The brand new year 2013 brings new “clothes” to an old waiver.
Effective March 4th, 2013, a new regulation published by the Obama administration, similar to the recent DACA last year, is changing the application process of an old waiver. This is not a law since it was not passed by Congress. It is not an amnesty either.
Any individuals that qualified for the “old” waiver, qualify for the new process. Only certain relatives of U.S. Citizens can apply for it. Also, the waiver still refers to “extreme hardship” suffered by the U.S. Citizen relative, not by the beneficiary. What is changing is the processing of the waiver while the beneficiary is still in the United States. The aim is to shorten the time the beneficiary will have to spend separated from their U.S. Citizen relatives.
A person who enters the United States illegally (without a visa or inspection) will not be able to obtain, under the current immigration laws, permanent residency, while in the U.S., even if they are married to a U.S. Citizen or if they have children over 21 years of age who are U.S. Citizens. They will have leave the U.S., have their relatives petition for them, and stay abroad until they receive the documents. This process may take a long time. If the person has been illegally present in the United States for less then a year, the moment they leave the United States, they are barred from applying for any kind of visa for 3 years. If they have been illegally present for over a year, they are barred for 10 years.
If a person is barred for 10 years, there is a waiver that must be filed to ask for the forgiveness of the 10 years bar, but it requires “extreme hardship” suffered by the U.S. Citizen relative. Thus, the waiver cannot be used in all cases, and by anyone. The new regulation is trying to alleviate the need for these exceptional cases to have the waiver processed in the U.S. and have the beneficiary spend as little time as possible abroad, apart from their U.S. relatives who would otherwise be subjected to “extreme hardship”.