(713) 589-2085 Call now to schedule a consultation. Schedule a Consultation →

The Expected Expansion of the Provisional Waiver (I-601A)

Posted on by Ruby Powers in citizenship, Consular Processing, Deportation, I-601 Waivers, I-601A Waivers, Immigration Law, Immigration Trends, pathway to citizenship Leave a comment

The Expected Expansion of the Provisional Waiver (I-601A)

By Board Certified Immigration Attorney Ruby L. Powers

November 4, 2015

The Provisional Waiver (I-601A) process currently allows certain people who are present in the United States to request from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) a provisional waiver for certain unlawful presence grounds of inadmissibility prior to departing from the United States for consular processing of their immigrant visas—rather than applying for a waiver abroad after the immigrant visa interview using the Form I-601, Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposes to expand eligibility for provisional waivers to include aliens in all statutorily eligible immigrant visa categories, including family-sponsored immigrants, employment-based immigrants, certain special immigrants, and Diversity Visa program selectees, together with their derivative spouses and children.  It also proposes expanding who may be considered a qualifying relative for purpose of the extreme hardship determination to include legal permanent resident spouses and parents.  This has a far reaching scope and is a refreshing positive change in light of deadlocked reform and executive actions being held in litigation all year.

Before the existing and more limited provisional waiver rule was implemented in March 4, 2013, many families had to be separated for 4 to 18 months to complete a legal permanent residency process via consular processing due to an illegal entry or other grounds of inadmissibility. Before the provisional waiver, clients might have been able to stay in Mexico only 4 months due to the generous pilot program in Cd. Juarez, Mexico or in some cases wait 18 months in Honduras or longer, if an appeal was sought and in other countries there were inconsistent waiting times. Obviously, there were hesitations for families to proceed with this process for legalization.

Then the idea of the Provisional Waiver was formulated as a way to allow certain family members to apply for the waiver in the U.S., and prevent waiting and separation times abroad. The concept was proposed in January 2012 and initially opened for Federal Register comment period on January 9, 2012 and again April 2, 2012. The rule was announced January 3, 2013 and began 60 days later, on March 4, 2013.

After the Provisional Waiver program began, the Law Office of Ruby L. Powers has been able to help countless families gain legal permanent residency for family members who only need to remain out of the country for 2 to 4 weeks, sometimes for less time, to complete their consular processing. From fiscal years 2013 to 2015, 74,439 waivers were filed and of those 44,198 waivers were approved and 18,773 waivers were denied.  It was such a success that the DHS would like to expand it to people in all statutorily eligible immigrant visa categories and expand the qualifying member for the waiver to spouses and citizens of legal permanent residents as well.

On November 20, 2014, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson issued a memorandum, “Expansion of the Provisional Waiver Program,” directing U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to amend its regulations to expand access to the provisional waiver program, to provide additional guidance on the definition of “extreme hardship,” and to “consider criteria by which a presumption of extreme hardship may be determined to exist.”

Currently DHS is proposing to expand eligibility for provisional waivers to include as qualifying relatives, who can establish extreme hardship, an LPR spouse or parent, not just to U.S. citizen spouses or parents, as it currently stands.  This would be in the interests of encouraging eligible aliens to complete the visa process abroad, promoting family unity, and improving administrative efficiency. The expansion of the provisional waiver program would be a welcome change. The hardships suffered by preference category families, who face the same lengthy separation from loved ones when they seek legal permanent resident status, are as equally compelling as those suffered by immediate relatives. Opening up the provisional waiver process to these individuals will offer more measurable benefits to USCIS and DOS, will further facilitate legal immigration by encouraging a more sizable group to come out of the shadows, and comports with USCIS’s goal of alleviating unnecessary familial hardships.                 On July 22, 2015, the Federal Register opened a 60-day public comment period on the expansion of the provisional waiver which ended September 21, 2015. As we see, the previous provisional waiver had two comment periods and took a year of discussion that was noted to the public. In this case, the expansion was noted nearly a year ago on November 20, 2014 and we greatly hope the rule will be in place in early 2016.

Additionally, the new rule may have a more concise definition of extreme hardship, the standard one must meet for a successful provisional waiver.  This will allow legal practitioners to save their clients time and money by telling them what specific type of evidence is required to prove extreme hardship and accordingly streamline the process and shorten the processing times for cases filed meeting the new guidelines. Currently there are only a few cases that hold guidance and a large room for discretion which can cause varying results in the applications and outcomes.

If you may know someone who could benefit from this expanded provisional waiver, although it is not a rule yet, it is helpful to have a consultation with a qualified immigration attorney.  Ideally, learn if the attorney and their firm have extensive experience with waivers. It is important to plan in advance in case freedom of information act requests, FBI background checks, and collection of other documents are necessary. Additionally, in many cases certain processes would need to be started with requisite wait times before the waiver process may begin. In some cases, preparation, research and strategy take time. Once this rule is in effect, many people will be searching for help to see how it could benefit them.

Furthermore, we would like to warn you and others about the use of people who practice law without a license. In Texas, people often called ‘notarios’ frequently persuade people needing immigration legal services that the process is simple and an attorney is not needed. In the process, they are acting illegally by providing legal advice without a license and many times put people in difficult situations that are hard to correct.

The Law Office of Ruby L. Powers has had continued success with waiver and provisional waivers reuniting families from many countries.   I regularly speak locally and nationwide on the topic of waivers and am regularly consulted by other attorneys on problem cases. We have a team with many years of immigration, consular processing, and waiver experience specific to this article’s topic. We pride ourselves in quality service and helping guide clients through the arduous process to a reunification, peace of mind, greater financial and emotional stability and an improved life in the United States.

Six Things You Need to Know about Stateside Processing of I-601A Waivers

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Consular Processing, I-601A Waivers, Immigration Law, Immigration Trends, Legislative Reform Leave a comment

Author: Laura Lichter on 01/04/2013


Starting March 4, 2013, certain relatives of American citizens who are in the country illegally and need a waiver of unlawful presence before being eligible for a green card can get a decision on their casebefore leaving the United States.

For those who can take advantage of the new rule, this means peace of mind, knowing that their loved one is likely to successfully complete the immigration process and not be stranded in a foreign country for an unknown length of time.  For some, however, the new rule will do nothing to resolve their immigration issues.

1.      What is the new rule and how can it help my family?

Under current law, many immigrants who enter the country illegally or overstay their visas cannot apply for permanent residence (a “green card”) in the U.S., and instead must finish the immigration process abroad.  Unfortunately, just leaving the country—even to pick up a visa sponsored by a family member—automatically makes the intending immigrant subject to a penalty for their “unlawful presence,” potentially separating them from their family for up to ten years.

For some, but not all, the penalty can be waived.  Before this new rule, immigrants could be stranded outside the country for weeks, months or even years while waiting for a decision on whether they could return to their life in the United States. And all that time, the immigrant was stuck abroad, usually with no legal way to return.  Many families endured the emotional strain, financial hardship and dangerous conditions. Others simply were unwilling to take the risk.

The new rule means that many immigrants will leave the United States, knowing in advance that their case will probably be approved, and they could be back with their families—as a legal resident—in a matter of days.

2.      Who can apply under the new rule?

Only applicants who are an immediate relative of a US citizen (spouses, parents and certain children) can apply at this time, though the rule may later be expanded to other relatives.

The applicant must be physically present in the United States, and not already have a scheduled interview at a U.S. consulate abroad.  Also, the provisional waiver is only available if the sole issue holding up a case is unlawful presence.  Applicants who have criminal issues or other immigration violations cannot use the provisional procedure.

Individuals who are in immigration court or who have an order of removal or voluntary departure may not qualify unless they get special permission from the government and a court order resolving their case.

To be successful, applicants must show that denying the case would be an extreme hardship to their qualifying relative(s); the impact on the immigrant doesn’t count.  Hardship factors can include family separation, economic hardship, medical issues, country conditions abroad, and any other difficulty or harm faced by the qualifying relative(s), if the waiver isn’t granted.

3.      What does it mean that the waiver is “provisional?”

Even if a waiver is granted, the approval is “provisional.”  As a practical matter, this means that the government has reviewed the case and believes that the waiver should be granted, but there is no guarantee that a case will be successful if facts change or new information comes to light.  For example, if an applicant had previous immigration violations or criminal history, the provisional waiver will be revoked.

If any new issues arise, and the applicant is still eligible for a waiver, he or she will be able to re-apply using the existing process, but will have to wait abroad for a decision on their case.

4.      When can I apply?

The new rule goes into effect on March 4, 2013, and no filings will be accepted before that date. You can only apply for a provisional waiver after an immigrant petition has been approved.  If you haven’t filed yet or you’re still waiting for a decision on a pending petition, you can’t apply for the provisional waiver—yet.

5.      What else do I need to know about provisional waivers?

A provisional waiver is not a legal status, and even an approved waiver doesn’t provide work authorization, a social security number or a driver’s license. Having a provisional waiver will not protect you from deportation or any other consequences of being in the country illegally.

If an application for a provisional waiver is denied, there is no appeal.  If you have more or better evidence to prove your case, you can re-file, with a new filing fee. Remember, not everyone can be sponsored or qualify for a waiver, and just as importantly, not everyoneneeds a waiver.

6.      Do I need to work with an attorney?

The immigration process can take months, even years, and government filing fees and other expenses are significant—it’s best to know your options before investing time and money.  A thorough legal consultation should look at all aspects of your immigration history to find the best solution for your family, not just evaluate eligibility for a provisional waiver.

Always work with a licensed immigration attorney.  Never trust legal advice from an unregulated consultant or notario. Consider consulting with an experienced immigration lawyer before starting the process to make sure that you qualify, and that stateside waiver processing is the best solution for your immigration case.

Additional Resources

Always turn to reputable sources for immigration advice and information about new developments. Finding an AILA lawyer is a good place to start. Members listed on meet legal education and malpractice insurance requirements, and have been AILA members for at least two years.

AILA Immigration Lawyer Referral Service

AILA Resources for Stateside Waivers

USCIS Resources on Provisional Waivers

Consumer Protection for Victims of Immigration or Notario Fraud

Written by Laura Lichter, AILA President

Immigration Law: Provisional Waiver Rule Effective March 4, 2013

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Consular Processing, I-601 Waivers, Immigration Law, Immigration Trends, Legislative Reform 15 Comments

The Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver has officially been approved and we expect it to be in motion no later than March 4, 2013. The public comment period on the regulation ended on June 1, 2012 and the final rule was published in the Federal Register on January 3, 2013. The Provisional Waiver Rule was announced by the Department of Homeland Security.


The waiver serves to substantially reduce the period of time that immigrants, who either entered without inspection or overstayed their visas, will have to spend apart from their families after applying for immigrant visas and a waiver of inadmissibility to the United States for unlawful presence. Prior to the most recent rule, the majority of immigrants who had been deemed ineligible for admissibility into the United States were required to return to their country of origin where they could possibly remain for months or even years while waiting for the approval of a waiver of inadmissibility, causing severe distress to family members left in the United States.


Now, via the Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver, immigrants who are inadmissible due to unlawful presence in the United States may remain in the United States while their request for a waiver of inadmissibility is being processed. According to USCIS regulation, “the applicant must be an immediate relative of a U.S. inadmissible only on account of unlawful presence, and demonstrate the denial of the waiver would result in extreme hardship to his or her U.S. citizen spouse or parent.”  Immigrants will not be required to return to their country of origin until, either their waiver has been approved, in which case they will need to return in order to attend their consular interview and obtain their visa, or that waiver is denied. Presently, immigrants deemed inadmissible for any reasons other than unlawful presence [fraud, criminal activity, etc…] are ineligible for the Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver.


Further details on the process change can be found on the regulations website.

Ruby L. Powers

Immigration Attorney with a focus on I-601 and I-601A waivers

Law Office of Ruby L. Powers


Ley de Inmigración: Regla de Perdón Provisional efectiva a partir del 4 de Marzo del 2003

El Perdón Provisional por presencia ilegal ha sido oficialmente aprobado y se espera tome  efecto a más tardar el 4 de Marzo del 2013. El periodo de comentarios públicos sobre esta norma terminó el 1ro de Junio del 2012 y la norma definitiva fue publicada en el Registro Federal el 3 de Enero del 2013. La Regla de Perdón Provisional fue anunciada por el Departamento de Seguridad  Nacional.  

El perdón sirve para reducir substancialmente el periodo de tiempo que un inmigrante que o bien ingreso al país sin inspección o permaneció en este con una visa expirada, debe permanecer lejos de su familia después de haber solicitado una visa de inmigrante y un perdón de inadmisibilidad en los Estados Unidos por presencia ilegal. Con anterioridad a la norma más reciente, la mayoría de los inmigrantes que habían sido considerados no elegibles para admisibilidad en los Estados Unidos estaban obligados a regresar a su país de origen, donde podrían permanecer durante meses o incluso años a la espera de la aprobación de un perdón de inadmisibilidad, causando grave sufrimiento a los miembros de la familia que permanecían en los Estados Unidos.

Ahora a través del Perdón Provisional por Presencia Ilegal, los inmigrantes inadmisibles por presencia ilegal a los Estados Unidos pueden permanecer en el país mientras su solicitud de perdón es procesada. De acuerdo con  las reglas del USCIS, “el solicitante debe ser un familiar  directo de un inadmisible en los Estados Unidos solo por causa de presencia ilegal y debe demostrar que la denegación del perdón resultaría en graves dificultades para su conyugué o padre ciudadano(a) de los Estados Unidos”.

Los inmigrantes no serán obligados a regresar a su país de origen hasta que, o bien sus perdones hayan sido aprobados, en cuyo caso deberán regresar para asistir a su entrevista consular y obtener su visa, o su perdón sea negado.  En la actualidad, los inmigrantes considerados inadmisibles por cualquier otra razón que la presencia ilegal (fraude, actividad ilegal, etc…) no son ilegibles para un Perdón Provisional de Presencial Ilegal.   

Para más detalles sobre el proceso de cambio favor de visitar el sitio web de regulaciones.

Ruby L. Powers

Abogada de Inmigración especialista en perdones I-601 y I-601A.

Oficina Jurídica de Ruby L. Powers

Benefits of Deferred Action – Thoughts from the week of August 15, 2012

Posted on by Ruby Powers in DREAM Act, Immigration Law, Immigration Trends, Legislative Reform Leave a comment

On the afternoon of June 15, 2012, we had heard a very exciting announcement. On June 16, 2012, I had my 31st birthday which is great because that is the age cut off for deferred action so I can remember that date/age easily.  We then tried to get ready for USCIS’s program, 60 days later. We started pre-screening potential clients and telling them to start collecting documents to prove entry, continuous residence, no criminal history, etc.

Now that the forms were provided on August 14th and the program started on Wednesday, August 15, 2012, the firm has been very busy, like most other immigration firms.  But what I am the most excited about, is that often in these consultations, I find that people qualify for consular processing/waivers and would benefit from the provisional waiver rule which has been promised to be available by the end of 2012 or qualify for marriage-based adjustment and could have their green card in about 3 months if they just applied in country.

I explain to potential clients that Deferred Action is NOT a legal status and should not be PLAN A for a path to legal permanent residency or citizenship. In fact, it isn’t guaranteed and if they obtain it, it is only good for 2 years. It reminds me a lot of Temporary Protected Status, no legal status but work authorization and renewed every few years.

After lots of consultations this week, I am most grateful because it is making people really think about their status and options and hopefully to talk to a qualifed immigration attorney about their case in detail.

We are holding Skype and phone consultations every day of the week right now from 7am-1pm CST. We will have in person consultations starting September 10th, most M-F 9am-5pm.  Before a consultation, a potential client schedules a time, pays the $50 fee online, completes our Deferred Action intake form on our Consultation page, and then faxes or emails any criminal record or key document to their case in advance so I can review it in conjunction with their intake form answers and the consultation.

If a potential client wants to hire us, we send a contract via email for their review with payment information and then when we receive the payment and signed contract, we send the client a list of documents and questionnaire.

We are grateful that the estimated 800,000 to 1.2 million people in the US may qualify for work authorization and peace of mind from immigration detention.  We do hope that people take this time to address what many are afraid to talk or think about, their immigration status.

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

Ruby L. Powers

Houston Immigration Attorney

Twelve Things to consider about the Provisional Waiver – I-601A waiver

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Consular Processing, I-601 Waivers, Immigration Trends, Legislative Reform, Processing of Applications and Petitions Leave a comment

Twelve Things to consider about the Provisional Waiver – I-601A waiver 

Law Office of Ruby L. Powers – Immigration Law Firm focused on Waivers

  1. It is not yet available (as of April 2012), but everything points to it being available later in the year.
  2. You must already have an approved I-130 or I-360. It can’t be pending.
  3. If you are in removal proceedings, DHS is still considering how to address provisional waiver requests from individuals in removal proceedings.
  4. The standard of hardship for I-601 waivers will be the same for I-601A waivers.
  5. It only waives the unlawful presence bar that would be triggered upon leaving the US, thus no guarantee of readmission.
  6. Once approved, you still have to leave the US to attend the visa appointment.
  7. It does not provide lawful status while pending.
  8. It does not stop the accrual of unlawful presence (used in calculation of the bar).
  9. It provides no interim benefits like an EAD (employment authorization) or advance parole.
  10. Unlike the I-601 waiver, the I-601A is only for spouses and children of US citizens.
  11. Unlike the I-601 waiver which covers other ground of inadmissibility, the I-601A will only cover unlawful presence inadmissibility.
  12. We are all excited about this making the wait for family members a lot less!

I-601 Waiver Immigration Attorney Ruby L. Powers – April 12, 2012

Provisional Unlawful Presence Waivers – March 30, 2012 – I-601A waiver

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Consular Processing, I-601 Waivers, Immigration Trends, Legislative Reform, Processing of Applications and Petitions Leave a comment

Reminder: This proposed process is not in effect. To learn more, read this alert.

What USCIS Proposes

On March 30, 2012, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) posted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in the Federal Register requesting public comment on its plan to create an alternative process for certain immediate relatives of U.S. citizens to apply for and receive 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 goal of the proposed process change is to reduce the time that U.S. citizens are separated from their immediate relatives while those family members go through the consular process overseas to obtain an immigrant visa.

Why We Propose It

Currently, immediate relatives of U.S. citizens who have accrued a certain period of unlawful presence in the United States are barred from returning to the United States for as long as 3 or 10 years if they leave the country. Immediate relatives can obtain a waiver of the unlawful presence bar if they show that a U.S. citizen spouse or parent will experience extreme hardship if they are required to remain outside the United States. The immediate relative also would have to show that they warrant a favorable exercise of discretion.   But in order to obtain the waiver, these individuals must depart the United States and wait abroad while the waiver is processed.

Under the current process, therefore, U.S. citizens suffer unnecessarily long periods of separation while family members go through consular processing overseas to obtain an immigrant visa. The proposed process change lessens the length of separation by reducing inefficiencies in the current immigrant visa process. USCIS believes that this proposed change will streamline the immigrant visa process for immediate relatives whose only ground of inadmissibility is unlawful presence. USCIS plans to adjudicate the provisional waiver application in the United States before the immediate relative departs for his or her immigrant visa interview, which will reduce the length of time immediate relatives must spend abroad for consular processing.

What the Proposed Process Would Do

Under the proposed process, immediate relatives of U.S. citizens who would need a waiver of unlawful presence in order to obtain an immigrant visa could file a new Form I-601A, Application for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver, before leaving the United States to obtain an immigrant visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. All individuals eligible for this streamlined process are still required to depart the United States and must meet all legal requirements for issuance of an immigrant visa and admission to the United States.

An individual may seek a provisional unlawful presence waiver if he or she:

  • Is physically present in the United States;
  • Is at least 17 years of age;
  • Is the beneficiary of an approved immigrant visa petition (I-130) classifying him or her as an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen;
  • Is actively pursuing the immigrant visa process and has already paid the Department of State immigrant visa processing fee;
  • Is not subject to any other grounds of inadmissibility other than unlawful presence; and
  • Can demonstrate that the refusal of admission would result in extreme hardship to a U.S. citizen spouse or parent.

An immediate relative would not be eligible for the proposed process if he or she:

  • Has an application already pending with USCIS for adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident;
  • Is subject to a final order of removal or reinstatement of a prior removal order;
  • May be found inadmissible at the time of the consular interview for reasons other than unlawful presence; or
  • Has already been scheduled for an immigrant visa interview at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad.

Allowing immediate relatives of U.S. citizens to receive provisional waivers in the United States before departure for their immigrant visa interview at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate means that:

  • Immigrant visa processing times will improve because of greater capacity in the United States and fewer case transfers between USCIS and the Department of State;
  • Immigrant visas will be issued without unnecessary delay (if the individual is otherwise eligible); and
  • The period of separation and hardship many U.S. citizens would face due to prolonged separation from their family members will be minimized.

Next Steps

This new process will be implemented only after USCIS publishes a final rule in the Federal Register with an effective date. USCIS will consider all comments received as part of the proposed rulemaking process before publishing the final rule. The current waiver process remains in place and will continue to remain for those who may not be eligible for a provisional waiver.

DO NOT file an application or request a provisional waiver at this time. Any applications filed with USCIS based on this NPRM will be rejected and the application package returned to the applicant, including any fees, until the final rule is issued and the change becomes effective.

For additional information, please see our I-601A Questions and Answers document, linked at the upper-right side of this page.

This page can be found at:



Google Plus