FindLaw KnowledgeBasePublished: 2012-03-22
Officials from the Obama administration recently announced a proposed change in immigration policy that would help keep undocumented immigrants together with their families during the green card application process.
Undocumented immigrants who want to apply for legal status are usually required to leave the country first for a period of either three or 10 years, depending on how long they have been in the U.S. illegally. The waiting period applies even if an applicant is otherwise eligible for lawful permanent residency.
Although the government will waive the waiting period in certain cases to prevent hardship to an undocumented immigrant’s U.S. citizen family members, the current system still requires applicants to leave the country while their waiver requests are pending. On average, it takes the government about six months to process a waiver application.
Some Applicants Could Await Waiver Results in U.S.
The new rule would allow applicants to remain in the U.S. during the waiver adjudication period if they can show that their absence would present a hardship for a spouse or parent who is a U.S. citizen. Although the proposed change would not affect the ultimate outcome of who is or is not granted a waiver of the waiting period, it would help reduce the time that families must spend apart while waiting for a decision.
Applicants whose waiver requests are granted would still be required to travel to their home countries in order to apply for authorization to return to the U.S. legally. Undocumented individuals seeking to gain legal status in the U.S. should consult with an experienced immigration attorney to learn more about their options, and to determine if and when this new rule will go into effect.