Just announced last week, the Obama administration has made a change to immigration policy that will take effect March 4 of this year. This change will impact those individuals that are undocumented immigrants and that also are the spouse, parent or child of a U.S. citizen. Under previous U.S. immigration law, these individuals were required to leave the country and their family as they applied for residency. In most instances, this meant leaving a job and causing great stress on family members of the individual forced to leave, as well as the individuals themselves.
Sometimes this departure would mean months apart. Under the policy change, undocumented immigrants that are parents, children or spouses of a U.S. citizen will no longer have to return to their home country as they apply for residency, although the individual would still be required to leave for visa interviews. Unfortunately, this coverage does not protect family members of individuals that are legal residents but non-citizens.
Immigration officials remain unsure of the exact number of individuals this immigration policy change will impact, but hope that this will encourage more individuals that are unauthorized to apply for legal residency. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services director, “The law is designed to avoid extreme hardship to U.S. citizens, which is precisely what this rule achieves.”
Applying for residency can be a stressful and often confusing process as individuals navigate the necessary prerequisites, paper work and changing policies. Speaking with an experienced immigration attorney can greatly aid an individual in fully understanding their circumstances and options.
Source: The Press-Enterprise, “IMMIGRATION: New rule means less time away from families,” David Olson, Jan. 2, 2012
- Our firm has experience assisting individuals in similar situations in the Washington, D.C. area. For more information, please refer to our citizenship page.