On January 2, 2013, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano 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
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. United States
“This final rule facilitates the legal immigration process and reduces the amount of time that
citizens are separated from their immediate relatives who are in the process of
obtaining an immigrant visa,” said Secretary Napolitano. U.S.
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
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.” U.S.
Under current law, immediate relatives of
citizens who are not eligible to adjust status in the United States to become lawful permanent
residents must leave the
and obtain an immigrant visa abroad. Individuals who have accrued more than six
months of unlawful presence while in the U.S. United
States must obtain a waiver to overcome the unlawful
presence inadmissibility bar before they can return to the
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. United States
In order to obtain a provisional unlawful presence waiver, the applicant must be an immediate relative of a
citizen, inadmissible only on account of unlawful presence, and demonstrate the
denial of the waiver would result in extreme hardship to his or her 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. U.S.
Under the new provisional waiver process, immediate relatives must still depart the
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
that they are or will be seeking a provisional waiver from USCIS. The new
process will reduce the amount of time National Visa Center citizen are separated from
their qualifying immediate relatives. U.S.