AILA Applauds Plans for a Revised Immigration Waiver Process

Friday, January 6, 2012

Contact: George Tzamaras

Amanda Walkins

AILA Applauds Plans for a Revised Immigration Waiver Process

New Rule Change to Help Reduce the Time Spouses and Children Are Separated From U.S. Citizen Relatives While They Complete the Process for Legal Status in the United States

WASHINGTON, DC – The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) applauds the Department of Homeland Security's announcement today of a proposed process change that would allow spouses and children of U.S. citizens who are in the U.S. but need a waiver of unlawful presence in order to get a green card to apply for that waiver within the U.S.

Under the current system, the waiver application must be submitted in the immigrant's home country. This proposed rule change will allow spouses and children of U.S. citizens to apply for a provisional waiver of unlawful presence while remaining in the U.S., which keeps families together and minimizes the time they could be separated during the process. If the waiver is granted, the foreign national will then leave the U.S., apply for his or her immigrant visa abroad, and return to his or her loved ones in a shorter amount of time. The change will give countless American families a chance to stay together safely and legally.

"Although this is just a small part of dealing with the dysfunction of our immigration system, it represents a significant change in process for many individuals," said Eleanor Pelta, president of AILA. "It's a move that will be less destructive to families and bring about a fairer and more streamlined waiver process. Right now people who have accumulated unlawful presence in the U.S. who leave the country to apply for a green card have to wait abroad, often for months or years.

"This adjustment to the rule is important," Pelta added, "because it will literally save lives. Unfortunately, most waiver applications are filed in Ciudad Juarez on the U.S.-Mexico border, an extremely dangerous city these days, and more than one applicant has been murdered or seriously harmed while waiting there."

AILA also considers the proposed action to be smart enforcement because it will allow the Department of Homeland Security to better focus its resources on keeping America secure and safe.


The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 12010648.