USCIS Proposal to Change Processing for Certain Waivers


USCIS recently posted a Notice of Intent in the Federal Register proposing bringing about a change to its current filing process and arriving at a decision on waivers of inadmissibility relating to unlawful presence. This proposal is aimed at allowing certain persons who wish to get permanent residence through their US citizen immediate relatives to apply for waivers of inadmissibility before leaving the US for their interview at a US Consulate abroad.

The proposal is to reduce the time that US citizens are separated from their spouses and children when those family members go through the process of becoming legal residents in the US. The current process is such that, spouses and children of US citizens who have accumulated a certain period of unlawful presence in the US, and have to leave the country per the law, are barred from returning to their families for 3 or 10 years. In such case, they can get a waiver that would help them unite with their families. They have to prove that their US citizen family member would be subject to extreme hardship due to the separation. The main idea of the USCIS is to process the waiver applications in the US before the family faces separation. Remember that only immigrants eligible for a visa will fit into this process.

Per the proposal, spouses and children of US citizens who qualify for a visa to enter the US, but who need a waiver of inadmissibility for their unlawful presence to get that visa expeditiously, will apply for a provisional waiver before leaving the US to have their immigrant visa application processed at a US Consulate overseas. If you are affected by this streamlined process, you have to meet all legal requirements for admission to the US, that also includes processing the visa application at a US consulate abroad.

If you currently qualify for a waiver of inadmissibility, and can prove that the separation from your US citizen spouse or parent would result in extreme hardship, you can apply for a waiver while still in the US. By permitting such persons to apply for waivers in the US, it would become a more transparent process resulting in improved processing times and reducing the separation of US citizens from their families.

This new proposal is also aimed at efficient processing by both USCIS and the Department of State (DOS) when dealing through these waiver requests. This change will help individuals who may qualify for a waiver of inadmissibility in seeking lawful readmission to the US by limiting the amount of time they would need to spend away from their US citizen spouse or parent.

The USCIS has also decided to coordinate with the Department of State to develop the outlined process in greater detail. USCIS has also decided to publish a notice of proposed rule and allow public comments for it. A final rule will then be formulated on the implementation.

Note that the proposed rule will not alter the existing standard for judging whether denial of the waiver would result in extreme hardship to the US citizen spouse or parent of such persons. It would only alter the process by which such applications may be filed and accepted by USCIS for further processing.

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