On March 4, 2013, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (the “USCIS”) will being accepting applications for so-called “unlawful presence waivers,” which will offer new hope for spouses, parents and minor children of U.S. citizens who may be in this country without proper documentation.
Under current law, an individual present in the U.S. illegally for more than 180 days can be barred from returning for three years if they returned home for any reason, even if returning in order to pursue legal entry via immigrant visa. An individual illegally present in the U.S. for one year or more can be barred from returning for an even longer period of 10 years.
As a result, many immediate family members of U.S. citizens who are here illegally live in fear that they can never leave.
But soon these individuals will be able to apply for provisional waivers of unlawful presence, which will allow them to return home to pursue the application of a proper immigrant visa and then come back to their families in the U.S.
In order to obtain the provisional waiver, an applicant will have to prove that a U.S. citizen family member covered by regulation will suffer extreme hardship as a result of separation for a prolonged period. The individual applicant will still have to leave the country and obtain a proper immigrant visa in their home country before returning, and will have to provide the U.S. government with fingerprints for biometric identification.
USCIS will notify applicants when their applications for waivers are approved. Denials cannot be appealed and there will be no right to reopen an application or obtain a rehearing. However, if a request for provisional waiver is denied, then an applicant still pursue a waiver through an I-601 process, which is more involved.
Applicants should know also that the USCIS reserves the right to reconsider on its own motion any kind of approval or denial of a provisional waiver application.
If you need help with a provisional waiver application, or any other kind of immigration matter, please do not hesitate to contact our office at (847)564-0712 for an appointment to speak with a qualified attorney. You can also check out our immigration law Website for more information about how we might assist you.