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Special waiver allows family members to avoid 10-year ban

Starting March 4, undocumented immigrants who are immigrant family members of U.S. citizens will have a much easier time gaining legal status because of a recent policy change led by the Obama Administration.

The policy change will give spouses, children and parents of U.S. citizens the opportunity to apply for a special waiver that allows them to stay in the country while waiting to obtain their green cards.

The purpose of the policy change is to protect spouses and other immediate family members of U.S. citizens from deportation so long as they have no criminal records and been in the country for a certain length of time.

The special provisional waiver will allow applications to avoid having to leave the country and face the 10-year ban from re-entering that is typically enforced as a punishment for living in the United States illegally for more than a year. The 10-year ban was imposed in 1996 as a way to discourage illegal immigration; however, it can be very burdensome on families.

When it announced the finalization of the policy change earlier this month, the Obama Administration said its purpose is to prevent the long period of separation families face when a spouse, child or parent is forced to leave the country for 10 years as he or she waits for a green card.

Department of Homeland Security officials said they are not sure how many families will benefit from the special provisional waivers, but the director of the Migration Policy Institute at New York University said hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants and their families could be positively affected.

To find out more about the policy change and the special provisional waivers for immediate family members of U.S. citizens, talk to an experienced immigration lawyer in your area.

Source: USA TODAY, "New policy aids illegal-immigrant spouse," Daniel Gonzalez, Jan. 23, 2013

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