In March 2012 the USCIS announced a form of relief soon to become vailable to many families who either entered the U.S. unlawfully, overstayed their visas, or violated the status of their entry visas. Many such visa hopefuls are not protected by 245(i) and therefore must exit the U.S. to obtain their immigrant visas (green cards). However, when they leave for their consular interview, they become subject to the penalty of unlawful U.S. presence; they face a 3 or 10 bar to returning to the U.S. This obstacle makes it impossible for them to immigrate, unless they are granted a waiver (pardon) of inadmissibility. What makes it more difficult is that they must file the waiver application with the consulate abroad, where they are forced to wait months or longer before they receive a reply and are able to return.
The USCIS has now published proposed rules that will permit the hopeful immigrant to file the waiver application while in the U.S., and wait here for a decision. In the very near future this will be available to those who have a US citizen spouse or parent. It will still be necessary to prove “extreme hardship” to the spouse or parent if the immigration is not permitted, but the separation of families will be significantly reduced to days instead of months.