USCIS Extends the Qualifying Relative Pool for Provisional Waiver Applications
Sep 23, 2016
Dallas, TX (Law Firm Newswire) September 23, 2016 – Under a final rule announced by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and effective in late August, 2016, certain family members of lawful permanent residents in addition to those of U.S. citizens will become eligible to apply for a waiver of inadmissibility while in the United States, and spend less time separated from their petitioning family members.
USCIS stated that the final rule is an expansion of the Provisional Waiver process that was established in 2013, with the goal of helping families stay unified. Initially, certain immediate relatives of U.S. citizens who are subject to inadmissibility because of their unlawful presence in the United States, and may apply for a Provisional Waiver of that impediment with USCIS before departing for their immigrant visa interviews abroad, based on the extreme hardship that would be suffered by their U.S. citizen parent or spouse if a waiver were not granted.
Under the new rule, as of August 29, 2016, all individuals statutorily eligible for a waiver of inadmissibility based on unlawful presence including the relatives of lawful permanent residents, may apply for a provisional waiver. Prior to the existence of the Provisional Waiver process, an immigrant visa applicant had to depart the United States, appear for his or her immigrant visa appointment at a U.S. Consular Post abroad, be found to be inadmissible, then apply for a waiver and wait for application adjudication abroad, resulting in lengthy separation from family members.
“By regulatorily expanding the persons who can apply for a Provisional Waiver to include all persons who are permitted by statute to apply, USCIS has made a sensible decision which will help families who apply to immigrate by reducing the time that family members are separated” said Stewart Rabinowitz, an immigration attorney with the Dallas firm of Rabinowitz & Rabinowitz, P.C.
To qualify for a Provisional Waiver, an individual must show that his or her lawful permanent resident or U.S. citizen parent or spouse would suffer “extreme hardship” if the individual is not permitted to return to the United States. USCIS said that it will provide additional guidance on how “extreme hardship” determinations are made and will make changes to the relevant waiver application.
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