FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Wendy Rhein
CLINIC Welcomes Revised Waiver Guidelines, Seeks Revisions
Washington, DC (April 2, 2012) - [En Español] - The Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) is pleased that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has issued its proposed rule related to pre-adjudication of unlawful presence waivers for certain family members. The proposed rule permits spouses and minor/unmarried children of U.S. citizens to apply for and receive a provisional waiver of their unlawful presence in the U.S. before leaving this country for the processing of their immigrant visas. Prior unlawful presence in the United States is one of the most common grounds of inadmissibility under our nation’s immigration laws. Individuals seeking to legalize through a family petition have been able to apply for a waiver, but only at the time of their consular processing abroad. For that reason, the current process has caused prolonged family separation as individuals await adjudication of their waiver application in their home country.
The proposed pre-adjudication measure allows individuals to apply for and receive a preliminary decision on their waiver application before departing the United States.
“The issuance of this proposed rule constitutes a meaningful and very positive step towards ensuring that the process of legalizing one’s status does not come at the high price of being separated, often for years, from one’s loved ones,” said Maria M. Odom, executive director of CLINIC. “CLINIC supports the overall proposed rule and looks forward to providing detailed commentary over the next 60 days, noting that there are still fundamental areas in which the rule can be improved. It was disappointing to learn that this important benefit will be unavailable to those who have already been scheduled for an immigrant visa interview abroad, penalizing those who have already taken meaningful steps to legalize their status.”
It is essential that the State Department and USCIS work together to achieve a process that makes this benefit available to all families, regardless of where they are in the process. CLINIC will also continue to strongly encourage the Administration and USCIS to move beyond these basic guidelines and extend this pre-adjudication option to all individuals.
CLINIC calls on members of the legal and advocacy communities to engage in public education about this proposed rule, what it means and who it benefits. Preparation of a waiver application requires skill and immigration legal expertise and, in this current climate where many immigrants are hopeful for some legal relief, many could fall prey to unscrupulous unauthorized practitioners. CLINIC and its affiliates will continue to work arduously to build capacity for legal services for those in need.