The Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) just announced a new regulation that will go into effect on August 29, 2016 that expands the rules for Provisional Waivers. Before 2013, when someone had accumulated unlawful presence in the United States for over 6 months or a year, they needed to file a waiver after they had their interview at the consulate outside the United States. This often meant that the applicant had to wait outside the United States and away from their family for extended periods of time. Moreover, it was incredibly stressful going to an interview knowing that it was possible their waiver might be denied. For this reason, many people chose to not bother with legalizing their status because they were afraid they would end up only separating themselves from their loved ones for potentially ten years.
In 2013, DHS began allowing immediate relatives (spouse, parent, child) of U.S. citizens to be able to apply for the waiver while still in the United States. This was done in many ways to address the fears that many people had in going forward with a consulate interview. However, the provisional waiver was limited in that legal residents could not use the provisional waivers. However, with the new rule, spouses of legal residents will be able to use the provisional waiver as well showing hardship to parents. This essentially means the provisional waiver is the same as the “normal” waiver that used to be filed after the consulate interview. Stayed tuned as new information is released.