On December 21st, 2011, I wrote about getting green cards for a spouse that entered illegally across the border. In that post (Consular Processing – Getting a green card for your border jumping spouse), I noted that if you were not admitted into the United States at a port of entry, such as an airport or a border crossing, you could not adjust your status while in the United States, and you would have to go back to your country to apply for your green card at the consulate and that in most cases you would need to file a waiver and wait many months while it was processed, usually separated from your spouse.
Well, imagine my surprise when on January 6, 2012, the Obama administration announced that they would be proposing a fix for the waiver system, hopefully saving spouses of U.S. citizens months of waiting and streamlining the consular processing system. As I explained in my previous post, a waiver showing that there would be extreme hardship to the U.S. citizen relative was necessary to overcome a bar on admissibility that prevents many people from reentering the United States. The waivers cannot be applied for in the current system until the consular processing interview after which the foreign spouse must wait for months or, in some cases, years for an answer. If the waiver is denied, they must either try again or simply wait out the bar on admissibility. Although waivers are regularly given in certain areas of the world, in others they are extremely difficult to get. Therefore, many spouses simply don’t try and remain in the United States without immigration status simply because the risks are lower.
If you have questions about the new waiver proposal and want to ask an immigration attorney about it, contact Law Offices of Jacob D. Geller at 781-462-1346.
The new proposal is suggesting that the alien should have a provisional waiver prior to leaving the United States. Such a waiver would then allow them to get their approval at the consulate and be almost guaranteed reentry into the United States pursuant to that waiver when they get their green card stamp. Such a move would cut down waiting times and separation from family from months or years to potentially weeks.
The best part is that it may not require the approval of a Congress that clearly can’t move forward on any immigration reform, meaning the likelihood of this being implemented is much higher. Of course, as we have seen with this administration, there is a wide chasm between proposals and implementations, so we will have to wait and see. Regardless, it is encouraging to see positive proposals being made that will have really positive impacts on people who are deserving of immigration reform.
For those interested in a more in-depth understanding of the law behind this proposal, I highly suggest reading the Department of Homeland Security release below which has a fairly good explanation of the law and the proposed changes.
Sources: Tweak in Rule to Ease a Path to Green Card, NY Times; Provisional Waivers of Inadmissibility For Certain Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizens, Department of Homeland Security