New Changes Ahead In Immigration Law: Provisional Waiver For Unlawful Presence
The Obama administration’s decision this week to ease visa requirements for immediate relatives of US citizens who entered the country without permission become its latest move to reshape immigration through executive action. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a new regulation, which will become effective on March 4, 2013.
Currently, immigration law provides that any person who arrives to the U.S. without an immigration status for more than one hundred eighty (180) days and leaves the country, receives a penalty of a three (3) year bar to re-enter the country. If the person stays more than one (1) year, then he/she receives a bar of ten (10) years.
Under past practice, an individual applied for the waiver after having been found inadmissible by a consular official and then had to apply to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for a waiver. Departure from the United States in many cases triggers a three (3) to ten (10) year bar to re-entering the country, which requires a separate waiver application.
Inevitably this caused a family separation because when the person left the United States, he/she could be stranded outside the country for weeks, months and even years waiting for a decision on whether they could return to his/her life in the United States. And all that time, usually were trapped abroad unable to return legally.
Basically, these new regulations will mean that many immigrants will leave the United States, knowing in advance that their case will probably be approved, and they could be back with their families—as a legal resident—in a matter of days.
This new procedure will provide for those who illegally entered the United States to start part of the process in order to request the waiver of three (3) to ten (10) year bar. The provisional waiver is only available if the sole issue holding up a case is unlawful presence. Applicants who have criminal issues or other immigration violations cannot use the provisional procedure. However, the Department of Homeland Security did not rule out the possibility of extending it to other groups subject to an assessment of the effectiveness of the current program.
To be successful, applicants must show that denying the case would be an extreme hardship to their qualifying relative(s); the impact on the immigrant doesn’t count. Factors to be considered, economic problems, medical problems, the conditions of the country abroad, and any difficulty or danger facing the qualifying relative if the waiver is not approved.
It is advisable that before rushing to complete the application beginning on March 4, 2013 to consult an immigration attorney in Puerto Rico who will make a comprehensive assessment of your immigration history to find the best solution for your case.
Any questions you can write in the box that appears below or call Attorney María Isabelle Ramos Artunduaga at (787) 998-6222 for a free initial legal advice.