New Immigration Waiver and its Impact on Employers
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security recently announced that certain foreign nationals who are in the U.S. who either entered the U.S. illegally, or entered legally and overstayed, will be eligible for waivers of the bar to receiving their immigrant visa from abroad. The program begins March 4, 2013 and only certain individuals will qualify.
As a brief background, most individuals must be in status in order to obtain a green card in the U.S. However, some individuals who either had no status or were out of status were nonetheless still able to do so if they had immigrant petitions filed by employers or certain family members prior to April 30, 2001. Individuals who were out of status and had immigrant petitions filed after April 30, 2001 are not eligible to adjust status in the U.S. to obtain permanent residency and must instead obtain an immigrant visa abroad from a U.S. Consulate.
Complicating matters was that Congress created a “ten-year bar” in 1996 whereby individuals who were out of status and then left the U.S. were not allowed to return for 10 years unless they can show extreme hardship to a U.S. Citizen spouse or parent. As a result, many people left the U.S. to file their waiver applications from abroad, only to get stuck abroad (usually at Ciudad Juarez, Mexico) for up to a year while their hardship waiver applications laggard in a long queue.
Fortunately, under the newly announced program, eligible individuals can apply for their waiver state side and then upon approval, they will only need to spend 2 weeks abroad.Eligible individuals must first have an approved immigrant petition filed by a sponsor and be able to show extreme hardship to a U.S. Citizen spouse or parent if the waiver of the 10-year bar is not approved. Ironically, a showing of extreme hardship to U.S. Citizen children does not qualify under the law as written by Congress back in 1996. Also, if an individual has other grounds of inadmissibility (crimes, prior deportation, misrepresentation etc.) then the I-601A waiver will not apply.
I posted this information based on calls regarding employers becoming sponsors. I have never personally been an advocate of employers sponsoring employees because I think it puts employers in the middle of an employee’s private business and possible legal entanglements. Just my opinion.
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