DHS Introduces New Initiative to Support Family Unity and Stability

On June 17, 2024, the DHS announced a new initiative toward keeping families together in alignment with the Biden-Harris Administration’s goals. This new process offers a potential pathway to citizenship for spouses of US citizens who have been living in the country for a decade but are facing separation due to existing immigration procedures. While it doesn’t solve the broader immigration challenges, it provides much-needed relief and stability for thousands of families facing uncertainty.

It’s best to consult with a family immigration lawyer in New York to understand this initiative and how it might apply to your case, but we have provided the basics you need to know in this blog.

How can DHS’ initiative affect your case? 

The current law allows spouses of U.S. citizens to apply for a green card through marriage. Unfortunately, this process often forces them to leave the United States and wait abroad while their application is being processed. This can lead to a long and stressful separation for families, causing a lot of hardship and uncertainty.

The new DHS initiative aims to help certain spouses of U.S. citizens avoid this long separation. They will consider requests from non-citizen spouses who have lived in the U.S. for at least 10 years on a case-by-case basis. However, there are some requirements:

  • They must not be a threat to national security or public safety.
  • They must be eligible for a green card through adjustment of status (meaning they meet other immigration requirements).
  • Their situation must warrant a favorable decision by the DHS after considering all the factors involved.

If eligible, non-citizens do not need to leave the US when applying for lawful permanent residence. Approximately 500,000 non-citizen spouses of US citizens may qualify for this process. The DHS estimated that these individuals have lived an average of 23 years in the US. In addition, around 50,000 children of these spouses will be eligible.

Naturally, non-citizens believed or proven to be a threat to public safety, or national safety won’t be eligible—they will be removed, detained, or referred to other federal agencies for additional investigation, vetting, or prosecution as necessary.

If you are wondering if you are eligible, talk to a family immigration lawyer in New York to assist you.

Continued efforts to strengthen family unity

The Biden-Harris Administration has been prioritizing family unity in the immigration system and has implemented several initiatives to achieve this. One of these is the implementation of family reunification parole processes for Ecuador, Honduras, El Salvador, and Colombia nationals. Additionally, the administration is modernizing and updating the Haitian and Cuban family reunification parole processes, leading the Family Reunification Task Force to reunite almost 800 children with their families and creating country-specific parole processes for certain CHNV (Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela) nationals with a US-based supporter.

Are you eligible?

The DHS will consider non-citizens on a case-by-case basis as long as they are:

  • Present in the US without parole or admission
  • Continuously present in the US for at least 10 years as of 17th June 2024
  • Legally and validly married to a US citizen as of 17th June 2024.

Additionally, eligible individuals must not constitute a threat to public safety or national security, have no disqualifying criminal history, and should demonstrate excellent exercise of discretion.

What about non-citizen children of potential requestors?

These applicants could also be considered for parole under the process as long as they are physically present in the US without parole or admission. Moreover, they must have a qualifying stepchild relationship with the US citizen as of 17th June 2024.

How to be considered for parole

There isn’t enough information yet on how to apply for the new DHS family reunification parole programs. The DHS and USCIS have yet to provide additional information on the application process and eligibility. It’s best to consult a family immigration lawyer in New York to get specific advice. It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on official DHS and USCIS websites for updates on the program launch and application process. 

More about the process

Once the USCIS receives a properly filed parole, it will decide on a case-by-case basis whether it would grant that parole and if the applicant merits a suitable exercise of discretion. All requests involve looking into the criminal and previous immigration histories of the potential requestor, as well as the results of public safety and national security vetting, background checks, and other relevant details requested by or available to the USCIS.

Do you have questions about this initiative?

Arrange a complimentary consultation with a family immigration lawyer in New York. Connect with us here at Berd & Klauss, PLLC by emailing info@berdklauss.com or calling 212-461-7152.