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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

DHS Released Proposed Rule for Stateside Waiver Processing

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No, it's not an amnesty. DHS is now allowing people who are eligible for immigrant visas but subject to an overstay bar requiring a waiver to wait in the US while their waiver is processed rather than having to wait the six to twelve months abroad. The American Immigration Lawyers Association had this to say -

AILA Commends DHS Decision to Amend Immigration Waiver Process

New Rule Change will Help Reduce the Time Spouses and Children Are Separated From U.S. Citizen Relatives While They Complete the Process for Legal Status in the United States

WASHINGTON, DC - The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) commends the Department of Homeland Security's proposed rule that would change its processes to enable spouses and children of U.S. citizens physically present in the United States to apply within the U.S. for the waiver they need to become U.S. permanent residents. The current procedure requires the spouse or child to leave the United States, file the waiver application in the home country, and wait for processing while separated from their U.S. citizen loved ones.

If adopted, the rule would permit immediate family of U.S. citizens to apply for a provisional waiver of unlawful presence while remaining in the U.S., thereby minimizing the time they would be separated from their families during the process. To obtain the waiver, applicants must still meet the strict letter of the law which requires them to prove that family separation will cause their American citizen spouse or parent extreme hardship. 

If the waiver is granted, the foreign national must leave the U.S. and apply for and receive an immigrant visa abroad before returning to the U.S. The change will give countless American families a chance to stay together safely and legally. 

"Today's proposed rule change, permitting the waiver request to be decided stateside, is a positive step for keeping families together. It would result in a significant change in process for many individuals and, if implemented, will literally save lives. People have been kidnapped and murdered waiting for waivers in Juarez, Mexico, and other countries," said Eleanor Pelta, President of AILA. "It's a move that will be less destructive to families and bring about a fairer and more streamlined waiver process.  

"Unfortunately USCIS's plan would exclude many people who are stuck in the same situation. That doesn't make any sense," Pelta continued. "The proposed rule only applies to a limited group of applicants, namely the immediate relatives of U.S. citizens who can show extreme hardship to a U.S. citizen spouse or parent. This leaves out broad categories of close family members who also have to wait abroad for their waiver, including the spouses and children of people who have green cards and the adult children of U.S. citizens." In February, AILA, joined by over 40 other organizations, offered several recommendations to improve the provisional waiver plan. AILA will also submit formal comments during the 60-day comment period.   


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