Alert: change to punishment law not yet in force

This week in my column in La OpiniónI alert my readers to the danger of falling victim to notaries who are promising to process exemptions to the penalty law under the terms of a new proposal that has not yet entered into force.

I have recently received several calls from people who want to start the process for permanent residency without leaving the United States, even though they have entered or lived in the country undocumented and are not protected by the 245(i) law. I am immediately told that the government now allows this. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

There is a great deal of confusion regarding a recent proposed change to the law of punishment. The key word here is "proposal". It has yet to be approved. The so-called I-601 provisional waiver is not in effect and will not be available to potential applicants until a final regulation is published in the Federal Register specifying when it will go into effect.

In January of this year, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it was considering changes to the penalty law that would allow spouses, parents or unmarried children under the age of 21 of a U.S. citizen to receive a provisional waiver of the unlawful presence bars before leaving the United States.

This would mean that undocumented immediate family members of U.S. citizens who are pursuing permanent residency would be able to apply for a waiver (waiver) to the punishment law and find out if it will be approved before leaving the US. This would reduce the time of family separation while the process is underway.

It is not known when the new immigration policy will go into effect. There is also a chance that it will never be approved. But that has not stopped unscrupulous people from charging for the process, offering false hopes. So much so, that the USCIS has issued several alerts, warning people of possible fraud.

Avoid being scammed. Do not submit your application requesting an I-601 provisional waiver at this time, because USCIS will reject it and return the application package to you along with any payments you have made. USCIS cannot accept applications until the change in the process is officially approved, a final notice is issued in the Federal Register, and the effective date of the change is published.

Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don't be a victim of fraud. Do not seek legal advice from notaries or immigration consultants. Consult with an immigration attorney or a federally accredited representative to ensure that the correct procedures are being followed. Do not jeopardize your future in the U.S.