In a little-noticed memo on November 20th, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson ordered Customs and Border Protection and Citizenship and Immigration Services to allow unlawful immigrants who are granted advance parole to depart the United States and reenter legally. This memo is based on a decision rendered in a 2012 Board of Immigration Appeals case called Matter of Arrabally. Allowing the immigrant to legally leave and reenter on advance parole means he or she can apply for a green card from inside of the United States–if he or she qualifies.
Advance parole can be granted to recipients of DACA (deferred action for childhood arrivals) and DAPA (deferred action for parental accountability) if they travel abroad for humanitarian, employment, or educational purposes, which are broadly defined.
Leaving the United States under advance parole means that the departure doesn’t legally count, so the 3/10 year bars are not triggered, and the unlawful immigrant can apply for a green card once they return to the United States through 8 USC §1255 if he or she is immediately related to a U.S. citizen. Reentering the United States under advance parole means that the prior illegal entry and/or presence are wiped out in the eyes of the law. Crucially, individuals who present themselves for inspection and are either admitted or paroled by an immigration officer can apply for their green card from inside of the United States and wait here while their application is being considered.
In such a case, unlawful immigrants who receive deferred action and who are the spouses of American citizens will be able to leave the United States on advance parole and reenter legally, allowing them to apply for a green card once they return. Unlawful immigrants who are the parents of adult U.S. citizen children will be able to do the same. Unlawful immigrants who are the parents of minor U.S. citizen children and are paroled back into the country will just have to wait until those children are 21 years of age and then they can be sponsored for a green card.
According to New York based immigration attorney Matthew Kolken, “President Obama’s policy change has the potential to provide a bridge to a green card for what could be millions of undocumented immigrants with close family ties to the United States.”