Today, Veterans Day is a day we set aside to thank the members of the armed forces and their families for their daily sacrifices. Nonimmigrants and foreign-born United States citizens have a proud history of serving in the military – in 2009, 7% of our armed forces members were born outside the United States; and over 100 immigrants have been granted posthumous U.S. citizenship after their deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has really done a fantastic job of working with the needs of immigrants who serve and their families. They recognize the awful dichotomy of asking an active duty military member to protect the United States when the undocumented spouse could get deported at any time or be stuck waiting abroad for months for an immigrant visa. There are also other benefits that military members receive, such as expedited naturalization.
We are working on two cases where U.S. service members married foreign nationals who both entered the United States without inspection. Normally, the foreign-born spouse would have to return to her home country to apply for a waiver and consular process – a process that would mean months spent in the home country. However, Parole in Place erases this need for international travel. It’s a very special program that allows military families to stay together and “forgives” the unlawful entry.
Once the green card has been granted, instead of waiting years, the wives can immediately apply for U.S. citizenship instead of waiting three years. Imagine going from undocumented to being a U.S. citizen within about 18 months. We are so excited for both of these families and we’re honored to be part of their immigration journey.
Military families deserve our respect, support, and compassion. I am grateful that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and USCIS recognize the special needs of immigrant service members and mixed-immigration status military families.