US immigration shakeup to benefit unregistered spouses

US immigration shakeup to benefit unregistered spouses

US immigration shakeup to benefit unregistered spouses

Millions of US couples are banking on the new immigration rules finalised in January to legalise their undocumented spouses and children without having to be separated for years.

From March 4, the pathway for undocumented children and spouses of US citizens will be improved by the introduction of a temporary permission to stay prior to a visit to the native country for an immigration interview. Formerly, spouses and children ware forced to return to their country of origin and wait up to several years for formalities to be completed.

Under the new rules, those eligible can apply for a ‘provisional lawful presence waiver’ allowing them to stay within the family unit and avoid deportation for their illegal entry. According to the Department for Homeland Security, the old rules meant that many cases were not dealt with for over two years, during which time spouses and children were separated from their family units.

The visa interview in the home country will result in a permanent residency permit, provided all criteria are met. Eligibility, dependent on circumstances, will rest on evidence that a US citizen would suffer ‘extreme hardship’ through being separated from his/her spouse and/or children for a long period of time.

Health problems, education of children, loss of employment opportunities and many other criteria can count as extreme hardship. However, those who are already scheduled for a visa interview are still required to use the previous process and leave the US, causing families to be separated for months if not years.

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