New Immigration Rule Brightens Future for Immigrants Living in the Shadows

"Federal officials announced Wednesday a rule change expected to allow eligible [unauthorized] immigrants to begin legalizing their status without having to face long separations from their spouses and children who are in the United States legally.  U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and U.S. Department of Homeland Security said the policy will take effect March 4 and is expected to have a broad impact on those with immediate family members of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.  "It’s a really good thing and we’re pretty excited about it," said Aaron Tarin, a Salt Lake City-based immigration attorney.  "We believe it will cause people to step out of the shadows."  The rule largely eliminates a Catch-22 faced by those who entered the country illegally but want to establish legal status.  Currently in most cases, [unauthorized] immigrants must leave the United States and apply for a visa at a U.S. consulate in their home country.  But once they step foot outside the United States, they’re immediately subject to either a three-year or 10-year ban on returning.  Although they could apply for a waiver of that ban, the application process alone could sometimes take upward of a year, forcing the undocumented immigrants to wait in their country of origin during that stretch.  Under the new provision, those eligible can apply for the unlawful presence waiver in the United States before returning to their home country to complete the application process.  Once approved, the waiver gives them greater assurance to set up an appointment in their country of origin for an interview designed to determine visa — and ultimately — legal permanent resident eligibility." - David Montero, Salt Lake Tribune, Jan. 3, 2013.