USCIS announced on July 29, 2016 that the new rules on expanded eligibility for the provisional unlawful presence waiver will take effect on August 29, 2016.
In general, an individual with an approved immigrant petition who is present in the United States without having been inspected, admitted or paroled, is ineligible to adjust his or her status to that of a lawful permanent resident (LPR) while in the United States. Instead, he or she must depart the United States and apply for an immigrant visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. However, if the applicant has accrued unlawful presence in the United States for more than 180 days, departure may trigger a 3 or 10 year bar to readmission. The bar may be waived if the applicant demonstrates that the refusal of his or her admission would cause extreme hardship to a U.S. citizen or LPR spouse or parent.
An applicant who knows that he or she will be subject to the 3 or 10 year bar may apply for provisional approval of an unlawful presence waiver prior to departing the United States for the consular visa interview. This process has shortened the time that a petitioner is separated from his or her family member while the latter obtains an immigrant visa abroad.
Previously, a provisional waiver was limited to those immigrating to the U.S. as "immediate relatives” such as spouses and children of U.S. citizens and parents of adult U.S. citizens. Under the new expanded provisional waiver rule, eligibility is extended to anyone statutorily eligible for an unlawful presence waiver under INA §212(a)(9)(B)(v), regardless of their immigrant visa classification, such as immigrant visa applicants under the family or employment-based preference category, the diversity visa lottery, or the special immigrant classification.
The new rule, which takes effect on August 29, 2016, is a great step towards promoting family unity and greatly reduces the separation time entailed in the former unlawful presence waiver process.
Feel free to contact our office to get more information about the expanded provisional waiver rule.
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