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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 www.ailalawyer.com 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

www.RubyPowersLaw.com

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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

www.RubyPowersLaw.com


Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver announcement – January 3, 2013

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Consular Processing, I-601 Waivers, Immigration Trends, Legislative Reform, State and Local Immigration Rules Leave a comment

After a year of waiting all of 2012, we have it folks! The provisional unlawful presence waiver is being published today, January 3, 2013 and will become effective on March 4, 2013 (60 days later).

For more info

Secretary Napolitano Announces Final Rule to Support Family Unity During Waiver Process

Release Date:
January 2, 2013

For Immediate Release
DHS Press Office
Contact: 202-282-8010

WASHINGTON—Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano today announced the posting of a final rule in the Federal Register that reduces the time U.S. citizens are separated from their immediate relatives (spouse, children and parents), who are in the process of obtaining visas to become lawful permanent residents of the United States under certain circumstances. The final rule establishes a process that allows certain individuals to apply for a provisional unlawful presence waiver before they depart the United States to attend immigrant visa interviews in their countries of origin. The process will be effective on March 4, 2013 and more information about the filing process will be made available in the coming weeks at http://www.uscis.gov/.

“This final rule facilitates the legal immigration process and reduces the amount of time that U.S. citizens are separated from their immediate relatives who are in the process of obtaining an immigrant visa,” said Secretary Napolitano.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) received more than 4,000 comments in response to the April 2, 2012 proposed rule and considered all of them in preparing the final rule.

“The law is designed to avoid extreme hardship to U.S. citizens, which is precisely what this rule achieves,” USCIS Director Mayorkas said. “The change will have a significant impact on American families by greatly reducing the time family members are separated from those they rely upon.”

Under current law, immediate relatives of U.S. citizens who are not eligible to adjust status in the United States to become lawful permanent residents must leave the U.S. and obtain an immigrant visa abroad. Individuals who have accrued more than six months of unlawful presence while in the United States must obtain a waiver to overcome the unlawful presence inadmissibility bar before they can return to the United States after departing to obtain an immigrant visa. Under the existing waiver process, which remains available to those who do not qualify for the new process, immediate relatives cannot file a waiver application until after they have appeared for an immigrant visa interview abroad and the Department of State has determined that they are inadmissible. 

In order to obtain a provisional unlawful presence waiver, the applicant must be an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, 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. USCIS will publish a new form, Form I-601A, Application for a Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver, for individuals to use when applying for a provisional unlawful presence waiver under the new process.

Under the new provisional waiver process, immediate relatives must still depart the United States for the consular immigrant visa process; however, they can apply for a provisional waiver before they depart for their immigrant visa interview abroad. Individuals who file the Form I-601A must notify the Department of State’s National Visa Center that they are or will be seeking a provisional waiver from USCIS. The new process will reduce the amount of time U.S. citizen are separated from their qualifying immediate relatives. Details on the process changes are available at http://www.regulations.gov/.

For more information, visit www.uscis.gov.


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