New Orleans USCIS Field Office Update

May 7, 2015

Categories Prosecutorial Discretion

This week I had the privilege of attending a liaison meeting with the New Orleans Field Office. Once again, I was reminded of the professionalism of our local office. The meeting was very informative with great information and tips about navigating biometric appointments in the New Orleans USCIS office and obtaining I-551 stamps in the New Orleans USCIS office. Of great interest to me was the information they provided about how they process requests for prosecutorial discretion (also termed deferred action) and parole-in-place.

USCIS, just like ICE or CBP, has the authority to also exercise prosecutorial discretion in cases with exceptional circumstances or exceptional humanitarian concerns. For example, an individual who has overstayed their non-immigrant visa, such as an H-2B, but has a US citizen child struggling with significant health concerns, may have a situation that warrants prosecutorial discretion. A grant of discretion (or deferred action) could lead to permission to be in the US and authorization to work. The power of USCIS to exercise such discretion has also been formalized for certain individuals who came to the United States at a young age in a process we term Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA.

Parole-in-place is also an exercise of USCIS’s discretion. This is not a new power of USCIS, but formalized policy memorandum in 2013 set forth uniform guidelines for the exercise of discretion when the request is made by or on behalf of aliens who are present without admission or parole and who are spouses, children and parents of those serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces, in the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve or who previously served in the U.S. Armed Forces or Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve. Parole-in-place is also not an amnesty. The spouse, child, or parent must go through the process of obtaining permanent residence, but is able to remain in the United States while doing so. This means that an individual who entered without inspection can process for residence here in the United States without having to return to her home country and without having to apply for certain waivers. This provides great relief for those who are serving or who have served our country in all branches of the military and including the National Guard or Reserves.

The New Orleans Field Office has jurisdiction over individuals living in Louisiana and Mississippi. So, requests for discretion or parole-in-place for individuals in Louisiana and Mississippi would be filed with that office.

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