New Proposal would reduce time that U.S. citizens are separated from families
On March 30, 2012 the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) 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 change the existing process where an applicant for a “green card” is required to wait months and sometimes years outside of the U.S. for their waiver to be approved. The proposed rule will allow immediate relatives (defined as spouses and minor children) 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 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 U.S. 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.
It is important to note that 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. 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. For more information on USCIS and its programs and services, please visit www.uscis.gov or follow us on Twitter (@uscis), YouTube (/uscis) and the USCIS blog The Beacon.
Written by: Roberto Gonzalez