The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has proposed a more streamlined process to assist petitioners for legal residency in a more streamlined fashion.
Currently, immediate relatives of U.S. citizens who have accrued a certain period of unlawful presence in the United States are barred from returning to the U.S. for as long as 3 or 10 years if they leave the country.
Immediate relatives can obtain a waiver of the unlawful presence bar if they show that a U.S. citizen spouse or parent will experience extreme hardship if they are required to remain outside the U.S. But in order to obtain the waiver, these individuals must depart the U.S. and wait abroad while the waiver is processed.
As a result, long years of separation keep families divided waiting while the various government processes churn on slowly. This is particularly difficult when very young or very old members of the family are involved in the process.
Under the new proposed process, immediate relatives of U.S. citizens who would need a waiver of unlawful presence in order to obtain an immigrant visa could file a new form form before leaving the U.S. to obtain an immigrant visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad.
All individuals eligible for this streamlined process are still required to depart the U.S. and must meet all legal requirements for issuance of an immigrant visa and admission to the U.S.
Those who claim that this new process is some type of new "amnesty" are plain wrong. This new process is intended to hasten the steps for those family members who are clearly eligible for more rapid consideration of their petition. None of the steps in the process are being waived; rather, all of the elements are moved forward in a more certain way.
I support this new Rule and pray that after the 60 days for public comment it will be in effect.
Some estimates are that one million of the current 11 million unauthorized immigrants may be able to secure a more rapid path to legal residency.
This new process will help bring a large number of our residents out of the shadows and to give them a new future in our midst.