President Obama Proposes to Change Immigration Rule to Help Undocumented Immigrants Gain Lawful Status in U.S.
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is proposing to make it easier for illegal immigrants who are immediate family members of American citizens to apply for permanent residency, a move that could affect as many as 1 million of the estimated 11 million immigrants living here illegally.
The new rule, which the Department of Homeland Security will post for public comment Monday, would reduce the time illegal immigrants are separated from their American families while seeking legal status, immigration officials said. Currently, such immigrants must leave the country to apply for a legal visa, often leading to long stints away as they await resolution of their applications.
The proposal is the latest move by the administration to use its executive powers to revise immigration procedures without changing the law. It reflects an effort by President Obama to improve his standing among those Latino voters who feel he has not met his 2008 campaign promise to pursue comprehensive immigration reform.
The president’s push to pass the Dream Act, a law that would have created a path to citizenship for young illegal immigrants enrolled in college or enlisted in the military, was defeated in the Senate in December. No reform legislation has been under serious consideration since, yet the U.S. has deported a record number of illegal immigrants under Obama.
Many immigrants who might seek legal status do not pursue it out of fear they will not receive a “hardship waiver” of strict U.S. immigration laws: An illegal immigrant who has overstayed a visa for more than six months is barred from reentering the U.S. for three years; those who overstay more than a year are barred for 10 years.
The revised rule would allow illegal immigrants to claim that time apart from a spouse, child or parent who is a U.S. citizen would create “extreme hardship,” and would permit them to remain in the country as they apply for legal status. Once approved, applicants would be required to leave the U.S. briefly, simply to return to their native country and pick up their visa.
The change could reduce a family’s time apart to one week in some cases, officials said. The White House hopes to have the new procedures in place by the end of the year.
Keep checking ocimmigrationlawyer.com for updates on the numerous recent rule changes President Obama has proposed. If you or a loved one is considering the visa petition process, contact The Nunez Firm to schedule a free consultation.