US & World

Filipino World War II vets' relatives may come to US sooner under rule change

Some surviving Filipino American World War II veterans may soon be joined by relatives who can wait for their immigrant visas to be processed once they are in the United States instead of in the Philippines.
Some surviving Filipino American World War II veterans may soon be joined by relatives who can wait for their immigrant visas to be processed once they are in the United States instead of in the Philippines.
Rodney Cajudo/Valor Project

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Some relatives of elderly Filipino American World War II veterans may be able to immigrate to the United States sooner than they planned.

Hundreds of thousands of Filipinos served with the U.S. military during the war. Decades later, many of the vets were granted U.S. citizenship and moved here. But many of the relatives they sponsored to join them have faced long waits for visas.

For some relatives, the wait may soon be over. Starting June 8, U.S. immigration officials will let some adult children and siblings of elderly vets arrive sooner. Those whose immigrant petitions have been approved may travel to the United States and wait for their immigrant visas here instead of in the Philippines.

Those who qualify would be allowed into the U.S. for three years with permission to work, a status they may renew every three years until their green cards are processed. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services released a statement from the agency's director:

“The Filipino World War II Veterans Parole Program honors the thousands of Filipinos who bravely enlisted to fight for the United States during World War II,” USCIS Director León Rodríguez said. “This policy will allow certain Filipino-American family members awaiting immigrant-visa issuance to come to the United States and be with their loved ones.”

The new rule does not apply to the wives or minor children of the veterans, who don't face as long a wait. But some adult children and siblings face waits that can be as long as 20 years or more, according to the agency.

U.S. officials said the new rule will be applied case-by-case. They said the change helps the elderly veterans because family members can be here to care for them as they age.

In some limited cases, the policy will also allow eligible relatives  to seek entry on their own if their sponsors -- the veteran or his or her spouse -- are deceased.

Officials estimate that only 2,000 to 6,000 Filipino American World War II vets are still alive in the United States.