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Provisional Waivers Mean Less Family Separation During Consular Processing

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Provisional Waivers Mean Less Family Separation During Consular Processing

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A little more than five months after United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began accepting provisional unlawful presence waivers, the Department of State (DOS) released a cable on August 13, 2013 regarding the processing of cases with approved provisional waivers.  The cable confirms the expectation that the new provisional unlawful presence waiver process will drastically shorten the time U.S. citizens are separated from eligible immediate relatives while those family members are obtaining immigrant visas.

To be eligible for a provisional unlawful presence waiver, an applicant must be:

(1) present in the U.S.,

(2) at least 17 years old,

(3) the beneficiary of an approved petition from an immediate relative who is a U.S. citizen, and

(4) only inadmissible to the United States for having unlawful presence in the country.

To get the provisional waiver approved, applicants have to prove that their absence from the U.S. will cause extreme hardship to their U.S. citizen qualifying relative.  As approvals for provisional waivers begin to roll in, we expect that these applicants will only have to spend a week or two outside of the United States.  Before the provisional waiver program, applicants who needed a waiver for unlawful presence would commonly spend around a year outside the United States, even if their case was approved relatively smoothly.

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