The new immigration waiver announced this week by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano may benefit undocumented family members by allowing the visa process to start in the U.S.
Juan Roberto Gonzalez, a local immigration attorney, said up to now, “You actually had to go to your home country to apply for the provisional waiver and wait for the decision.”
Gonzalez said in the past, awaiting a decision could mean a 10-year ban from re-entering the U.S.
But if granted under the new policy, Gonzalez said applicants now can take their provisional waivers to U.S. Consulates in their home countries to finish the visa process.
He said besides not having any criminal histories, they also must prove the hardship of being separated from their loved ones who are legally in the U.S.
If they are denied a provisional waiver here, Gonzalez said it is unclear whether removal proceedings could be initiated. He also said there is a risk of being trapped in their home countries, if other problems are discovered at the U.S. Consulate.
To begin the process effective March 4, Gonzalez said he is advising clients, “If you have a spouse who is a legal permanent resident, they need to apply for naturalization and have them become U.S. citizens.”
He said only spouses, not children, can be used to qualify for visas.
Jorge Gonzalez said he will take his citizenship test this week so that he can help his wife and three children finally get their visas.
The family’s only breadwinner said it’s been a long wait for this opportunity.
“We’re a little more at peace,” he said.
His wife, Mireya, said, “We’ll wait on God and President Obama.”