US expands visa waiver process

The US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has announced a final rule to expand the existing provisional visa waiver process.

Once officially passed at the end of this month, certain individuals who are family members of US citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs), and who are statutorily eligible for immigrant visas, will be more easily able to navigate the immigration process.

The provisional visa waiver process promotes family unity by reducing the time that eligible individuals are separated from their family members while they complete immigration processing abroad.

The final rule builds on a process established in 2013 designed to support family unity.  Under that process, certain immediate relatives of US citizens are able apply for provisional visa waivers, based on the extreme hardship their US citizen spouses or parents would suffer if the waiver were not granted.

Until now, only immediate relatives of US citizens were eligible to seek such provisional waivers before departing the United States for the processing of their immigrant visas. Those eligible for the provisional waiver process under the 2013 rule are only a subset of those eligible for the waiver under the latest statute. This regulation expands eligibility for the process to all individuals who are statutorily eligible for the waiver.

To qualify for a provisional waiver, applicants must establish that their US citizen or lawful permanent resident spouses or parents would experience “extreme hardship” if the applicants are not allowed to return to the United States.

The new changes come into effect on 29th August. Applicants should not submit a request for a provisional waiver under the expanded guidelines before this date.  If you do, USCIS may deny the application.

Article published 2nd August 2016