Late last week, USCIS published a final rule incorporating proposed changes from July of last year to the I-601A process. Many of proposed changes are now final and will become effective August 29, 2016. Of the many changes, the most significant are that the class of eligible applicants has been opened up to all individuals who are statutorily eligible for the unlawful presence waiver, not just immediate relatives of US Citizens. This means that immigrants in other preference based categories-family and employment-may now potentially apply for the I601A. Secondly, up until now, the provisional waiver was limited to immediate relatives who could demonstrate extreme hardship to a US Citizen spouse or parent. Under the new rule, extreme hardship may now be shown to a US Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident spouse or parent. Another change worth noting is that USCIS will no longer deny I-601A applications based on a “reason to believe” that the applicant may be inadmissible on other grounds, although, of course, it retains the right to deny cases as a matter of discretion. There are also some important technical changes pertaining to individuals with final orders of removal, exclusion, or deportation. How these changes will play out practically remains to be seen once implementation starts. Nevertheless, given the current state of immigration affairs and dwindling hope of immigration reform, these measures may open up alternative avenues of relief to thousands of immigrants currently in limbo due to the unlawful presence bar.
The foregoing is not legal advice nor intended to substitute for such. It does not create an attorney-client relationship nor should it be relied upon as a substitute for specific legal advice.