USCIS presents new parole program for Filipino War Vets at PH Consulate

USCIS team: Refugee and Asylum Law Division Associate Counsel Allison Kent (2nd from left), International Operations Branch Chief Stephanie Kwan (3rd from left), Director John Kramar (5th from left) and White House Regional Adviser Ana Fortes (6th from left) (Photo: Gary De Guzman)

By Sharon Rummery

At least 45 people gathered when subject matter experts from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services visited the Philippine Consulate General on July 15 to talk about the new program that helps family members of Filipino veterans of World War II. Everyone wanted to know how the Filipino World War II Veterans Parole Program, also called the FWVP Program, works to benefit those who have been petitioned to immigrate by a World War II veteran or a veteran’s surviving spouse. The White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders shared duties with USCIS as the driving force that brought this team of experts to three California cities during the week of July 11. The San Francisco speaking date followed visits to San Diego and Los Angeles. WHIAPPI regional adviser Ana Fortes offered a welcome to open the session.

“My father proudly served in World War II and was a member of the guerrilla forces or, as he described it, was a Bolo Man,” she said. She went on to talk about the valiant history of military service by those from the Philippines in time of war.

Stephanie Kwan, of USCIS’ International Operations Division, explained the spirit in which this new program was initiated – to recognize the extraordinary contributions and sacrifices of Filipino World War II veterans who fought under the U.S. flag, and to help them and their surviving spouses get care and support from family members. She offered a quick overview of the workings of the program.

• A petitioner must be in the U.S. as a U.S. citizen or permanent resident

• A petitioner must be a Filipino whose World War II military service was recognized by the Department of Defense, or be that person’s surviving spouse

• The beneficiary must also have a form I-130 that USCIS has approved or reinstated

Petitioners who meet these criteria may file to have a relative considered under the FWVP Program. She discussed fees for filing, and noted that people can request a fee waiver, if their financial circumstances make them eligible. Those whose otherwise qualified parents have passed away might still be eligible to self-apply under this program.

So what does this program bring? Those who are approved under the FWVP Program will be paroled into the U.S., to wait here until their visa bulletin preference number becomes current, and they’re able to complete the immigration process.

“Immigration parole is very different from the parole people receive when they’re released from prison,” said Kwan. ” It’s permission to come to the U.S. temporarily, to reside here legally and to apply to work.”

She mentioned that to be paroled under the FWVP Program, family members must be interviewed abroad, including those currently living in the U.S. But they needn’t necessarily travel to the Philippines – any foreign country will do. Once found eligible, they’ll be paroled at a U.S. port of entry. The parole is granted for a three-year period, which is renewable until the person is eligible to become a permanent resident.

USCIS Associate Counsel Allison Kent explained how those whose eligible parents have passed away can still request parole under the FWVP Program. If a petitioner dies, the petition is automatically revoked. But if a parent had petitioned a person, and that petition was either approved or reinstated, then parole can happen under the FWVP Program. She explained the intricacies of reinstating this sort of petition.

“We approve these for humanitarian reasons,” she said. “Reinstatement revives the visa process, so people can still immigrate to the U.S. There is no fee associated with asking us to reinstate a petition.”

A spirited question and answer session brought up such issues as the bar against re-entry after illegal presence and the affidavit of support (multiple sponsors are okay, and even organizations can be a sponsor).

Both USCIS officers warned people about the possibility of scams. Whenever there’s something to be gained through changes in immigration laws programs, there’s always the danger that unscrupulous players might try to cheat people out of their money.

The best way to avoid that is to get acquainted with the agency’s website,, where people can find ways to avoid scams, and can learn more about the FWVP Program.