This week in my "Consulta Migratoria" column published online by several impreMedia publications, including LaOpinión.com, I continue to explain what the provisional waiver to the punishment law is and how to apply for this new immigration benefit. Here is the column:
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) yesterday, March 4, 2013, began accepting applications for the Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver. As I explained last week, it will be a difficult process.
Remember, not every undocumented immigrant is eligible to apply for this immigration benefit.
Here are some important additional facts you should know about the provisional pardon to the law of punishment:
1. Only benefits immediate family members of citizens, not permanent residents.
2. People who are abroad and who have already applied for the punishment law pardon cannot take advantage of this new immigration benefit.
All applicants for provisional waivers must demonstrate "extreme hardship" to a U.S. citizen spouse or parent, whether economic, health or humanitarian, among others.
4. Persons who must apply for permission to re-enter the U.S. after having been deported from the country are not eligible to apply for a provisional waiver.
5. Persons who have been granted a provisional waiver of the punishment law may not apply for permanent residence in the U.S.
6. USCIS recommends that anyone who already has an interview for an immigrant visa abroad keep their appointment. If they do not show up for their appointment, their case may be cancelled. Consult with an immigration attorney before proceeding.
7. The filing or approval of a provisional pardon to the law of punishment does not permit the following:
* Provide interim benefits, such as a work permit or the ability to travel outside the country (Advance Parole).
* Provide legal status.
* Stop the accumulation of illegal presence.
* Provide protection against deportation.
* Eliminate the requirement to leave the United States in search of an immigrant visa.
* To guarantee the issuance of visas or admission to the United States.
How to apply for provisional pardon to the law of punishment:
The undocumented immigrant must complete Form I-601A, Application for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver.
All applicants will be required to provide fingerprints for a criminal background check. Generally, USCIS will not interview the provisional waiver applicant unless necessary.
The fee is $585 plus $85 for fingerprints. There is no fee waiver for this procedure.
A provisional waiver that is approved will remain valid as long as the immigrant visa petition (I-130 or I-360) is not revoked. If the U.S. Department of State cancels the visa registration process or denies the visa petition, the provisional waiver is revoked.
The USCIS decides whether to approve or deny an application for a provisional waiver of the punishment law. If USCIS denies the application, the applicant may NOT appeal the decision. However, USCIS reserves the right to reconsider and reopen a case on its own if circumstances warrant.
If your application for a provisional waiver is denied, the USCIS can place you in deportation proceedings if it deems it appropriate. Generally, people who have criminal records and are considered a danger to the national security of the country, and people who have prior deportations are a high priority for deportation.
Please note that all persons who do NOT qualify for a provisional waiver must travel out of the country to apply for permanent residence and apply for a waiver to reenter the U.S.
If you re-enter the U.S. illegally after a provisional waiver has been approved, the waiver approval is automatically revoked.
It is extremely important to consult with an immigration attorney before beginning the process for permanent residency to be sure that you meet all the requirements. Do not go to notarios, immigration consultants, paper fillers or multi-services. The law prohibits these people from giving legal advice.