Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver

On March 4, 2013 USCIS began accepting “provisional unlawful presence waiver” applications on Form I-601A. Who can benefit from this new law?

In order to qualify you must :

  • Be 17 years of age or older.
  • Be the spouse or childof a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • Have an approved Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative.
  • Have a pending immigrant visa application with the Department of State, with fully paid application fees.
  • Demonstrate that refusal of your admission to the U.S. will cause extreme hardship to your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse or parent.
  • Be present in the U.S. to file your application for a provisional unlawful presence waiver and provide biometrics (fingerprints).

Many people applying for a green card based on their relationship to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident must leave the country and apply at an embassy in their native country. Some individuals are considered “inadmissible” because they were “unlawfully present” in the U.S. for six months or more. In the past, these individuals were required to apply for a waiver of inadmissibility at the embassy in their native country. It can take a long time for a waiver application to be approved, and an individual could be required to wait outside the U.S., separated from his or her family for a long period of time. In order to reduce the amount of time individuals are separated from their families, the government is now allowing individuals who are inadmissible for unlawful presence to apply for a waiver while residing in the U.S., before returning to their native country for a visa interview. If the provisional unlawful presence waiver application is approved, the individual still must return to his or her native country for a visa interview, but the wait time outside the U.S. is usually greatly reduced.

There are some limitations to this new law. Individuals considered inadmissible for reasons other than unlawful presence (for example, because of past criminal convictions or fraud), may not be eligible. Also, individuals currently in removal or deportation proceedings may not be eligible. However, there are exceptions, and even individuals in these circumstances may have options available to them.

The provisional unlawful presence waiver is a great opportunity to avoid being separated from your familywhile your application is being decided. If you would like to learn more about the new law and find out whether you are eligible, contact our office and schedule a consultation today.