Today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a final rule expanding eligibility for the Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver, or the I-601A waiver. The new rule significantly expands the waiver program, which will allow an estimated 100,000 more individuals to become eligible for a waiver which was created in 2013 by President Obama’s Administration to keep families together.
Under a program created in March 2013, certain undocumented family members present in the US became eligible to file the I-601A waiver while they are in the US to cure unlawful presence bars that are triggered when they travel abroad to get immigrant visas. After being in the US with unlawful presence for either 6 months or one year or longer, many undocumented immigrants will be subject to either a three or ten-year bar from returning to the U.S., respectively. Certain immigrants who can show that denial of their visa will cause extreme hardship to a U.S. citizen spouse or parent – as of 2013 – could apply for an I-601A waiver while in the US to cure these bards. The new rule, which goes into effect on August 29, 2016, will expand eligibility for the waiver to certain individuals who can show extreme hardship to a US citizen or Legal Permanent Resident spouse or parent. By adding hardship to legal permanent resident spouses and parents, the program will make many more people eligible for the waiver. Additionally, the I-601A waiver will also become available to those individuals with an approved I-140 employment-based visa petition, whereas under the 2013 program it was only available to those with an approved I-130 family-based immigrant visa petition.