Why the Family Unity Waiver Must be Implemented

On March 16, the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) submitted a letter to the Director of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) calling on rapid implementation of the Family Unity Waiver. The waiver is a soon-to-be proposed change in the rules to allow family members of U.S.  citizens to stay in their communities while they wait for a decision on their waiver toward a path to citizenship.  160 organizations from across the nation signed the letter to Alejandro Mayorkas urging for improvements to the proposed rule to ensure more families are kept together.

If fully implemented, the proposed rule that USCIS announced in January would be posted sometime this spring, and it would allow immediate family members of U.S. citizens to stay together as they wait for USCIS to process waivers of the three and 10-year bar to re-entry. Under current law, leaving the country triggers the bar to re-entry, and this creates a serious barrier for undocumented immigrants to come forward, since it could mean long-term separation from their loved ones.  Current law also creates major burdens on federal agencies and sometimes places immigrants applying for such waivers in harm’s way in their countries of origin.  The proposed change, once fully implemented, could keep hundreds of thousands of families together.

FIRM also called on USCIS to extend the proposed rule to include the immediate family members of Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs), whom USCIS originally excluded from their initial announcement in January.  FIRM also recommended that USCIS use this opportunity to review how it defines ‘hardship’ under the three and 10-year bar, and invited USCIS to work closely with community organizations to ensure effective implementation of the new regulation once it is finalized.

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