The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) made public its plan to propose an immigration reform that is promising to many families in which a member, most commonly a spouse, is an illegal immigrant.
Currently, a U.S. citizen can petition a relative for an immigrant visa even if they are living unlawfully in the U.S. However, if the relative has entered the United States illegally or has been in the U.S. for more than 180 days without status, he or she cannot be granted an adjustment of status to U.S. permanent resident.
The remedy will be to seek a waiver for the unlawful presence so that obtaining a visa is still possible. To receive the waiver, the USCIS must determine that separation would cause “extreme hardship” for the U.S. citizens in the immigrant’s family.
Unfortunately, right now, the waiver can only be filed at a U.S. consulate, after the intending immigrant has left the U.S. Because of this rule, the immigrant must wait in his or her home country for the waiver to be granted and then for the visa processing — a procedure that often takes years (if granted at all).
The current proposal is to allow the immigrant to request and receive a “provisional decision” on the waiver before leaving the U.S. to wait for visa processing. This would greatly reduce the time the immigrant must spend waiting abroad separated from his or her family in the U.S. and eliminate any anxiety on whether the waiver will be granted or not.
This is indeed encouraging news for the immigrants and their families. This pending proposal shows the USCIS has the best interest of both immigrants and their American families in mind, and is moving toward a more efficient immigration process. To learn more about your legal options regarding immigration, please do not hesitate to contact Lubiner, Schmidt & Palumbo at (888) 847-2529.