Obama Pursues Rule Change to Allow I-601 Waiver Applicants to Apply Without Leaving the US
The Obama administration wants to more quickly reunite Americans with their illegal immigrant spouses and children in a move long sought by advocates but panned by Republicans as a way to push unpopular policies around Congress.
Currently, many illegal immigrants must leave the country before they can ask the federal government to waive a three- to 10-year ban on legally coming back to the U.S. The length of the ban depends on how long they have lived in the U.S. without permission.
On Friday, the Obama administration proposed changing the rule to let children and spouses ask the government to decide on the waiver request before they head to their home country to seek a visa to return here legally.
The illegal immigrants would still have to go abroad to finish the visa process, but getting a provisional waiver approved in advance would reduce the time they are out of the country from months to days or weeks, said Alejandro Mayorkas, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
The purpose is “to minimize the extent to which bureaucratic delays separate Americans from their families for long periods of time,” Mayorkas told reporters.
It currently takes about six months for the government to issue a waiver, Mayorkas said.
The waiver shift is the latest move by President Barack Obama to make changes to immigration policy without congressional action. Congressional Republicans repeatedly have criticized the administration for policy changes they describe as providing “backdoor amnesty” to illegal immigrants.
The proposal also comes as Obama gears up for a re-election contest in which the support of Hispanic voters could prove a determining factor in a number of states. The administration hopes to change the rule later this year after taking public comments.
If this rule change is successful, it could change the lives of many illegal immigrants that are married to US citizens or have US citizen family members that rely on them. Allowing undocumented immigrants to apply for the extreme hardship waiver without having to leave the US would minimize the usual risks associated with I-601 waivers.
If you are considering an I-601 waiver, please contact The Nunez Firm to schedule a free consultation. Managing attorney Jay Nunez will personally discuss your case with you during a free and confidential interview.