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New waiver process could keep families together

We begin our first post of 2013 by wishing our readers a happy and prosperous New Year.

In our last post, we reported on the demise of the 287(g) program, which allowed local law enforcement agencies to detain suspected undocumented immigrants. Today we report on a yet another change that will help such immigrants who apply for residency within the United States. Beginning in March, undocumented immigrants who are family members of U.S. citizens will not have to leave the country due to a new waiver process that will cover them while their application for legal residency is pending.

The move is designed to eliminate the hardships that many families experience due to the prior rule, which required applicants to file their applications in their home countries, and remain there while the petition was decided. For many applicants, this meant leaving jobs and families behind, even if they were the primary breadwinners in the household.

Essentially, immigrants living in the U.S. illegally for more than one year are prohibited from returning for 10 years after leaving voluntarily leaving...even for visa application interviews. The waiver process ostensibly eliminates those bans for petitioners who are married to, or have dependents who are U.S. citizens.

The change is the latest change the Obama administration has made regarding immigration reform. As we previously posted, President Obama offered temporary residency for young undocumented immigrants. Deportation proceedings and detentions for immigrants charged with misdemeanors and non-violent felonies have also been curtailed.

If you have questions about how the new waivers will work, or need additional information about applications for changes in status, an experienced attorney can help.

Source: PE.com, New rule means less time away from families, January 2, 2013

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