Family Unity Waivers

On January 9, 2012 the Obama Administration announced plans to change the process that governs immigration waivers, which are commonly required in the case of undocumented immigrants who have lived in the United States and now wish to gain lawful immigration status through family members.

On April 2, 2012 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a Proposed Rule (USCIS-2012-0003) in the Federal Register. USCIS accepted public comments on the Proposed Rule, and the Immigration Assistance Program and its clients submitted nearly 200 comments in support of approving and expanding the Proposed Rule. The comment period closed on June 1, 2012.

At this time, we are awaiting the publishing of a Final Rule by USCIS. Some observers believe this will occur in the late summer or early fall and that a new process will be in effect late this year. Others think it will take longer, with a process not available until early or mid-2013.

The form that is being discussed is Form I-601A, which is a variation of the current Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility. Please note that Form I-601A is not yet available and cannot be submitted. If a person is currently offering to help you prepare an application for the provisional family unity waiver, you may be at risk of being defrauded.

As new developments unfold, we will provide updates in this forum. We hope that a Final Rule will be published and put into effect soon, and we also hope that the Final Rule will correct some of the arbitrary injustices found in the Proposed Rule. You can see our public comment advocating for changes here.

For now, the process that is being proposed would be available to:

  • Spouses, parents, and unmarried children under age 21 of U.S. citizens who:
  • Have been unlawfully present in the United States for over 180 days;
  • Have not left the United States since entering the country;
  • Have not scheduled an Immigrant Visa appointment through a U.S. consulate abroad;
  • Are not currently in removal proceedings (including proceedings that have been administratively closed but not terminated); and
  • Are not and will not be inadmissible for any reason besides the 3- and 10-year bars (in other words, no criminal, fraud, national security, health-based, or other inadmissibility issues).

If you are uncertain if this process would apply to you, contact us for a consultation. For the time being, we are awaiting a final word on how this process will work.


3 responses to “Family Unity Waivers

  1. Maria saldana

    At this point there is nothing to do but wait for the family unity waiver to be approved? And still be able to qualify for it? I understand that the waiver applies to families who can show extreme hardship. Will that still be the case? What are the possibilities of somebody obtaining the waiver?

    • Hello Maria,

      The short answer to your questions is: “We don’t know.” The longer answer is this:

      On April 2, 2012 USCIS issued a Proposed Rule. The Final Rule (expected any time soon) will probably be very similar to the Proposed Rule but we cannot be sure what, if any, changes USCIS will decide to make.

      The Proposed Rule outlined the basic requirements we describe in this post such as (1) the person must not have scheduled his/her visa appointment, (2) the person must only be inadmissible due to Sec. 212(a)(9)(B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, and (3) that the person be an immediate relative (i.e. spouse, parent, or unmarried child under 21 years old) of a U.S. citizen.

      The only thing we can be sure of is that the statute has not changed, so the “extreme hardship” standard remains intact and obtaining these waivers should be just as hard (no harder, no easier) than it is currently to obtain a standard I-601 waiver.

  2. Pingback: BREAKING: USCIS unveils final rule on I-601A provisional waiver process | Immigration Assistance Program

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