US senator hosting meetings to help Filvets with parole program
HONOLULU – Senator Mazie K. Hirono is hosting a series of outreach events to assist Filipino World War II veterans in applying to reunite with family members still living in the Philippines.
During the first outreach on July 2, Hirono brought together close to 50 Filipino veterans and family members with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) District Director David Gulick and members of the Hawaii Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association to provide information and assistance on the USCIS Filipino WWII Veterans Parole Program (FWVP).
Under the program, Filipino veterans whose service has been recognized by the US Department of Defense, or their surviving spouses, may apply to bring their children and certain other family members to the United States.
“Filipino World War II veterans have waited decades for the opportunity to be reunited with their family from the Philippines,” said Hirono. “I appreciate the Obama Administration’s recognition of the importance of family reunification for Filipino WWII veterans.”
Hirono said that the implementation of the program is crucial and she promised to work with USCIS and non-profit organizations to make sure these veterans get information and help. “I plan to host outreach events and share information throughout the summer with Filipino WWII veterans across the state,” she said.
Filipino veterans were granted citizenship in recognition of their service to the United States during World War II. Many of their children, however, were not. Due to backlogs in the U.S. immigration system, it can take more than 20 years for immigration applications to be reviewed.
Under the FWVP program, families, some of whom have been waiting decades, can finally be together in the United States while their applications are processed. It is important to note that FWVP is an additional process for families of Filipino World War II veterans who have already received approval for their immigrant visas, but continue to wait for a visa number to become available.
Hirono has led the effort in Congress to reunite Filipino World War II veterans with their families. After years of advocacy by the Democratic senator, the Obama Administration announced last July the creation of the parole program. Hirono then pushed for the program’s quick implementation.
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