As much national attention is being paid to S.744, the comprehensive immigration reform bill being debated in the Senate, New York City immigration lawyer Alan Lee says we should not forget about the I 601A provisional waiver as a means of helping immigrants remain in the United States. In comparison with the ten-plus years that it will probably take to obtain legal status under the bill, the I 601A waiver offers a much quicker process for those who qualify.
The provision is designed for immigrants who are immediate relatives (parents, siblings, children, spouses) of U.S. citizens, but who were previously ineligible to apply for status based on their illegal mode of entry into the U.S. The waiver functions to waive that illegal stay, and allows the applicant to go overseas for an immigrant visa interview promptly. Without the waiver, the immigrant would likely face a time bar of up to 10 years before he or she could even get an interview. With I-601A, writes Mr. Lee, prospective applicants who meet all of the requirements can expect to get green cards in one or two years.
This provisional waiver, unlike S.744, is already a law through a regulatory process, and U.S.C.I.S. began implementing the procedure on March 4 of this year. The agency has thus far received 4,400 applications, and has processed some of them. It has not released exact numbers, but it has stated that it issued more rejections than anticipated in the first months because of filing errors and unpaid fees.
For potential applicants who are fearful about facing removal proceedings if their applications are rejected, Lee writes that the U.S.C.I.S. is only issuing NTAs (Notices to Appear) according to its official policy, which in a nutshell includes reasons such as fraud and criminal cases. In other words, applicants will not be punished for applying merely for being in the country without documentation. However, applicants should carefully access their eligibility with an immigration lawyer before beginning the process.
To learn more about I-601A and other ways of attaining legal status, please contact the Law Offices of Matthew H. Green. We have offices in Phoenix and Tucson for your convenience.