USCIS to expand the Provisional Waiver program August 29, 2016

Great news! U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services has announced that they intend to expand the 2013 Provisional Waiver program to persons that have spouses and/or parents that are Legal Permanent Residents with a new Form I-601A to go into effect August 29, 2016. Most persons that have entered the U.S. illegally or have overstayed their permission to remain in the U.S. (unless they have a U.S. citizen child or spouse) usually are not permitted to obtain permanent residence in the U.S. Instead, they usually have to depart the U.S. and apply for an immigrant visa abroad.

The main problem is that when a visa applicant departs the U.S. after 180 days/1 year of unlawful presence in the U.S., they trigger a 3-year or 5-year bar to reentry. Since 1997, the applicant is allowed to seek a waiver to return before that period if they can demonstrate hardship to a qualifying family member. However, before 2013, the applicant had to leave the U.S. before filing the waiver with no certainty that they would be coming back to the U.S. anytime soon. In 2013, DHS announced that it would be allowing spouses and children of U.S. citizens to seek a provisional waiver prior to leaving the U.S. to ensure family unity and minimize the time apart that families would face with this process. However, at the time this process did not extend to spouses/children of Legal Permanent Residents. That will now change--effective August 29, 2016, spouses and children of Legal Permanent Residents will be permitted to file a provisional waiver in the U.S. as well. We look forward to this change and commend DHS on implementing this new regulation.

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