Discussion Points for Punto Legal- August 10, 2016

1. Visa Bulletin. The September 2016 visa bulletin is out. The cut-off date for spouses and children of residents from Mexico is 1 September 2014; last month is was the same. So no forward movement. The cut-off date for brothers and sisters of citizens from Mexico is 22 April 1997; last month is was 15 April 1997. So for the first time in months, there is one week of forward progress.

2. Provisional Waivers. As I said last week, we have some good news in the immigration world. The provisional waiver program has been expanded to include immigrants in all family-based categories.

This provisional or stateside waiver program has been very successful. It started in 2013. Thousands of spouses of citizens-who would not have traveled to the U.S. Consulate in Juarez to fix their papers-have done so because they can get the waiver they need before they go to Juarez. They have only had to spend one to two weeks in Mexico to get their green cards.

The approval rate for spouses who have applied for the provisional waiver is 74%. Of those spouses who have traveled to Juarez with an approved provisional waiver, 98% have been approved at the consulate. In other words, 98% of the time, no other problems were found at the consulate.

At Ted Hess and Associates, we have an outstanding record of obtaining provisional and regular waivers for people in the Latino community.

Now, there are limitations on the program. First, you have to have a U.S. spouse or parent as the qualifying relative for the waiver. For example, if you have a 21-year-old, U.S.-born child who files an immigrant petition for you, but no U.S. spouse or parent, your child is not a qualifying relative for a waiver. Second, the provisional waiver program only applies to the three- and ten-year unlawful presence bars to entry.

For example, let's say Jose Luis, who is married to a citizen, has a conviction for forgery because he used a fake social security card. He can't get a crime waiver in the U.S. He would have to go to Juarez and apply for a crime waiver in Mexico and wait in Mexico until it is approved.

Here is an example of how the provisional waiver program works. Hector entered the U.S. without inspection in 2004. He met and married Leticia who is a resident. Leticia wants to immigrate Hector. She files an I-130 Petition for Alien Relative. Hector has to go to the U.S. Consulate in Juarez to fix his papers. Before he goes to Juarez, he can file for the provisional or stateside waiver of his unlawful presence bar to entry, and know-before he goes-whether or not he got the waiver. Of course, if he does not get the waiver, he does not travel to Juarez.

Here is an example of how the provisional waiver program works. Jose Luis entered the U.S. on visa in 2005. He met and married Claudia who is a resident. Claudia has not been a resident for five years, so she can't apply for citizenship. Thus, the entry on a visa is of no help to Jose Luis. He has to go to Juarez to fix his papers, but he has heard a lot of bad stories about people seeking waivers after they go to Juarez. But the provisional waiver solves his problem. He can obtain the waiver in the U.S. and will only have to spend 6-12 days in Juarez.

Sergio is 20 years old. Sergio's mother brought him to the U.S. illegally when he was five years old. His mother divorced Sergio's father and remarried a man who is now Sergio's step-father. This took place when Sergio was 15. Sergio's step-father is a resident. He files an I-130 Petition for Alien Relative for Sergio. Sergio will have to go to Juarez to fix his papers. But he can apply for the provisional waiver before he goes to Juarez. His waiver will be based on showing an extreme hardship to his step-father and his mother, if she has become a resident.

Graciela entered the U.S. without inspection in 1994. She had a son, Wilfredo, born in the U.S. in 1995. He just turned 21, and filed an immigrant petition for his mother. Graciela has to fix her papers in Juarez and will trigger the 10-year bar to entry when she departs the U.S. Fortunately for her, her father became a resident in 2015, so she has a qualifying relative for the provisional waiver. She will have to prove her father will experience extreme hardship if she does not get the waiver. If Graciela did not have a U.S. resident parent, she would not have a qualifying relative and could not apply for the waiver.

Leidy came to the U.S. in 1999 from El Salvador. She married a U.S. citizen and became a resident, then a citizen. She filed an I-130 Petition for Alien Relative for her brother, Wilmer, on September 2, 2003. That petition became current nine days ago on 1 August 2016. Wilmer came to the U.S. illegally in 2002. He has to go to San Salvador to fix his papers. Fortunately for Wilmer, Leidy has already immigrated Wilmer's mother to the U.S. Wilmer can thus apply for the provisional waiver based on an extreme hardship to his mother.