Firm News

Secretary Napolitano Announces Final Rule to Support Family Unity During Waiver Process

Posted by on Jan 3, 2013 in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

Released: Jan. 2, 2013
Contact: DHS Press Office, (202) 282-8010

WASHINGTON— Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano today announced the posting of a final rule in the Federal Register that reduces the time U.S. citizens are separated from their immediate relatives (spouse, children and parents), who are in the process of obtaining visas to become lawful permanent residents of the United States under certain circumstances. The final rule establishes a process that allows certain individuals to apply for a provisional unlawful presence waiver before they depart the United States to attend immigrant visa interviews in their countries of origin. The process will be effective on March 4, 2013 and more information about the filing process will be made available in the coming weeks at www.uscis.gov.

“This final rule facilitates the legal immigration process and reduces the amount of time that U.S. citizens are separated from their immediate relatives who are in the process of obtaining an immigrant visa,” said Secretary Napolitano.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) received more than 4,000 comments in response to the April 2, 2012 proposed rule and considered all of them in preparing the final rule.

“The law is designed to avoid extreme hardship to U.S. citizens, which is precisely what this rule achieves,” USCIS Director Mayorkas said. “The change will have a significant impact on American families by greatly reducing the time family members are separated from those they rely upon.”

Under current law, immediate relatives of U.S. citizens who are not eligible to adjust status in the United States to become lawful permanent residents must leave the U.S. and obtain an immigrant visa abroad. Individuals who have accrued more than six months of unlawful presence while in the United States must obtain a waiver to overcome the unlawful presence inadmissibility bar before they can return to the United States after departing to obtain an immigrant visa. Under the existing waiver process, which remains available to those who do not qualify for the new process, immediate relatives cannot file a waiver application until after they have appeared for an immigrant visa interview abroad and the Department of State has determined that they are inadmissible.

In order to obtain a provisional unlawful presence waiver, the applicant must be an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, inadmissible only on account of unlawful presence, and demonstrate the denial of the waiver would result in extreme hardship to his or her U.S. citizen spouse or parent. USCIS will publish a new form, Form I-601A, Application for a Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver, for individuals to use when applying for a provisional unlawful presence waiver under the new process.

Under the new provisional waiver process, immediate relatives must still depart the United States for the consular immigrant visa process; however, they can apply for a provisional waiver before they depart for their immigrant visa interview abroad. Individuals who file the Form I-601A must notify the Department of State’s National Visa Center that they are or will be seeking a provisional waiver from USCIS. The new process will reduce the amount of time U.S. citizen are separated from their qualifying immediate relatives.

USCIS Proposes Process Change for Certain Waivers of Inadmissibility

Posted by on Apr 11, 2012 in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

Released: March 30, 2012

Proposal would reduce time that U.S. citizens are separated from immediate relatives

WASHINGTON—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today posted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in the Federal Register  that would reduce the time U.S. citizens are separated from their spouses, children, and parents (i.e. immediate relatives) who must obtain an immigrant visa abroad to become lawful permanent residents of the United States. This rule would allow certain immediate relatives of U.S. citizens to apply for a provisional waiver of the unlawful presence ground of inadmissibility while still in the United States if they can demonstrate that being separated from their U.S. citizen spouse or parent would cause that U.S. citizen relative extreme hardship. The proposed rule will not alter how USCIS determines eligibility for a waiver of inadmissibility or how an individual establishes extreme hardship.

“The law is designed to avoid extreme hardship to U.S. citizens, which is precisely what this proposed rule will more effectively achieve,” said USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas. “The current process can subject U.S. citizens to months of separation from family members who are waiting for their cases to be processed overseas.  The proposed change will have tremendous impact on families by significantly reducing the time of separation.”

USCIS also proposes creating a new form for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens who choose to apply for a provisional unlawful presence waiver. Once in effect, this form would be used for individuals filing an application for a provisional unlawful presence application before he or she departs the United States to complete the immigrant visa process at a U.S. Embassy or consulate abroad. The streamlined process would only apply to immediate relatives who are otherwise eligible for an immigrant visa based on an approved immediate relative petition.

The proposed process outlined above is not in effect and is not available until USCIS publishes a final rule with an effective date in the Federal Register. USCIS will consider all public comments on the proposed rule announced today before publishing the final rule in the coming months. Individuals at this time should not to submit an application for a provisional unlawful presence waiver, or allow anyone to submit one on their behalf because it will be rejected.

USCIS encourages the public to submit formal input on the proposed rule through www.regulations.gov during a comment period that runs from April 2, 2012 until June 1, 2012.

A detailed Web page  addressing the proposed rule is currently posted to http://www.uscis.gov/provisionalwaiver. Additional details on the proposed process changes will be available at www.regulations.gov on April 2, 2012.