This blog has previously talked about President Obama’s new initiative that potentially creates a pathway to legal residency and the effect it has had on Pennsylvania residents. Now, President Obama has issued another immigration reform that will help U.S. citizens and their undocumented spouses stay together longer. This new aspect of family-based immigration is set to go into effect in March.
While U.S. citizens are allowed to petition for their immediate relatives to join them in the United States, what happens when that immediate relative is already living here as an undocumented immigrant? Previously, the immigrant would need to leave the country to apply for an immigration waiver that would exempt him or her from the three- or 10-year bans that accompany illegal residence in the United States. The individual would be forced to return to his or her country of origin to file a waiver that may or may not be granted, meaning there was always a risk that the individual would be unable to return to the United States for up to 10 years.
Now, however, a new rule will allow undocumented immigrants to file their waivers in the U.S. This will drastically cut down the amount of time the immigrant will need to spend away from his or her American family members. And, it will also cause less of a disruption to the immigrant’s work and other commitments in the United States.
This new law will not exempt undocumented immigrants from returning to their countries of birth, however, as they must still undergo visa interviews abroad. Many individuals within the immigration field believe that it is still an important step in the right direction.
Source: The Press-Enterprise, “IMMIGRATION: New rule means less time away from families,” David Olson, Jan. 2, 2012