Thursday, January 3, 2013

DHS Provides Relief for Separated Immigrant Families

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) have set forth the final ruling for the Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver as announced by Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano yesterday.  The original ruling was published on April 2, 2012 which quickly received more than 4,000 comments, all of which were taken into serious consideration while developing the final ruling.  Secretary Napolitano was quoted saying, “This final rule facilitates the legal immigration process and reduces the amount of time that U.S. citizens are separated from their immediate relatives who are in the process of obtaining an immigrant visa.”

The final ruling from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) implements the “proposed rule to amend its regulations to allow certain immediate relatives of U.S. citizens who are physically present in the United States to request provisional unlawful presence waivers prior to departing from the United States.”  One of the most significant benefits of the ruling is the amount of time U.S. citizens will spend separated from their immediate relatives will be greatly reduced.

In order to comply with the consular immigrant visa process, the immediate relatives will still have to depart from the United States but will be able to now apply for a provisional unlawful presence waiver prior to leaving.  The applicant will still be required to participate in their immigrant visa interview abroad as well as notify the Department of State’s National Visa Center, stating they are seeking a provisional waiver from USCIS.  The final ruling aims to help those currently affected by the process in addition to having “a significant impact on America families by greatly reducing the time family members are separated from those they rely upon,” as stated by USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas.

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