Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizens No Longer Have to Wait Outside the U.S. to Obtain a Waiver of Unlawful Presence

Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizens No Longer Have to Wait Outside the U.S. to Obtain a Waiver of Unlawful Presence

On January 3, 2013, the Department of Homeland Security published a regulation that allows immediate relatives of U.S. citizens (i.e. spouses, parents, and children) who entered the U.S. without inspection to apply for and obtain a provisional waiver of inadmissibility before they travel abroad to attend their immigrant visa ("Green Card") appointment. Under previous law, immediate relatives of U.S. citizens who had accrued more than six months of unlawful presence while in the U.S. had to not only travel abroad to obtain an immigrant visa but also had to obtain a waiver to overcome the unlawful presence inadmissibility bar before they could return to the U.S. This new program, effective March 4, 2013, is aimed to avoid having immediate relatives submit an I-601 waiver abroad, causing them to be separated from their families for months or even years while their waivers are pending. Under the new program, they will obtain their waivers before leaving the U.S., go back to their home country to be interviewed at the consulate for a Green Card, and return to their families in the U.S. within a few days. In order to obtain an I-601A provisional waiver, the applicant must be an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, inadmissible only on account of unlawful presence, and demonstrate that the denial of the waiver would result in "extreme hardship" to his or her U.S. citizen spouse or parent.
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