Feds Announce New Immigration Waiver Program

Jan 2, 2013

Federal authorities have announced a new policy to help some families stay together during the immigration process. The change is likely to have an impact on tens of thousands of families.

Some undocumented immigrants who marry US citizens, for example, face a dilemma. To get a green card, they must go back to their home country, and apply for a visa from there. But once these immigrants leave the US, they can be barred from coming back in for years. If they can prove separation from a US citizen family member will cause extreme hardship, they can get a waiver to come back sooner, but it still takes several months. 

The new policy, which takes effect in March, seeks to reduce that family separation to a matter of weeks, by allowing immigrants to apply for waivers from the US. 

Alejandro Mayorkas, Director of the US Citizenship and Immigration Service, said "This new process facilitates the legal immigration process and reduces long periods of separation between US citizen and their immediate relatives."

Mayorkas says he expects this change will increase the number of green card applicants.