What Is Humanitarian Parole?
It is temporary permission to enter and stay in the country in accordance with certain rules.
Parole is when the U.S. government allows a person who otherwise wouldn’t be eligible to enter the United States permission to be in the United States for a temporary period of time for “urgent humanitarian reasons” or “significant public benefit.” Humanitarian parole is not a visa, but it is temporary permission to enter the country pursuant to certain rules.
On April 21, 2022, the U.S. government announced a new humanitarian parole program for Ukrainians called “Uniting for Ukraine.” This program will permit sponsors in the United States to apply to sponsor Ukrainians to come to the United States on humanitarian parole for up to two years, with the right to apply for work authorization. Sponsors may begin the application process here, and more information about the program is available here. The approval process has generally been fairly quick, with many sponsors reporting that their sponsorship affidavit was approved within a week or two, and the beneficiary’s travel authorization issued shortly thereafter.
The information in this document describes the usual humanitarian parole process administered by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), not the new program specifically created for Ukrainians fleeing the war.
Please note, as stated on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website, “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.”
You may have heard about people entering the United States from Mexico and being granted humanitarian parole by Customs and Border Protection officers at the ports of entry on the border. For information about entering the United States from Mexico, please see our informational document “Issues at the US-Mexico Border.”
How to Apply for Humanitarian Parole from Outside the USA
The application process is the same for people of all nationalities, and chances of approval have historically been quite low. The decision whether to grant or deny parole is at the discretion of the USCIS officer on a case-by-case basis upon considering all of the circumstances. The information below was taken and condensed from the following website: “Humanitarian or Significant Public Benefit Parole for Individuals Outside the United States” accessed March 30, 2022.
There are a number of different eligibility categories under which a person might request humanitarian parole. Being a refugee from war is not one of the listed categories. The category for Ukrainian applicants would most likely be – “To Reunite With Family in the United States for Urgent Humanitarian Reasons”. Please see the USCIS website listed above and below for other possible categories. It is okay to provide evidence supporting more than one category.
In order to qualify for humanitarian parole under this category, the petitioner must live in the U.S and the petitioner must show that the beneficiary (the person abroad) is particularly vulnerable due to factors such as age, disability, or living circumstances. The types of documentation listed below will be necessary to support your case. Please note that a letter from an attorney or legal representative may be helpful but is not considered evidence by USCIS.
The petitioner will need to provide evidence that demonstrates the:
- Particular vulnerability of the family member; and
- Reasons the vulnerability cannot be addressed in the country where the family member resides.
Examples of Relevant Evidence
- Evidence identifying and supporting the urgent humanitarian reasons for the request aside from the desire for family reunification.
- If parole is based on the asserted vulnerability of the family member living abroad, the petitioner must submit:
- Evidence supporting the existence of the vulnerability;
- Statements or other documentation explaining the living conditions or circumstances of the family member; and
- Information on other family members living in the same country or near the family member abroad.
- Civil documents establishing relationships between the beneficiary and family members in the United States. (In the case of same-sex partners in countries that do not recognize such relationships, other evidence demonstrating the nature of the relationship, such as affidavits, copies of photographs, records of household members, etc.)
- Any evidence regarding the beneficiary’s eligibility to apply for lawful permanent residence once in the United States or any plans of the beneficiary to depart the United States.
- If you have ever applied for an immigrant or non-immigrant visa, a copy of the decision on that application or petition and/or any evidence concerning a pending immigrant or non-immigrant application or petition, and/or an explanation of why a visa was not obtained to enter the United States.
In addition, the following documents are required:
- Both the petitioner and beneficiary will need to provide an acceptable form of photo ID. Valid, unexpired passport is preferred proof for the beneficiary
- The beneficiary will need to submit two identical passport-size photos of themself
You Need a Sponsor
One important factor that USCIS considers in determining whether to exercise discretion to authorize parole is whether the beneficiary will have a means of support while in the United States. USCIS will 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. USCIS 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.
The sponsor does not need to be a US citizen or legal resident, but they must reside permanently in the United States, and it would be a positive factor for the sponsor to be a US citizen or legal resident.
Suggested evidence from the Sponsor:
- A signed statement from an officer of the bank or other financial institution that states when you opened an account, the total amount deposited for the past year, and the present balance of such account
- A signed statement from your employer on business letterhead that states the date and nature of your employment, salary paid, and whether the position is temporary or permanent
- A copy of your last federal income tax return filed, or a report of commercial rating concern (if self-employed)
- A list containing the serial numbers and denominations of bonds and names of the owners (if applicable)
A note on public benefits: In general, persons admitted on humanitarian parole will will not be eligible for Food Stamps, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (cash assistance), or Supplemental Security Income from the federal government. Whether the beneficiary will be eligible for subsidized medical insurance depends on the state, because each state has different rules and regulations. Ukrainians paroled into the United States between February 24, 2022, and September 30, 2023 are eligible for benefits under a special Congressional appropriation. Please see our Uniting for Ukraine article and public benefits resources page for more information.
To apply for Humanitarian Parole, you must file both FormI-131 and Form I-134. The I-131 is called the “I-131 Application for Travel Document” and the I-134 is called the “I-134 Affidavit of Support”. Do not confuse this with other affidavit of support forms like the I-864 which is for immigrant visa applicants. All of these forms are available for free on the USCIS website. Please read the form instructions completely, also available on the website:
(Please note that Form I-131 is used to request a variety of different benefits and thus the language on the form does not mention Humanitarian Parole)
You may also want to submit a form G-1145 E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance, in order to receive text alerts about action on your case.
Application Fee: $575 payable by check, money order, or by credit card with form G-1450
Filing address (by mail) – please check USCIS website for up-to-date filing addresses. Currently the filing address is located in Dallas, Texas.
Processing times for form I-131 are currently 8-14 months. It is unclear whether USCIS will designate more resources to process these applications faster.
To request that your case be expedited, please write EXPEDITE on the top of your form I-131 and also include a written statement and additional evidence as to why your case should be expedited based on the emergency circumstances in your case.