January 3, 2012: With an eye to ending the disruption of families, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) director, Alejandro Mayorkas, at left, announced today that the Obama Administration has ruled that "thousands" of foreign spouses and children can stay with their U.S. citizen relatives while applying for green cards. The law will be entered in the Federal Register tomorrow, January 4, and will take effect March 4, 2013.
...Under the new process, which goes into effect on March 4, some immediate relatives - including the spouse, parent or minor child of a U.S. citizen - can apply for the waiver in the United States before they have to go back to their country for the immigrant visa interview.
The new rule doesn't affect whether or not the waiver is approved. It only allows the person to stay in the U.S. while it's being processed and people still have to prove that family separation will cause their American citizen extreme hardship.
Citizenship and Immigration Services received more than 23,000 waiver applications in fiscal year 2011, and completed about 21,000 cases....
Overall, the approval rate was 84 percent, and about three-fourths of the cases were processed within six months...People who already have been scheduled for their visa interview or those in deportation proceedings are not eligible to apply unless the case has been administratively closed.