USCIS to Expand Eligibility for the Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver

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As a part of President Obama’s executive actions announced on November 20, 2014, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) announced that it will allow the spouses and children of lawful permanent residents and the adult children of U.S. citizens to apply for the Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver, also known as the I-601A Waiver.

The Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver is a powerful tool that helps reduce the amount of time families are separated during the immigrant visa process.  The expanded eligibility for this waiver will mean that even more families are able to benefit.

Many undocumented individuals residing in the United States who apply for an immigrant visa (i.e., lawful permanent residence) are subject to a bar, due to their unlawful presence, that requires them to wait outside of the U.S. for up to 10 years before being eligible to receive their immigrant visa and return to their families.

The Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver permits certain eligible applicants to receive a waiver of that bar, if they are able to show that they have a qualifying relative who will face extreme hardship if the applicant were unable to return to the U.S. for up to 10 years.

Prior to the introduction of the Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver in 2013, applicants could only apply for a waiver of the unlawful presence bar after being denied their immigrant visa at a consular interview abroad. The applicant was then forced to wait outside the U.S. while applying for and awaiting adjudication of their unlawful presence waiver. The unique benefit of the Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver is that applicants are able to apply for and await adjudication of the waiver application while in the U.S., before attending their consular interview.

When the program was first announced in 2013, only the spouses, parents, and minor children of U.S. citizens were eligible to apply.

USCIS’s new rule will permit adult children of U.S. citizens, and the spouses and children of lawful permanent residents to apply for this waiver.

The Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver has greatly reduced the risk and amount of time that U.S. citizens are separated from their loved ones who are applying for immigrant visas.  With this change, lawful permanent residents and their families will now be able to seek the same benefit under the law.

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