USCIS to expand existing exemption process
Posted on August 1, 2016
The USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) stated a final rule to include more individuals in the existing provisional exemption process to allow certain people who are US citizens’ family members and LPRs (lawful permanent residents), and who are legally eligible for immigrant visas, to go through the immigration process more easily. The provisional exemption process encourages family reunions by cutting down the time that qualified individuals spend away from their family members while they finish their immigration processing and also, in turn, boosts administrative efficiency.
Established in 2013 to encourage family reunions, this final rule works on that process. It ensures that some immediate relatives of American citizens can apply for provisional exemptions of the non-legal presence ground of unacceptability, to rid them of the intense hardship their US citizen’s spouses or parents would have to go through if they are not granted an exemption. The rule announced on 29 July, effective from 29 August, 2016, increases eligibility for the provisional exemption process to all individuals who are legally eligible for the non-legal presence ground of unacceptability. The USCIS is expecting to revise its policy manual for providing guidance on how it makes ‘extreme hardship’ decisions in the coming weeks.
As of date, only immediate relatives of American citizens were entitled to apply for such provisional exemptions before leaving the US for their immigrant visas processing. The new rule extends eligibility to all individuals who are legally eligible for a waiver for their visas to be processed.
Amendments to Form I-601A, Application for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver, are also made in the final rule.
Applicants should request a provisional exemption only under the expanded guidelines after the final rule becomes effective on 29 August, 2016.
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