Helena Santos entered the U.S. though the Mexican border in 2005. Years later she married an American citizen. They now have three children together. Helena’s husband took her to an immigration lawyer in order make her legal in the United States. To his surprise, he was told that because she entered the U.S. without a proper inspection, she could not receive her legal status in the U.S. She would have to go home to her country of birth, Brazil for the interview. As further complication, the lawyer informed the husband that his wife would not be able to return to the U.S. unless she remained out for 10 years. Devastated, the couple continued their search for an immigration attorney that could help them. They finally found one such attorney who explained to them that there is a special waiver called a 601A waiver, that would allow the wife to leave the U.S. for an interview and return a few weeks later with legal papers.
According to Moses Apsan, Esq., past president for the Federal Bar Association for the New Jersey chapter, practicing in the field of U.S. immigration laws for the past 35 years, “there is a waiver called a Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver (601A) that has helped thousands of families since it was created in March 4, 2013.” As Attorney Apsan explains, “You can get legal status if you entered Illegally and married a U.S. Citizen or a Green Card Holder or you are the son or daughter of a lawful permanent resident, even, in some cases, if you were ordered deported.”
Since 1997, the immigration laws became very strict, requiring spouses and children of U.S. citizens and legal residents who entered the U.S. illegaly, to journey abroad and have an interview at the U.S. consulate, before they are permitted to return to the U.S. Prior to returning, they would request from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) a 601 waiver of inadmissibility. Without a grant of of this waiver, the applicant would not be allowed return to the U.S. for a period of no less than three years. In most cases they are barred for 10 years. Even though they were entitled to apply for the waiver, they had to wait out of the U.S. until the waiver was granted, separating families for months and at times, years.
In March of 2013, a new provisional illegal presence waiver (I-601A) was approved by executive order. The primary difference between the old 601 waiver and the new 601A waiver is that the application can be made while the undocumented immigrant remains in the U.S.
The waiver procedure now permits eligible people to apply for a provisional unlawful presence waiver while they remain in the U.S. and before they travel for immigrant visa interview overseas.
According to Moses Apsan, “once the waiver is approved and an interview is scheduled, you can be on your way back to the U.S. in as little as 3 weeks. Approximately 30 days later they arrive, the Green Card (legal residency status document), is received in the mail. The nightmare of being separated, is no longer a threat.”