SIGNIFICANT RULE CHANGE BY THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION WILL ALLOW MANY FAMILY MEMBERS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS TO AVOID LONG SEPARATIONS FROM FAMILY MEMBERS AS THEY APPLY FOR PERMANENT RESIDENCY IN THE UNITED STATES
BREAKING IMMIGRATION NEWS: Obama Administration To Allow Certain Immediate Relatives Of U.S. Citizens To Obtain Provisional Waivers
By James A. Welcome
NEW IMMIGRATION POLICY: Obama Administration Creates Immigration Provisional Waiver Program For Family Members of U.S. Citizens
In a change that will likely affect tens of thousands of families here in the United States, including thousands here in Connecticut and New York, the Obama Administration will begin to allow applications for provisional waivers. For many years, relatives of U.S. Citizens, including spouses, parents and children of U.S. Citizens have been forced to make a choice if they have lived in the United States illegally for a period of time. This choice required that individuals who have accrued “unlawful presence” from anywhere from six months to a year or more, must return to their native country and apply for an “unlawful presence waiver.” This waiver is necessary for anyone who has entered the United States unlawfully and lived in the United States without authorization for a period of time. Those who have accrued unlawful presence are considered inadmissible. This means that any person who has accrued unlawful presence cannot apply for permanent residency (or a green card) remain in the United States and complete their paperwork here. Instead, they had to follow the arcane punishing step of returning to their native country, apply for a visa there and apply for an unlawful presence visa outside of the United States. This extra step contained much uncertainty and great risk for families living in the United States. It applied to everyone–including people married to U.S. Citizens. There was never a guarantee that a person would even receive a grant of this unlawful presence waiver. The application likelihood varied country by country and it resulted in a great deal of time that immediate relatives would be separated from their families. The length of time that a person could risk being separated from family members was in some cases more than ten years. Now this has all changed and what a great change this is.
Starting on March 3, 2013, Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizens will be allowed to apply for provisional waivers here in the U.S. to help obtain permanent residency prior to returning to their native country. The provisional waivers will require an application on a brand new form as yet to be published–Form I-601A. In order to qualify for the provisional waiver, an immediate relative must demonstrate extreme hardship to their immediate relative that would be caused by any separation. A person is eligible for a provisional waiver if:
1. He or she is an immediate relative of a U.S. Citizen. An immediate relative is a spouse, child or parent of a U.S. Citizen;
2. He or she is inadmissible (or unable to obtain a green card legally in the United States) only on account of the accural of Unlawful Presence; and
3. He or she can demonstrate “extreme hardship” to an immediate relative if the waiver is denied and the applicant is not granted a waiver (and therefore, permanent residency).
Even after this wavier is successful, an applicant is still required to depart the United States under the new rules as they presently exist. The applicant will be required to attend an appointment at the U.S. Consulate in his or native country. It is at this consulate that the applicant will complete the process of applying for permanent residency.
For more information about the new provisional waiver requirements check back here at www.welcomelawfirm.com or visit www.uscis.gov.
This is a fair and welcome policy change by the Department of Homeland Security.
We are here to answer any questions you have and give legal advice concerning this and other legal immigration concerns.