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On July 29, 2016, USCIS announced the expansion of the provisional waiver. This is great news for those that have green card holding spouses or parents, but were not previously eligible to apply (because it was limited to U.S. citizen qualifying relatives). To better understand the changed, let’s first look at the original provisional waiver.

Since March 2013, a person that entered the United States illegally (for example without inspection), could apply to obtain a green card. He or she had to:

  1. File and have a family, employment or other petition approved;
  2. Then file a waiver to prove their U.S. spouse or parent would suffer extreme hardship if applicant was deported;
  3. And lastly, the applicant would travel to the U.S. embassy in their home country for an interview.

The last step might seem scary to many applicants, but the interview is usually a formality. With the waiver already approved in the U.S., one would not have to worry that the hardship was not met. Additionally, the time spent outside the United States would be just a couple of weeks.

The provisional waiver is a big improvement from previous laws, which would require an applicant to first leave the United States, and then file the waiver. If the extreme hardship was not met, then the applicant would be stuck outside the United States. Even if the waiver was approved, the applicant would be forced to wait for the approval abroad, which could take an additional 6 months to 2 (or more) years.

Therefore, we are excited that many other individuals would be able to take advantage of the process described above, even if they were not eligible before the expansion of the rule. If you are in the United States illegally, but are married to a green card holder or have parents that are green card holders, you also might now be eligible to apply for the provisional waiver. It is no longer limited just to those that have spouses or parents that are U.S. citizens. Green card holders are now also eligible to be qualifying relatives for the provisional waiver.

Obtaining a green card that requires a provisional waiver requires a lot of work and specialized knowledge of U.S. immigration laws. Our office will meet with you and your qualifying relative and advise you if there is enough extreme hardship. If we think that there is enough hardship, we will closely work with you to ensure that enough documents are provided to give you the best chance for approval. Documents to prove hardship include medical records, financial records, detailed records of one’s life in the United States, an extensive evaluation of country conditions of applicant’s home country, just to mention a few.

Our office has filed many provisional waivers and to this date, our success rate has been extremely high. We were able to demonstrate the extreme hardship factor in almost all cases, which is “extremely” difficult to do. Our clients were able to leave the U.S., attend an interview and enter the United States as lawful permanent residents of the U.S.

We encourage you to contact our office and schedule a consultation, so we can advise you of the best options given your individual needs, in order to avoid unnecessary delays, costs and frustration.