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Notice

Filipino World War II Veterans Parole Policy

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AGENCY:

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

ACTION:

Notice.

SUMMARY:

This notice announces the implementation of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' (USCIS) Filipino World War II Veterans Parole (FWVP) policy. Under this policy, USCIS will Start Printed Page 28098offer certain beneficiaries of approved family-based immigrant visa petitions an opportunity to request 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 numbers to become available. Among other things, the policy recognizes the extraordinary contributions and sacrifices of Filipino veterans who fought for the United States during World War II. The policy also enhances the ability of such elderly veterans and their spouses to obtain care and support from their family members abroad.

DATES:

On or after June 8, 2016, individuals will be able to request parole under the FWVP policy.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Maura Nicholson, Deputy Chief, International Operations Division, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security, 20 Massachusetts Avenue NW., Suite 3300, Washington, DC 20529, Telephone 202-272-1892. (This is not a toll-free number.)

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Background of the FWVP Policy

More than 260,000 Filipino soldiers enlisted to fight for the United States during World War II. Estimates indicate that as many as 26,000 of these brave individuals became U.S. citizens. As U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents (LPRs), these veterans may petition for certain of their family members to come to the United States. Estimates indicate that there are approximately between 2,000 to 6,000 Filipino American World War II veterans still alive in the United States today, many of whom greatly desire to have their family members in the United States during their final days.[1]

With the exception of “immediate relatives” (i.e., parents, spouses, unmarried children under 21 years of age) of U.S. citizens, see Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) sec. 201(b)(2)(A)(i), 8 U.S.C. 1151(b)(2)(A)(i), the number of family-sponsored immigrant visas that are available in any given year is limited by statute. See INA secs. 201(a) and (c), 202(a) and 203, 8 U.S.C. 1151(a) and (c), 1152(a) and 1153. These statutory limits have resulted in long waiting periods before family members may join the petitioning U.S. citizens or LPRs in the United States and become LPRs themselves. For certain Filipino American family members, this wait can exceed 20 years.[2]

Recognizing the contributions and sacrifices of Filipino veterans who fought for the United States during World War II and their families, USCIS has decided to implement the FWVP policy. In many cases, paroling these family members may also allow them to provide support and care for elderly veterans or their surviving spouses. Under this policy, USCIS will consider individual requests for parole submitted for certain relatives who are the beneficiaries of approved family-based immigrant visa petitions filed by Filipino veterans or their surviving spouses.[3] Where USCIS determines that exercising such discretion is appropriate, USCIS may approve parole requests for such relatives so that they may wait in the United States until they are able to adjust status under existing immigration laws.[4]

In light of the circumstances described above, among other considerations, USCIS believes that the parole of qualified applicants who establish on a case-by-case basis that they are eligible for consideration under this policy and merit a favorable exercise of discretion would generally yield a “significant public benefit.” Additionally, considering the advanced age of World War II Filipino veterans and their spouses, and their increased need for care and companionship, grants of parole under the FWVP policy would often address urgent humanitarian concerns. In all cases, whether to parole a particular individual under this policy is a discretionary determination that will be made on a case-by-case basis. Accordingly, parole applications for individuals who fall within the general criteria but whose cases present overriding adverse factors (e.g., criminal history) would not be approved.

II. Participation in the FWVP Policy and Application Process

Those who may benefit from the FWVP policy are individuals: (1) who are the beneficiaries of Forms I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, including any accompanying or following-to-join spouse and children,[5] who were approved on or before the filing date of the parole request (Form I-131, Application for Travel Document); (2) whose qualifying relationship with the petitioning relative existed on or before May 9, 2016; (3) whose petitioning relative is residing in the United States (or, if deceased, was residing in the United States at the time of death); (4) whose immigrant visas are not authorized for issuance per the Application Final Action Dates chart for family-sponsored preference cases on the Department of State's Visa Bulletin; and (5) whose petitioning relatives have established they are either Filipino World War II veterans or are the surviving spouses of such individuals.

The Filipino veteran's qualifying World War II military service must have previously been recognized by the Department of Defense and must be described in section 405 of the Immigration Act of 1990 (IMMACT'90),[6] as amended by section 112 of Department of Justice Appropriations Act, 1998, which requires an individual to fall within one of three categories: [7]

1. Individuals who are listed on the final roster prepared by the recovered Personnel Division of the United States Army of those who served honorably in an active duty status with the Philippine Army during the World War II occupation and liberation of the Philippines;

2. Individuals who are listed on the final roster prepared by the Guerilla Affairs Division of the United States Army of those who received recognition as having served honorably in an active duty status within a recognized guerilla unit during the World War II occupation and liberation of the Philippines; or

3. Individuals who served honorably in an active duty status within the Philippine Scouts or within any other component of the United States Armed Forces in the Far East (other than a component described in clauses 1 or 2) at any time during the period beginning Start Printed Page 28099September 1, 1939, and ending December 31, 1946.

USCIS will review government records to verify that the Filipino veteran's World War II military service was recognized by the Department of Defense. When this documentation is not available, USCIS will issue a Request for Evidence to allow the petitioner to submit evidence establishing the Filipino veteran's military service.

When the petitioning relative in the United States is the Filipino World War II veteran, individuals eligible for parole consideration could include beneficiaries under any family-sponsored preference category. Individuals who qualify as “immediate relatives” under section 201(b)(2)(A)(i) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1151(b)(2)(A)(i), however, will not be eligible for parole under this policy because immigrant visas for these individuals are already immediately available. Immediate relatives may seek immigrant visas for travel to the United States immediately upon the approval of immigrant visa petitions filed on their behalf. In situations where the petitioning relative in the United States is the surviving spouse of a Filipino World War II veteran, eligible individuals who may be considered for parole under this policy include only the child, son, or daughter of the surviving spouse who is also the child, son, or daughter of the Filipino World War II veteran.[8]

In cases where the petitioning relative is deceased, eligible individuals described in this paragraph may also seek parole on their own behalf, under this policy, in cases where USCIS has reinstated the approval of Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, for humanitarian reasons. If such petition is reinstated, the self-petitioner must establish (1) a qualifying family relationship with the deceased Filipino veteran or spouse (i.e. the self-petitioner is a qualifying child, son, daughter, brother or sister of the Filipino World War II veteran); and (2) that the deceased Filipino veteran had qualifying World War II military service, as described above. Again, each of these parole requests will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis to determine whether the petitioner has met the criteria for parole and merits a favorable exercise of discretion.

Seeking parole under the FWVP policy is voluntary.

On or after June 8, 2016, an eligible U.S.-based U.S. citizen or LPR Filipino World War II veteran, or surviving spouse, with an approved Form I-130 may request parole under the FWVP policy on behalf of his or her eligible beneficiary relatives (or, if a self-applicant, on his or her own behalf). An eligible petitioner or self-applicant must file a completed Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, and a completed Form I-134, Affidavit of Support, and submit the required fee(s) or fee waiver request [9] on behalf of each beneficiary he or she wishes to have considered for parole. The veteran, surviving spouse, or self-petitioner must provide documentation of the veteran's qualifying World War II military service as described under section 405 of IMMACT'90, as amended. Detailed instructions on how to request parole under this policy will be included in the Instructions to Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, and on the USCIS Web site at (www.uscis.gov). USCIS will reject a Form I-131 that is not properly filed. USCIS strongly encourages individuals seeking to request parole under the FWVP policy to make such requests within 5 years from June 8, 2016 in order for their qualifying family members to be considered under this policy. Following the first four years of the implementation of this policy, USCIS will conduct additional outreach and evaluate whether the volume of actual or potential requests would support maintaining the policy, or whether it should be phased out at the end of 5 years.

USCIS or Department of State consular officers will interview all individuals considered for parole under the FWVP policy to determine whether parole is appropriate on a case-by-case basis.[10] Individuals requesting parole under this policy may also be required to have their biometrics collected. If USCIS favorably exercises its discretion to issue parole under the FWVP policy by approving the Form I-131, USCIS or the Department of State will issue the necessary travel documents to the beneficiary in the location he or she was interviewed. These travel documents generally will enable the beneficiary to travel to a U.S. port-of-entry and request parole from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to join his or her family member. Before the beneficiary's parole expires, the beneficiary would be required to (1) seek re-parole; (2) if eligible, apply to adjust status to that of lawful permanent resident or apply and be processed overseas for an immigrant visa; or (3) depart the United States.

If an immigrant visa becomes available to an individual who is not an “immediate relative” while a Form I-131 filed under the FWVP policy is pending, the individual will be considered for parole under this policy, if desired. Alternatively, the beneficiary can choose to pursue immigrant visa processing, which will require payment of associated fees, but will enable the individual to apply for admission to the United States as an immigrant, if found eligible by the Department of State for the immigrant visa and admissible by CBP at a U.S. port of entry.

III. Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA)

Under the PRA, 44 U.S.C. chapter 35, all Departments are required to submit to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and approval, any new reporting requirements they impose. The USCIS, Application for Travel Document, (Form I-131), has been approved by OMB and assigned OMB control number 1615-0013. USCIS is only revising the Form I-131 Instructions in connection with the implementation of the FWVP policy and this notice. USCIS filed an emergency request with OMB and obtained approval of the changes to the Form I-131 Instructions. More information regarding the annual burden impact resulting from the implementation of this new policy will be provided during the next renewal cycle of the Form I-131. Currently, USCIS estimates that the FWVP policy might result in approximately 6,000 new respondents filing Form I-131s. The current OMB-approved estimated number of respondents filing Form I-131 is 940,671. USCIS believes it has overestimated the number of individuals who will use this form to apply for immigration benefits to the degree that additional respondents who will use it to file a request under the FWVP policy will be covered within the 940,671 estimated.

Additional information about the consideration of parole requests under the FWVP policy will be posted on the USCIS Web site at www.uscis.gov.

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Dated: May 2, 2016.

León Rodríguez,

Director, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

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Footnotes

1.  See Modernizing and Streamlining our Legal Immigration System for the 21st Century 38 (July 2015), available at https://www.whitehouse.gov/​sites/​default/​files/​docs/​final_​visa_​modernization_​report1.pdf.

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2.  The January 2016 Visa Bulletin issued by the Department of State indicates that for individuals chargeable to the Philippines, visas may be issued to individuals with priority dates ranging from before August 01, 2014 for family-sponsored second preference category (for spouses and unmarried children of LPRs) to before July 22, 1992 for the family-sponsored fourth preference category (for siblings of U.S. citizens). See January 2016 Visa Bulletin, U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, available at http://www.travel.state.gov/​content/​dam/​visas/​Bulletins/​visabulletin_​january2016.pdf.

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3.  See INA sec. 212(d)(5)(A), 8 U.S.C. 1182(d)(5)(A) (permitting parole of certain aliens into the United States, as a matter of discretion and on a case-by-case basis, for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit); see also 8 CFR 212.5(a) and (c)-(e) (discretionary authority for establishing conditions of parole and for terminating parole).

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4.  INA sec. 245(a), 8 U.S.C. 1255(a), permits adjustment of status for an alien paroled into the United States. Under 8 CFR 245.1(d)(1)(v), a parolee is considered to be in a lawful status for purposes of INA sec. 245(c)(2) if an individual is seeking adjustment of status as an immediate relative or family-based immigrant.

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5.  See INA sec. 203(d), 8 U.S.C. 1153(d).

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6.  See Pub. L. 101-649, 104 Stat. 4978.

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7.  See Pub. L. 105-119, 111 Stat. 2440.

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8.  See INA sec. 101(b)(1) (defining “child”). This definition includes individuals who qualify as step-children, legitimized children, children born out of wedlock and adopted children.

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9.  The Director of USCIS has determined that individuals seeking parole under the FWVP policy may request a waiver of the fee for Form I-131, Application for Travel Document. Making the fee waiver available for those applicants who are unable to pay is in the public interest and consistent with other applicable law, consistent with 8 CFR 103.7(d). A fee waiver may be requested by completing Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver, in accordance with its instructions, and submitting that form with Form I-131.

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10.  The Department of State, however, will not make parole determinations.

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[FR Doc. 2016-10750 Filed 5-6-16; 8:45 am]

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