What is Humanitarian Parole?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 15 February 2020
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Humanitarian parole is legal permission to temporarily enter the United States, granted under exceptional circumstances to someone who does not meet other requirements for legal entry. To apply for this, people must be outside the United States. Once in the country on parole, they must leave before the parole expires or file a reparole application if the conditions leading to their humanitarian parole have not yet been resolved. The United States grants this special permission for entry at its discretion.

The most common reason to apply for humanitarian is a political or ecological emergency where a person can present compelling evidence to justify admission into the United States for medical care or other needs. People may also apply for parole if they have become separated from family members, as may happen if not everyone in a family successfully applies for visas. Children are common parole grantees, on the grounds that separating children from their parents can have harmful effects, making it important to keep children with their families, if possible.


To apply for humanitarian parole, applicants must go to a US embassy to obtain an application. Complete documentation of the situation is necessary, along with an estimate on how long the person will need to stay in the United States. Working with an immigration attorney can be helpful, as attorneys have experience with the process and can make sure applications are complete while helping people argue their cases more effectively. The person will be subject to an interview at the embassy and it may be necessary to interview friends and family as well.

If a permission for humanitarian parole is granted, the subject will receive notification. The notification includes a discussion of how long she can remain in the United States, and any special conditions the government chooses to set. In widespread emergencies, the government may establish fast-track parole policies to help people apply for legal permission to enter the country quickly and efficiently; for example, after a devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010, the Department of Homeland Security announced a new parole policy for Haitian orphans to make sure they made it into the United States to receive medical care before it was too late.

This is not the same thing as a request for asylum from people who fear political or social repercussions for remaining in their own countries. The process for asylum-seekers is different and requires meeting a different set of standards. It is important to be aware that overstaying humanitarian parole can subject people to deportation and other legal proceedings, and may make it more difficult for them to enter the United States legally in the future.


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