Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been getting many inquiries about a new USCIS proposal on “provisional waivers.” Our potential clients are confused thinking that an immigration reform or immigration amnesty had been proposed or passed. Below, you’ll find a summary of the “provisional waiver”proposal and learn why it is NOT an immigration reform.
On January 6, 2012 USCIS announced a proposal to streamline the application process for the spouses and children of US citizens currently eligible for legal permanent residency (green card). This proposal will minimize the amount of time that applicants would have to be separated from their US-based families.
Current process. Thousands of persons who have qualifying US citizen relatives must leave the US to obtain their lawful permanent residency (green card), but as soon as they leave, they are immediately barred from re-entering for 3 or 10 years if they have been unlawfully present in the U.S. for more than 180 days. Many are eligible for an “extreme hardship” waiver, but under current rules, the waiver can only be applied for from overseas. Since the extreme hardship waiver application process takes years many eligible applicants do not apply for legal permanent resident status (green card), choosing to remain in the US unlawfully rather than risk lengthy separation from their US-based families.
Proposed process. A provisional waiver application may be submitted in the US and the applicant may continue to wait in the US until a decision is made. If it is granted, the visa applicant may proceed to a visa interview outside of the US. To qualify for the provisional waiver, it will still be necessary to establish extreme hardship, but the qualifying hardship will be limited to a US citizen parent or spouse. The “provisional waiver” proposal recognizes that there is no practical reason for forcing spouses and children of US citizens to wait overseas for years while their application for a waiver is pending.
We would like to emphasize that the “provisional waiver” is merely a proposal at this time, it is not yet in place. Be vigilant and avoid becoming a victim of immigration scams claiming that an immigration amnesty or immigration reform has been passed!