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State Side Waiver Finally Introduced in Immigration Law

New immigration rules, announced by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, create a waiver that bypasses an arcane Catch-22 in immigration law separating immigrant families for up to a decade.

Immigration reform is nearing, as a priority for President Obama for his second term in office. In August those who were brought to the United States under the age of 16, completed high school, and have no criminal record, were allowed to apply for legal work permits (and in Massachsuetts, driver’s licenses and access to in state tuition) bringing them somewhat out of the shadows of the only place they know as home.

Yesterday, the “state-side waiver” that has been in the works for over a year, was finally implemented – to take effect March 4th, 2013. ( NY Times peice on the topic, in case anyone would like further reading: http://nyti.ms/UdQPvZ ) Under US immigration laws a Husband/Wife can petition a green card for his or her foreign spouse. If that foreign spouse entered with a visa yet stayed, no matter how many years ago, that overstaying is forgiven upon marriage to a US Citizen and, if there are no other obstacles, that person is eligible for legal residency in the United States.

On the other hand, if the person entered without a Visa then there is no option to obtain a green card without leaving the United States. Yet, there is another law that punishes anyone who LEAVES the United States after being here illegally for over one year with a 10 year ban (implemented in 1996). So, you can see the dilema... The law requires some people to leave to re-enter legally, yet the moment they leave hits them with a ten year ban. There is a waiver to this 10 year ban but the person had to, until now, apply for it from abroad causing fathers or mothers to have to be apart from their children and families while in this limbo state of the unknown (will I get the waiver or not??) for months if not years. This law never made much sense as it requires the immigrant to leave the country to process his status yet, the moment he or she leaves, they are not allowed to return for 10 years. It required the immigrant to attend an immigration interview at the US Consulate abroad knowing that he or she will be denied and told to apply for the waiver. Then the application would be submitted (having been carefully construed over the previous months in preparation for this moment) and the immigrant waits, months and months, for a decision on that waiver.

Obviously, this does not encourage the immigrant to go through the legal avenue as it means abandoning thier family for XX months and not being certain about ever being able to come back to them. Not only is this not a good option for many people but in most cases it is not an option at all. A family simply cannot lose the breadwinner (and pay for the process at the same time in addition to their expenses) or primary caretaker for that long.

A year ago a proposed change was introduced to allow the person to submit the waiver before leaving the United States to go to the interview abroad (making sure no other issues, such as a criminal record exist) to immigrate to the United States. This would allow for the person to wait for a decision on his or her waiver without having to be separated from his or her family indefinitely. Yesterday, January 2nd, this process was at last finalized and will be further amended until applications are to be accepted stating March 4, 2013. What a good start to humane immigration reform and 2013. It is going to be a good year.

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Ed Bertorelli January 09, 2013 at 09:18 PM
Kira - thanks for the information.
Mark Cain January 12, 2013 at 02:20 PM
Birthright citizenship should be stopped and infact is everything this great country is about! http://capwiz.com/caps/issues/alert/?alertid=62328481
Robin L. Reardon January 12, 2013 at 11:55 PM
The face of immigration is much different today than it was years ago. This fact cannot be disputed. The standard norm today is NOT entering this country legally, obtaining citizenship, learning the language, learning the culture, obeying the law, and struggling to keep your head above water while taking care of your OWN family. There is not 1 factor to blame. There are multiple factors. The biggest one being our crooked government and politicians. I believe politicians start out "idealistic" but then become "realistic". The money, power and sometimes fame are too hard to give up. It's not immigration that's going to shatter this country. It's the government and politicians. Dirty selfish individuals. I 'like' my country. It's where I'm from. Where I work. Where I was born. I'm a tax payer and I obey the law. But you will NEVER hear me get on my patriotic high-horse AND then whine about the country and all it's issue in the same breath. I get so fed up hearing the country songs about blah, blah, blah. We know it's the $$ for them. And the listeners who follow them??? Really??? You love this country then you post your whiney little comments and stupid pictures about illegals, taxes and welfare on Facebook. Pick one side. And if you can't then write your Congressman, your Senator and get the frig out there and vote! I understand what you feel. I am affected too. Be part of the solution and quit being part of the problem.
Mark Cain January 13, 2013 at 01:49 AM
We are a nation of laws. Do you want to maker your own laws Lynn?
Kira Gagarin January 13, 2013 at 04:26 AM
Hi Lynn. Thanks so much for your thought through input. What do you think the standard of immigration to the US is today? Do you think its gotten harder to enter legally over the years or that the people who come here today have a different mindset somehow? Are the reasons people come here still the same or do you think those have changed as well? I believe that much of central America is deteriorating drastically and people are really desperate to escape the violence and despair - especially dangerous for young women. Its a very long, unpleasant, and extremely expensive journey to get here. I can't accept that people embark on it to avoid paying US taxes and to commit crimes. That isn't to say that some people don't commit crimes once here, but in my experience most are hard working people trying to get ahead and provide for their families. I'm a bit more optimistic than you regarding our politicians, though I complain with the best of them. I really like how you say to be part of the solution rather than moaning and groaning all day. I think, though, that most people don't take the time to understand the issues. They are just stuck in repeat about the same darn thing that doesn't make much sense in the real world.

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