We’ve teamed up with an attorney to provide a basic Q&A session for everyone in the community who thinks they may be eligible for an unlawful presence waiver that could finally get them lawful permanent residence in the United States. A free live video chat with an attorney will be held this Friday at 2pm EST to answer your questions about the new rule. Please submit them ahead of time at firstname.lastname@example.org. The chat will be broadcast here and a video will be available soon thereafter for those who cannot view the live chat.
Briefly, the USCIS has finally published the much-awaited rule on the unlawful presence waiver (I-601A), which will take effect on March 4, 2013. The new waiver process will allow the immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, namely spouses and children, to apply for a provisional unlawful presence waiver while they are still in the United States and before they leave to attend their immigrant visa interview abroad.
Under the old rule, applicants who are not eligible to adjust status in the U.S. to become lawful permanent residents must leave the U.S. and obtain an immigrant visa and unlawful presence waiver abroad. The current process involved a long wait and a lot of uncertainty as the applicant had to prove extreme hardship to U.S. citizen parent or spouse in order to win a waiver for unlawful presence to get back to the United States. The new process is intended to reduce the reluctance of non-citizens who may wish to obtain a green card through their marriage to U.S. citizens or relationship to a U.S. citizen parent, because the applicant would no longer be deterred by lengthy separation and uncertainty of success imposed by the process.
Under the new rule, an applicant must meet all of these requirements to qualify for the waiver:
- Applicant must be present in the U.S. at the time they file for the waiver;
- Applicant must prove hardship to U.S. citizen spouse or parent;
- Applicant must be barred from readmission based only on unlawful presence in the U.S. and have no other grounds of inadmissibility;
- Applicant must be a beneficiary of an approved immediate relative petition;
- Applicant must have a case pending with the Department of State based on the approved immediate relative petition and paid the immigrant visa processing fee;
- Applicant must depart from the United States to obtain the immediate relative immigrant visa; and
- Applicant must be able to prove extreme hardship to her or his U.S. citizen spouse or parent.
The new procedure does not take effect until March 4, 2013. Before filing any waiver application, it is advisable that you consult with an immigration lawyer.