible copy of a government-issued identification that indicates the beneficiary’s citizenship.
    • If a birth certificate is provided, please submit a copy of the front and back of the original birth certificate.
  • Copies of a U.S. passport, lawful permanent resident card, birth certificate or other evidence of valid U.S. immigration status or citizenship for the petitioner and sponsor, where applicable.
  • See Guidance for Certain Types of Humanitarian or Significant Public Benefit Parole Requests for information on what additional evidence may support specific types of parole requests.

Submitting a Request for Parole

If the beneficiary has never been placed in deportation or removal proceedings, the petitioner must submit a request to the following address:

USCIS Dallas Lockbox
For U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Deliveries:
USCIS
P.O. Box 660865
Dallas, TX. 75266

For Express Mail and courier deliveries:
USCIS
Attn: HP
2501 S. State Hwy 121, Business
Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067

If the beneficiary is in removal proceedings or has been deported or removed from the United States, then the parole request must be sent to Immigration and Customs Enforcement at:

DHS/ICE/ERO/POCRU
MS-5204
Attn: Humanitarian Parole
500 12th Street SW
Washington, DC 20536-5098

Please see the I-131, Application for Travel Document website for instructions on submitting requests.

Requesting Parole for Children

Depending on the circumstances, when parole is requested for a minor child (a child under the age of 18), we will require proof of parentage, and in addition may require the following types of evidence in the interest of protecting the child:

Circumstance: Type of evidence that may be requested:
Where the minor beneficiary is traveling with one parent and the other parent will remain outside the United States

Written authorization from the non-traveling parent for the minor to travel, to include:

  • Permission from the non-traveling parent for the child to accompany the traveling parent;
  • The duration of authorized travel; and
  • If the parents of the child are divorced or separated, proof showing that the traveling parent has been awarded legal custody of the minor.
Where neither parent is traveling

Written authorization from both parents for the child to leave the country with an appointed guardian, to include:

  • The duration of travel and
  • Proof of legal guardianship issued by a government authority.
Where the parent or parents’ consent cannot be obtained
  • Written explanation from the petitioner or beneficiary explaining efforts to locate the parent; or
  • The circumstances surrounding their unavailability; and
  • Evidence of guardianship for the person who is accompanying the child on travel or receiving the child once he or she arrives.

Length of Parole Consideration Process

While processing time varies according to case complexity and how thorough the supporting documentation is in the initial filing, we strive to complete requests for parole for applicants outside the United States (or seeking re-parole as explained below) within 3 months. Please see our processing times website for current processing times. To avoid delays in processing, it is critical that applicants include all relevant supporting evidence at the time of application and in response to any request for evidence (RFE).

Expedited Processing

To request expedited processing, the petitioner should:

  • Follow the guidance on the Form I-131 instructions (PDF, 267 KB).
  • Write the word EXPEDITE in the top right corner of the application in black ink.
  • Provide an email address, phone number, and fax number for the petitioner or representative with any expedite request.
  • Include a detailed explanation of the reason for the expedite request along with any available supporting evidence.
    • Generally, all requests for parole are based on urgent needs; therefore, the petitioner must demonstrate significant reasons for expediting the request, such as a life threatening or other extremely urgent situation.

If Parole is Denied

The petitioner cannot appeal the denial of parole, as the grant of parole confers no substantive right or immigration status. However, if there are significant new facts that are relevant to the application for parole, the petitioner may file a new Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, packet with fee or request for fee waiver. There is no limit to the number of Forms I-131, Application for Travel Document a person may file.

Travel for Parolees

Leaving the United States

A parole document provided to an individual outside the United States is valid to be presented only once for parole at the port of entry. If the petitioner leaves the United States, their parole will end once the petitioner departs. If the petitioner wishes to travel abroad and then return to the United States as a parolee, they may file a separate application on a new Form I-131for advance parole before traveling abroad. For information on how to apply for advance parole while in the United States, please see Form I-131 instructions (PDF, 267 KB). The petitioner may also apply for a visa or again request parole from outside of the United States in order to return.

Re-Parole

Parole ends on the date the parole period expires, is revoked, or when the parolee departs the United States or obtains an immigration status, whichever happens first. Although parole is temporary in nature, in some instances, a beneficiary may need to remain in the United States beyond the period of authorized parole. In such instances, an individual may request re-parole from within the United States.

The petitioner may request re-parole by:

In addition to required fees or request for fee waiver, the submission should include materials and evidence to support re-parole, including explaining and providing supporting documents on the need for an additional authorized parole period.

The request should be filed at least 90 days in advance of the expiration of the authorized parole period to allow for sufficient processing time and to avoid the potential for accruing time in unlawful status.

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