Perhaps a brief explanation is order for the rest of us! Many immigrant family members find themselves with a serious problem. They realize that, although they qualify for sponsorship by an LPR spouse, because they entered the country illegally, they are no allowed to convert from non-immigrant status to LPR status without first obtaining a waiver (called an I-601) allowing them to be forgiven for entering, and remaining in, the country illegally.
Living in the US illegally triggers a 3 or 10 year bar, depending on how long you remained here illegally (<1 year = 3 year bar; >1 year = 10 year bar). You cannot be sponsored until you have spent that time outside of the country. In order to avoid the "bar", and immigrant must file an I-601 "waiver" form with the consulate in their home country. Note the location of filing -- the consulate in his/her home country (although this recently changed to allow stateside filing of the forms, the process for the immigrant was still the same). Under a standard 601, An immigrant with a 3 or 10 year bar is required to leave the country after filing an I-601. The term for this is "consular processing." If the immigrant can show extreme hardship, the bar is lifted, and the immigrant may re-enter the country legally. It can take anywhere from 6 to 8 months for a determination to be made on an I-601 application -- and the entire time, the immigrant must wait in their home country.
For many years, there has been a great cry to have the I-601 process modified. Family members (specifically, spouses of US Citizens, children, and parents)have been sent home waiting for 601 waivers that have taken years -- effectively destroying the family or causing terrible problems. The USCIS has studied the problem for some time, and determined that allowing the illegal immigrant to remain in the country during the 601 waiver adjudication period would not unduly burden the USCIS system.
Therefore, beginning in March, illegal immigrants whose only problem is their status in the country at the time they filed their I-130/I-485 package are elligible for expidited, in situe processing of their I-601. The new form allowing this is called an I-601A. The immigrant does not have to leave the country until the waiver is approved -- and then he/she travels to his/her home country, retrieves the I-130/I-601A visa and returns home the next day. No (or minimal) delay!
This is a tremendous breakthrough for our clients, and for millions of undocumented, but otherwise eligible immigrants to become legal LPR and eventually citizens.
Do you need an immigration help? Are you here illegally and would like to convert?Call us immediately and let us stop the clock and review the case before your loved one is shipped out-of-country! With the new I-601A provisisons, you may qualify for preferred processing and get a work visa or legal documents much more quickly that you imagined!
Sean R. Hanover, Esq