Most entries below contain actual legal discussions of events directly related to Filipinos in or immigrating to the United States.
Remember- These writings are provided for general information only and do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create any attorney-client relationship. Each person's needs and requirements are different and require a personal evaluation to determine the proper legal course of action.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A Visit with Dr. Juan “Jim” Sanchez

Doctor Jim Sanchez is making a name for himself as an advocate for improving healthcare in the Philippines. 

Covering Luzon with a specially equiped mobile surgical van, equipped and supported by Rotarians from RC San Francisco del Monte, Quezon City (RI District 3780), Dr. Sanchez performs a variety of procedures using only local anesthetics. An overview of his current work is documented in this CNN video report.  

Dr. Juan "Jim" Sanchez & Attorney James "Jim" Austin 

 This month, Dr. Sanchez is in the United States visiting various Fil-Am societies, raising funds and creating partnerships for a most ambitious project - a prototype hospital on wheels. Labeled the “RP Healthcraft Carrier”, Dr. Sanchez envisions this multi-unit mobile medical facility as a valuable tool for disaster response and taking advanced medical services to underserved areas. Details of this project can be found at

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Filipino World War II Veterans Parole (FWVP) Program

Instructions and Requirements for the Filipino World War II Veterans Parole (FWVP) Program 

Last updated 6/1/2016 407pCT.  Please return to this page for later updates.

Simple Description of the FWVP Program:

The government estimates that there are between 2,000 and 6,000 Filipino WWII veterans living in the United States. These veterans are either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents (“green cards”). Some of these veterans may have filed a family petition (I-130) with USCIS that placed one or more of their relatives on a waiting list to later immigrate to the United States. In some relative categories, that wait can be more twenty years.

The FWVP Program gives some of these long-waiting relatives, and maybe their dependents, an opportunity to be "paroled" into the United States where they can live while waiting for U.S. Permanent Resident status.

In some cases, the FWVP Program may be used even if the petitioning veteran is deceased, and also in cases where the actual petitioner was the spouse of the WWII veteran.

Example:  Mr. Lozada is a recognized WWII veteran of the Philippine Army.  He and his wife moved to the United States and later became U.S. Citizens.  In 2000, Mr. Lozada filed a petition (I-130) for his married son Peter.  Because of the long immigrant visa waiting lists, Peter expects to keep waiting in the Philippines for another 5 to 10 years.  However, under the FWVP Program, Peter and the wife of Peter may now live in the United States while waiting the many years to become U.S. Permanent Residents.

Parole Program Highlights:
-Petitioner must be a Filipino WWII Veteran, or the surviving spouse of the veteran.

-Petitioner can be a U.S. Citizen or a U.S. Permanent Resident.

-The Petitioner must be residing in the United States.

-The Petition must be approved.  

-The Petitioner must apply for the Beneficiary's “parole” into the United States.

-In some cases, the spouse and children will be given parole with the Petition Beneficiary.

-Applications will be accepted beginning June 8, 2016.

-Applicants must prove the WWII Veteran status of the petitioner.

-Applicants will file the I-131 (parole request) and I-134 (Affidavit of Support).

-The current fee is $360, probably increasing to $575 in Fall, 2016.

-All applicants for parole will be interviewed by USCIS or the Department of State.

-Parole is given on a case by case basis for urgent humanitarian reasons or as a significant public benefit.

-The Program may be ended on June 7, 2021.

Parole Program Details:

The FWVP Program allows for the early entry of family member beneficiaries of Relative Petitions (I-130s) filed by Filipino WWII veterans or their surviving spouses.


Approved relatives under the FWVP Program will come and stay in the United States under “parole”.  Parole is an unusual concept that allows a person to be physically present in the United States without being legally “admitted”.  Parole is not a nonimmigrant status, such as a B (visitor), H (worker) or F (student), yet a person with parole may also apply for work authorization.

FWVP will be valid for three years, and will be renewable while in the United States.

 When Petitioner is the WWII Vet -- Qualifying Relative Petition Categories:

The relative petition filed by the veteran must be in one of these immigrant categories:
-1st Preference (FB-1)- Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. Citizens.
-2nd Preference (FB-2A)- Spouse or unmarried children under 21 of Permanent Residents.
-2nd Preference (FB-2B)- Unmarried sons and daughters of Permanent Residents.
-3rd Preference (FB-3)- Married sons and daughters of U.S. Citizens.
-4th Preference (FB-4)- Brothers and sisters of U.S. Citizens.

Most of the beneficiaries who may benefit from the FWVP Program are in the FB-3 and FB-4 categories, where the wait for an immigrant visa exceeds 20 years.  The petition beneficiary’s spouse will also be eligible for parole in these two categories.

When Petitioner is the “Surviving Spouse” of a WWII Veteran -- Qualifying Relative Petition Categories:

The term “surviving spouse” is not defined in U.S. immigration laws, but in other federal law the term addresses the widow or widower of a marriage partner who died during the marriage.

When the Relative Petition is filed by the surviving spouse of a deceased WWII Veteran, the principal petition beneficiary must be the son or daughter of both the veteran and the spouse.  Sons and daughters that were adopted or are step-children are included, as long as they meet U.S. immigration law's definition of "child".  This limits the qualifying petition filed by a surviving spouse to the following immigrant categories:

-1st Preference (FB-1)- Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. Citizens.
-2nd Preference (FB-2A)- Spouse or unmarried children under 21 of Permanent Residents.
-2nd Preference (FB-2B)- Unmarried sons and daughters of Permanent Residents.
-3rd Preference (FB-3)- Married sons and daughters of U.S. Citizens.

When the Petitioner is the current spouse of a living Filipino WWII Veteran:

The FWVP Program only gives benefits to the beneficiaries of petitions filed by the veteran and the veteran’s surviving spouse.  This is a flaw in this program that I discuss at length here.

The Petition Must be Approved Before Requesting Parole

The petitioner cannot request parole for the beneficiary under the FWVP Program until USCIS makes a final decision approving the relative petition. 

Most of these petitions were approved many years ago, with the beneficiary just on the waiting list for an immigrant visa.  However, more recently filed petition may still be pending with USCIS.  The current estimated processing time for USCIS to decide an FB-3 (married son/daughter of a U.S. Citizen) is four years.

The Relationship between the Petitioner and Beneficiary must have existed before May 10, 2016

There is no deadline for filing a petition that may qualify for treatment under the FWVP Program, but the relationship between the veteran and the beneficiary must have existed  on or before May 9, 2016.  This restriction has little meaning, and only bars getting parole for the new spouse of a Permanent Resident Filipino WWII veteran.

The Petitioner Need Not be Alive

Under normal U.S. immigration law, a relative petition is automatically cancelled when the Petitioner dies.  However, the law now allows for the Beneficiary to ask USCIS to reinstate the petition and allow the beneficiary to still immigrate to the United States.

The law allowing Petition reinstatement can be used for petitions under the FWVP Program, so it is still possible for the beneficiary to be paroled into the United States after the death of the petitioner.

Petitioner Must Reside in the United States

The veteran or the veteran’s surviving spouse must be residing in the United States when the beneficiary/relative requests parole.  This conforms with the purpose of the program, allowing the relative to be with and assist the veteran or surviving spouse.

Program Effective Dates

USCIS will begin accepting applications for parole under the FWVP Program on June 8, 2016.  While there is no end date for this program, the program will be reviewed in 2020 for possible termination after five years.

Application Process

Remember, it is the Petitioner (or self-applicant/Beneficiary, if the Petitioner is deceased) that will submit the application for parole under the FWVP Program. 


Every applicant for parole will file both Forms I-131 (Application for Travel Document)  and I-134 (Affidavit of Support) .  Although an Affidavit of Support must be filed, there is no requirement that the form must be completed by the Petitioner.  It may be possible for some other relative to complete the affidavit.  In cases where the petition has been reinstated after the death of the veteran, it is expected that the affidavit would be completed by an appropriate "substitute" sponsor.  However, it will be at the discretion of USCIS to ensure that sufficient financial arrangements have been made for the relative being paroled into the United States.

The only fee for parole under the FWVP Program is the fee for Form I-131, Application for Travel Document.  The current fee is $360.  USCIS has already announced their intention to raise the I-131 fee to $575 later in 2016.  The correct fee can always be found on the I-131 page at 

Where to File
USCIS will soon be updating the instructions and filing locations for Form I-131 to reflect the requirements of the FWVP Program.  Applications will be filed by mail to USCIS in the United States.

All applicants for parole will be required to appear for a personal interview at a USCIS office or consular post.  This includes FWVP applicants who are currently in the United States.

Other Required Evidence
Along with the request for parole, the applicant should also include evidence of the Filipino Veteran’s service in WWII was recognized by the U.S. Department of Defense.  There are three preferred methods of proving service:

1. Show the veteran is listed on the final roster prepared by the recovered Personnel Division of the U. S. Army for service with the Philippine Army during the World War II occupation and liberation of the Philippines;

2. Show the veteran is listed on the final roster prepared by the Guerilla Affairs Division of the U. S. Army for service within a recognized guerilla unit during the World War II occupation and liberation of the Philippines; or

3. Show the veteran served honorably in the Philippine Scouts or in another component of the U.S. Armed Forces in the Far East (other than the groups shown above) at any time between September 1, 1939 and December 31, 1946.

“USCIS will review government records to verify that the Filipino veteran's World War II military service was recognized by the Department of Defense. When this documentation is not available, USCIS will issue a Request for Evidence to allow the petitioner to submit evidence establishing the Filipino veteran's military service.”

Derivative Children

USCIS has decided that for the purpose of the FWVP Program, the only children of the direct petition beneficiary that will be allowed parole into the United States are those who are under 21 years of age on the date the parole request is received by USCIS.

Travel After Parole Entry

Being paroled into the United States under the FWVP Program do not have permission to travel and return.  Before departing the United States, it will be necessary to apply to USCIS for "advance parole" to allow reentry.

Parole is Discretionary – Each Case Reviewed Individually

Parole into the United States is granted for “urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit”.  USCIS considers, in general only, that allowing the relatives of these veterans to enter the US is a recognition of the contributions made by these veterans.  Further, if these relatives are able to provide support or care for the veterans would also be considered a “significant public benefit”. 

Meeting the requirements of the FWVP Program alone does not guarantee parole will be granted.  Each request for parole under the FWVP Program will be reviewed to determine if the applicant deserves a favorable decision.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Looking Ahead at the Remainder of 2016

Like any other profession, immigration attorneys must always be aware of potential future events that will necessitate additional staff training and workload adjustments.  Below are some 2016 immigration law developments that have already been incorporated into the advice given to current and potential clients.  All times are estimated.

STEM-OPT Transition Guidelines (Timing: Current)

Recent STEM-OPT rule changes have led to the government to establish special short term rules that allow limited recapturing of missed OPT time as well as extended filing deadlines for transition cases.

Filipino WWII Veteran Parole (FWVP) Program

This is a new program designed to benefit Filipino WWII veterans living in the United States.  If those veterans (or their spouses) have filed petitions for their relatives, and those relatives are still on a waiting list to immigrate to the United States, the FWVP Program may allow those relatives to come and wait in the U.S. for their Immigrant Visa.  A full discussion of the benefits and program requirements can be found here.

Final Rule Enhancing EB Portability and Worker Protections  (Timing: May-July)

Although most of the rule does no more than incorporate into the regulations what USCIS already practices, the rule will also will provide several new protections for H-1B workers who are beneficiaries of an Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker (I-140).  More on these protections once the final rule is issued.

Final Rule Expanding Provisional Waiver Coverage  (Timing: May-July)

This will be a nice expansion in the coverage of the provisional unlawful presence waiver first instituted in 2013.  This provision will extend eligibility to certain relatives of Permanent Residents.

Supreme Court Ruling on Executive Actions  (Timing: June)

The Supreme Court will rule on the viability of several Administrative Immigration Initiatives.  The main proposed programs effected by the ruling include an expansion of DACA (Deferred Action for Children) and the implementation of DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents).  The proposed DACA expansion will move up the “continuous residence” date to since January 1, 2010, and eliminate the age requirement as long as entry was prior to the applicant’s sixteenth birthday. 

            The DAPA program, of course, is the biggie.  DAPA will give millions of persons with U.S. citizen children and are not a threat to the our safety an opportunity to obtain temporary permission to remain in the United States. 

            If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the administration, the DACA expansion is expected to go into effect within sixty days.  For DAPA, the government will need more time to prepare for the potential large number of immediate applicants.  If DAPA does go into effect, applicants are going to have to consider carefully the pros and cons of immediately filing.  The outcome of the U.S. Presidential election will be a major factor to consider, and that question will not be answered until November.

Immigration Fee Increase (Timing – August-September)

USCIS has published for comment the planned increase in immigration user fees.  Yes, the fees will go up.  And yes, the increase is very substantial.  For example, a basic Petition for Alien Relative (I-130) goes up $115 to $535.  An employer’s Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker (I-140) shoots up to a cool $700.  Naturalization (N-400), with the biometrics fee, will now cost you  $725.

Philippine Elections  (Timing: Just Happened)

This blog entry was written on the return flight from Manila, one day after the election of incoming president Rodrigo Duterte.  Excellent voter turnout with very interesting results.  While most people do not expected the election to effect immigration between the Philippines and the United States, one never knows what the future holds.  However, the U.S. election in November is where most are watching for possible major changes to the immigration landscape.
A typically busy year for U.S. immigration attorneys.

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