On July 15, 2012, the Department of Homeland Security announced a new deferred action program for certain individuals who came to the United States as children and who meet educational, continuous presence, and other key requirements. Under this program, known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, eligible individuals may request deferred action and work authorization for a period of two years, which is subject to renewal. At this time, the program does not provide applicants with legal status, it simply places them in a period of authorized stay during which any removal action is deferred.
In January 2013, the Department of Homeland Security published a rule for how certain undocumented relatives of U.S. citizens apply for a waiver of the time they were in the U.S. without permission. The new state-side waiver rule will result in significantly shorter periods of family separation by allowing a green card applicant to apply for and receive an approved waiver before leaving the U.S. for the consular interview. As a result, the time that the applicant for permanent residence will have to spend outside the U.S. could be shortened to as little as a week. However, not all foreign nationals who have a U.S. citizen immediate relative (spouse, parent, child over 21 years of age) will benefit from this rule.
To be eligible for the new waiver, an individual must meet the following criteria:
It is important to note that the program is only available when there is hardship to a U.S. citizen spouse or parent, not a lawful permanent resident spouse or parent. An individual may become eligible for the program even if they are in removal proceedings if they are able to successfully petition the government to administratively close their removal proceedings and they meet the other eligibility requirements.
Individuals are not eligible for an unlawful presence waivers if they meet the following criteria:
Immigration will begin accepting applications for the new waivers on March 4.