Advance Copy of Proposed Rule: Provisional Unlawful Presence Waivers of Inadmissibility for Certain Immediate Relatives

"On January 9, 2012, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced its intention to change its current process for filing and adjudication of certain applications for waivers of inadmissibility filed in connection with an immediate relative immigrant visa application. USCIS now proposes to amend its regulations to allow certain immediate relatives of U.S. citizens who are physically present in the United States to request provisional unlawful presence waivers under the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, as amended (INA or Act), prior to departing from the United States for consular processing of their immigrant visa applications. Currently, such aliens must depart from the United States and request waivers of inadmissibility during the overseas immigrant visa process, often causing U.S. citizens to be separated for extended periods from their immediate relatives who are otherwise eligible for an immigrant visa and admission for lawful permanent residence. Under the proposal, USCIS would grant a provisional unlawful presence waiver that would become fully effective upon the alien’s departure from the United States and the U.S. Department of State (DOS) consular officer’s determination at the time of the immigrant visa interview that, in light of the approved provisional unlawful presence waiver and other evidence of record, the alien is otherwise admissible to the United States and eligible to receive an immigrant visa. USCIS does not envision issuing Notices to Appear (NTA) to initiate removal proceedings against aliens whose provisional waiver applications have been approved. However, if USCIS, for example, discovers acts, omissions, or post-approval activity that would meet the criteria for NTA issuance or determines that the provisional waiver was granted in error, USCIS may issue an NTA, consistent with USCIS’s NTA issuance policy, as well as reopen the provisional waiver approval and deny the waiver request. USCIS anticipates that the proposed changes will significantly reduce the length of time U.S. citizens are separated from their immediate relatives who are required to remain outside of the United States for immigrant visa processing and during adjudication of a waiver of inadmissibility for the unlawful presence. USCIS also believes that the proposed process, which reduces the degree of interchange between the DOS and USCIS, will create efficiencies for both the U.S. Government and most applicants. In addition to codifying the new process, USCIS proposes amendments clarifying other regulations. Even after USCIS begins accepting provisional unlawful presence waiver applications, the filing or approval of a provisional unlawful presence waiver application will not: confer any legal status, protect against the accrual of additional unlawful presence, authorize an alien to enter the United States without securing a visa or other appropriate entry document, convey any interim benefits (e.g., employment authorization, parole, or advance parole), or protect an alien from being placed in removal proceedings or removed from the United States. Do not send an application requesting a provisional waiver under the procedures under consideration in this proposed rule. Any provisional waiver application filed before the rule becomes final and effective will be rejected and the application package returned to the applicant, including any fees. USCIS will begin accepting provisional waiver applications only after a final rule is issued and the procedural change becomes effective." - FR Doc. 2012-7698 Filed 03/30/2012 at 8:45 am; Publication Date: 04/02/2012.