Some of the saddest stories about immigration involve families forced to separate while they are applying for residency in our country. A new immigration law beginning in March may reduce that likelihood and could give hope to California families affected by the possibility of a separation. The law will minimize the amount of time families are apart while they are applying for residency. As of now, immigrants are required to leave the United States and return to their home countries in order to apply for a green card and await the decision, often resulting in long separation periods and the possibility they may not be able to return.
However, undocumented immigrants will be required to demonstrate why their absence could create a hardship, potentially leaving the door open to be forced to leave pending a decision on an application. The law will allow immigrants currently in this country to apply for a waiver, without the requirement of going back to their own country. However, once they receive their approved application, they are still required to travel back in order to undergo an interview and receive the official approval.
The new law may encourage others who have abandoned the immigration process to try again. In the past, people who have begun the process of permanent residency stopped once they realized there was a very real risk of being forced to go home. The rule may help others feel more confidence in their chances for being allowed to stay.
With the legislation, they may have to go home, but only for a little while. Immigrants have been anxiously awaiting similar legislation. Previously, there was a very real possibility of being banned from returning to this country for up to a decade, depending upon how long they were living without proper documentation here. While there are critics of the new immigration law, it could positively impact undocumented California families and those across the country by allowing them to stay together. Any separation caused after their residency is approved would likely be minimal.
Source: NorthJersey.com, "New U.S. immigration rule designed to help keep families intact," Monsy Alvarado, Jan. 2, 2013