New Waiver from Homeland Security

WASHINGTON, D.C., United States
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano announced Jan. 2 a final rule that reduces the time American 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; more information about the filing process will be made available in the coming weeks at
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,” Napolitano stated in a press release.
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 American citizens who are not eligible to adjust status in the United States to become lawful permanent residents must leave the United States 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 an American citizen, inadmissible only on account of unlawful presence, and demonstrate the denial of the waiver would result in extreme hardship to his or her American citizen spouse or parent. 
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, 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 American citizens are separated from their qualifying immediate relatives.
Congressman Mike Honda said this bill reduces the backlog of families trying to reunite with their loved ones, by classifying lawful permanent resident spouses, including same-sex partners, and children as ‘immediate relatives’. It also exempts them from numerical caps on family immigration.\


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