New rule would make it easier for immigrants to apply for legal status

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) introduced a proposed rule change today that would allow immigrants with U.S. citizen spouses to submit a waiver of inadmissibility before returning to their country to attend their immigrant visa interview.

Currently, spouses of U.S. citizens must leave the country to apply and are often barred from returning to their families for as long as 10 years. The new rule would allow many of them to get back to their families much quicker.

“This policy will save the lives of American citizens,” said U.S. Rep Jared Polis, D-Colorado. “Jake Martinez would be alive today if this had been in place. It’s past time that we reformed our immigration system so that families aren’t torn apart or sent off to dangerous cities like Juarez, Mexico as they wait to have their cases processed. Congress still must pass comprehensive immigration reform but this proposal is a welcome change over an unfair process that splits apart families and sends husbands, wives and children off to some of the most perilous parts of the world while their cases are heard.”

The case of Tania Nava Palacios of Colorado is a primary example of the danger inherent in the current process, Polis said in a press release. Nava Palacios was forced to depart Colorado and to live in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, with her U.S. citizen husband and son while USCIS adjudicated her I-601. Her husband, Jake Martinez, was killed in front of their home. The new process announced today for the adjudication of these waivers will prevent other families from the United States from suffering a similar fate, Polis’s office said.

Allowing these individuals to apply in the U.S. before they must depart the country would create a more predictable and transparent process while improving processing times, Polis said. It would also encourage individuals who may be eligible for permanent residency to apply for a waiver by reducing the amount of time they would need to spend away from their U.S. citizen spouse or parent.

Scot Kersgaard has been managing editor of a political newspaper, editor and co-owner of a ski town newspaper, executive editor of eight high-tech magazines (where he worked with current Apple CEO Tim Cook), deputy press secretary to a U.S. Senator, and an outdoors columnist at the Rocky Mountain News. He has an English degree from the University of Washington. He was awarded a fellowship to study internet journalism at the University of Maryland's Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. He was student body president in college. He spends his free time hiking and skiing.

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