Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Parole status offered to foreign dependents of FAS citizens, others

Parole status offered to foreign dependents of FAS citizens, others

Wednesday, 02 December 2009 00:00 By Gemma Q. Casas - Reporter

THE U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services says it will grant a two-year parole status on a case-by-case basis to eligible foreign nationals from certain impacted groups in the CNMI, like the foreign spouses and immediate relatives of citizens of the Freely Associated States.

This will allow them to stay on the islands even as the U.S. immigration law is applied here.

This parole status will also be offered to CNMI permanent residents and their immediate relatives and the spouses and children of deceased CNMI permanent residents.

The FAS are the Republic of Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia — Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei, Yap — and the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

Citizens of these independent nations can freely travel, work and study anywhere in the U.S. and its territories like the CNMI.

But authorities said the law that extended U.S. immigration jurisdiction to the CNMI, U.S. Public Law 110-229 or the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008, does not provide any U.S. immigration status to their foreign dependents living in the CNMI.

David Gulick, district director of the USCIS, said this parole status is not mandatory and is being offered for humanitarian reasons to minimize potential adverse economic impact on the CNMI and support future business growth here.

“We’re not going to mandate that they take advantage of it but we will make it available for them…. This is unique to the CNMI. Let’s say, a Marshallese has a spouse from Mexico [then the parole status is recommended],” he said.

Alexander Y. Hartman, immigration policy advisor of the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Policy Development, said their department is offering the parole status to these foreign nationals in good faith and for humanitarian reasons.

“It is a compassionate decision made by DHS recognizing the unique situation of the islands,” he said.

The parole status is valid for two years and will be renewable subject to certain conditions.

The USCIS has the discretion to terminate the parole status if the parolee committed a crime in the CNMI or is experiencing a personal change in circumstances affecting eligibility.

Under this parole policy, the USCIS defined an immediate relative as a legally recognized spouse; a child under the age of 21 whether natural or adopted before the age of 18; a stepchild if the marriage that established that relationship took place before the child’s 18th birthday; or a surviving spouse or child of a CNMI permanent resident.

Gulick said there is no filing fee to obtain parole in the CNMI under this program.

However, fees will be charged if they leave the islands and get the appropriate documents to travel.

Applicants for the parole status are advised to first make an appointment online to visit the USCIS Application Support Center on Saipan.

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