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The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has issued a new process significantly reducing the amount of time for family members of United States citizens to obtain a provisional waiver (I-601A waiver) of their unlawful presence. Previously, immediate relatives were required to depart the United States, attend a consular interview, and be told that a waiver of inadmissibility was required before even applying. Due to long processing times, the United States citizen family members often experienced extreme hardship while waiting for their family members who were out of the country.

USCIS now allows immediate family members of United States citizens to remain in the United States while provisional waivers for unlawful presence are filed. Now the filing process can begin upon approval of the family petition (I-130). Because USCIS processes the waiver before the relative departs, time spent out of the country is significantly reduced.

Once the waiver is approved, the family member needs to return to their home country for the consular interview to get their immigrant visa and subsequent admission into the United States. Families are reunited far more quickly with this new process than under the old system.

Provisional Waivers start March 4, 2013

An immediate family member of a United States citizen may seek a provisional waiver if they meet the following:

  • The applicant must be the immediate relative of a United States citizen. Immediate relative includes the spouse or child (under 21) of a U.S. citizen, or the parent of a U.S. citizen 21 years of age or older. It may also include persons protected under the Child Status Protection Act and qualified widowers of U.S. citizens.
  • The applicant must be physically present in the United States when filing the waiver application.
  • The applicant must be otherwise admissible to the United States. The provisional waiver is only for unlawful presence in the United States. It will not waive certain criminal or fraudulent acts which may make you inadmissible. The provisional waiver does not apply to the repeat violator bar.
  • You must still demonstrate extreme hardship to a qualifying relative.