Many undocumented immigrants are in hiding because of immigration policy that bars them from re-entry for a minimum of three years if they leave the United States. A proposed change in immigration law would allow any undocumented immigrants to stay in the United States while awaiting a waiver showing that an American citizen would be detrimentally affected by their absence. This change has the potential to save hundreds of thousands of Americans the difficulty of being separated from their spouses or children while awaiting the citizenship process. Proponents of the law believe that it would benefit numerous families by streamlining the process and shortening the length of time that family members are separated.
The new regulation, expected to be in place by the end of 2012, proposes that immigrants be able to apply for a waiver in the United States instead of their native country. This would essentially solve what has been called a Catch-22 situation for undocumented immigrants who may have an American spouse or parents. When an immigrant leaves the United States, re-entry is barred for a minimum of three years and sometimes up to 10 years unless they are able to obtain a waiver that proves their inability to return to the U.S. presents an “extreme hardship” to an American citizen. Considering the length of time it currently takes to receive a waiver, the new regulations will hopefully guarantee either a much shorter separation period or no separation at all.
Under the new proposal, immigrants would receive a provisional waiver in the United States before having to return to their own countries to pick up their visas. This change stops the barred re-entry for immigrants from taking effect and can ensure that families are kept together. It will also likely cause many undocumented immigrants to come forward to begin the process of obtaining citizenship in this country.
The new policy effectively closes a major loophole in the immigration policy and offers affected families a chance to be together legally. Undocumented immigrants live under a constant threat of being denied re-entry to this country if they leave for any reason. The proposed change, together with knowledge of the immigration process gained by making use of resources to help with citizenship questions or concerns, will hopefully ensure immigrants a better chance of remaining with family and friends while awaiting a green card.
Source: Dayton Daily News, “Proposal would ease green card process,” Mary McCarty, Jan. 15, 2012