This last Wednesday, the Obama administration announced a rule change that eases the path to permanent residency for many illegal immigrants in our country. This new rule, which was issued by the Homeland Security Department, allows these immigrants to stay with their families during most of the process involved with applying for permanent residency. Many unauthorized immigrants are separated from the U.S. citizen family members during this lengthy process, sometimes for up to ten years.
The rule was first proposed in April, but never made it through Congress. Now, the Obama administration is using its executive powers to implement this rule without Congress passing a reform law. In the past, U.S. citizens were able to obtain green cards for minor children or foreign-born spouses pretty easily, but if the immigrants entered the United States illegally they had to return to their native countries to retrieve their visas from the U.S. consulate there. Unfortunately, once illegal immigrants return they are barred from returning to the United States for up to ten years under a 1996 statute unless they obtain a pardon. This statute is known as the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, and has received criticism for its constitutional issues and deportation issues.
As a result of this new law which goes into effect on March 4th, unauthorized immigrants who are eligible for legalization will not be forced to leave the country until they obtain permanent residency
if they can prove that leaving their American spouse, child or parent would create "extreme hardship". Under this new rule, the immigrant would only be required to leave the United States for a brief period of time in order to pick up their visa from their native country.
Proponents of this new rule say that it saves families money and makes it easier to maintain continuity within a family during all of the changes and stress that comes with immigration. Countless Mexicans will benefit from the implementation of this new rule, as many of them are currently required to report to the U.S. Consulate in Juarez in order to meet with a consular official. Juarez is one of Mexico's most violent cities and this trip can be extremely dangerous. As of now, the federal immigration agency has not provided a specific definition of what "extreme hardship" means, even though legal aid organizations have requested that they clarify the phrase.
It is anticipated that one of the immediate effects of this new law will be a large influx of additional applications for permanent residency. To learn more about the immigration process and how you can achieve citizenship, do not hesitate to contact a Dallas immigration attorney at Mathur Law Offices.