Standing for United American Families

Proposed change in key immigration procedure will keep thousands of families from cruel separation

Los Angeles – The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office announced Friday it is introducing a limited, common sense procedural change that will allow certain visa applicants to file their family unity waivers in the United States.  Currently, U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents face unnecessary and dangerous bureaucratic hurdles in obtaining lawful permanent resident status for their spouse, child, parent, or sibling.  They have to file a visa petition, and once the petition is approved and the visa appointment scheduled, the qualifying loved one has to travel to a U.S. consulate in their home country to be interviewed.   Departure itself triggers a 3-or-10 year bar to re-entry to the U.S. for many applicants (those who are undocumented and who have been living in the U.S. for more than 6 months).  The necessary waiver of the bar must be applied for while the applicant is waiting in the home country. The decision on the waiver often takes weeks, months or even over a year to be completed.   Meanwhile, families are separated and spouses and children are forced to wait in potentially dangerous situations until a waiver decision is made and then can complete their visa processing and return to the U.S. with their lawful permanent resident document (“green card”).

The following is a statement from Angelica Salas, executive director for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA).

“While limited in scope, the proposed in-country family unity waiver processing change is a welcome rational solution to a simple problem.  By gently adjusting how USCIS processes family unity waivers, thousands upon thousands of families will remain together.

CHIRLA applauds the Obama Administration for standing on behalf of families seeking to be reunited with their loved ones while their visa application process moves forward.  The American people understand the value of a strong and united family and that’s precisely why US citizens and lawful permanent residents can apply for “green cards” for a spouse and children and unite their families.  For too many years, arbitrary bureaucracy has forced many US citizens to be separated from wives, husbands, and children for weeks, months, even years.

The current family unity waiver process makes no sense, is cruel, and at times endangers the lives of those seeking a lawful visa.  There is no rational explanation as to why a husband, wife, or child must risk his or her life in a dangerous place outside of the United States waiting for a lawful status decision for which they qualify.

The in-country family unity waiver processing change will apply only to spouses and children of U.S. citizens but there is no valid reason not to extend the same processing opportunity to immediate family members of lawful permanent residents.  The same risks, dangers, and obstacles await these loved ones when they are forced to go abroad and wait for their waiver to be approved.”

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