Jewish Journal

Illegal relatives of US citizens could stay in the U.S. while applying for green cards

by Cedric M. Shen

April 3, 2012 | 10:17 am

The Obama administration is attempting to ease the way for undocumented individuals who are immediate family members of U.S. citizens to apply for permanent residency.  Under current rules, an undocumented spouse or child of a U.S. Citizen who wishes to file for permanent residency must leave the United States, file the waiver application in his/her home country, and wait for the application to be processed while remaining separated from their families for an extended period of time.  The proposed change would enable undocumented spouses and children of U.S. citizens who are physically present in the country to apply for a provisional waiver needed to seek permanent residency without having to depart the country during the pendency of the application.  This proposed will be posted for public comment on April 2, 2012 and will remain open for sixty (60) days.

The rule has some limitations and would not apply to all undocumented individuals.  To qualify for the waiver, undocumented individuals need to demonstrate that a separation would result in extreme hardship to their immediate US citizen relatives.  If the waiver is granted, the undocumented individual must leave the U.S. briefly to apply for, and to receive, a green card abroad before re-entering to the U.S.  Other undocumented individuals, such as those without immediate US citizen relatives, would not be.

Updates will be provided as new information becomes available.

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Cedric M. Shen is a Los Angeles-based immigration attorney experienced in helping foreign nationals enter the United States. His law practice focuses on employment-based green...

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