USCIS has announced that it will begin accepting provisional applications for the I-601 waiver of unlawful presence for some spouses of United States Citizens on March 4, 2013. This eagerly-anticipated change to the procedure for I-601 waiver applications will benefit immigrants subject to the 10-year unlawful presence inadmissibility bar. Most commonly these are individuals who initially entered the country illegally and later married a United States citizen.
Under current procedures the immigrant spouse, after obtaining an approved I-130 filed by the U.S. citizen spouse, must leave the U.S. for a consular interview in her home country. The immigrant visa is denied because of the 10-year bar, and then the waiver application is made based on “extreme hardship” to the U.S. citizen spouse. Waiver adjudications are currently taking about 4-6 months. This process creates separation of families and causes the extreme hardship that a waiver is meant to avoid.
The new “provisional waiver” procedure allows applicants to utilize Form I-601A to file the waiver before departing the U.S. This process should dramatically reduce the time the immigrant spouse must spend abroad.
It also should encourage more people to apply, as many eligible applicants hesitate because of the uncertainty of the current process and the prospect of a long separation.
If you have questions about provisional waiver processing or think the new procedures will benefit your family please contact Natalie Rivera at 515-246-7948 to schedule an initial consultation.