It’s a common issue arising in the area of immigration law. A US citizen marries someone in the United States who is here unlawfully and because they entered without a visa they must return to their home country if they want to obtain a green card. In most instances that means that the foreign spouse would be subject to at least a 3 year bar to re-entry and possibly a 10 year bar based on the length of their unlawful presence in the United States. There is an application process through with the 3 or 10 year bar can be waived but it’s lengthy and requires the foreign national spouse to be outside of the United States for a prolonged time, sometimes many years.
That can mean serious hardship to the family, both financially and emotionally, and many simply choose to live in the shadows.
However, circumstances may be changing enough that some people may now choose to come forward.
As reported in today’s New York Times, the Obama administration is proposing a rule changes that would allow a provisional waiver to be granted while the foreign spouse is still inside the United States and also streamline the consular process so that the green card is granted in a matter of weeks rather than months.
“Citizenship and Immigration Services proposes to allow the immigrants to obtain a provisional waiver in the United States, before they leave for their countries to pick up their visas. Having the waiver in hand will allow them to depart knowing that they will almost certainly be able to return, officials said. The agency is also seeking to sharply streamline the process to cut down the wait times for visas to a few weeks at most.
“The goal is to substantially reduce the time that the U.S. citizen is separated from the spouse or child when that separation would yield an extreme hardship,” said Alejandro Mayorkas, the director of the immigration agency.“
This is a developing story and I’ll update it as new information comes in.