Last week, we had another I-601A provisional waiver approved. This makes us 6 for 6, so far, with a few more pending. We have learned quite a bit in the past 18 months or so that we have done provisional waivers.
- Don’t underestimate your own hardship. We think that people endure a lot of hardship and have grown accustomed to it and accepted it as the normal state of affairs rather than recognizing that things could be better. We think that many people living with an undocumented spouse have come to accept the anxiety surrounding the risk of separation, financial ruin and uncertainty. Of course, this is a common human coping mechanism. As Bob Dylan sang, “I’ve never gotten used to it, I just learned to turn it off.” Many people that come into our office states that they can not point to any specific hardship that they would suffer if their spouse were forced to remain in their home country; they just know it would be bad. We have found that the sense merely scratches the surface and that by digging, speaking, and, most importantly, listening, the details of the hardship can be identified. Extreme hardship may be financial, emotional or health and safety related. It can be a combination of these factors or it can be the presence of a single form of hardship. The bottom line here is that too many people wrongly assume that they do not have the hardship to meet the standard and a honest and open conversation with an attorney can reveal hardship that an individual may have learned to turn off.
- The availability of the provisional waiver changes the game in removal proceedings. Many cases where the only relief has been a long-shot cancellation of removal are now strong provisional waiver cases. We have found that the government is willing to terminate and reopen cases where a good claim to a provisional waiver case can be made to ICE. These practices change from office to office, in fact, from ICE attorney to ICE attorney, but, as a general rule, we have found tremendous flexibility in removal proceedings for people who qualify for provisional waivers.
- The family is alive and well. Back in 2012, when DACA came out, we were heartened to see all the young people who came to our office with their parents to discuss how DACA could change their lives. The parents were always apprehensive and elated simultaneously to see the possibility that the dreams they had for their children being realized, if only partially. we decided then that the family is alive and well in America. With the provisional waiver, we are meeting all sorts of people who are raising families under the trying circumstances of one of the spouses lacking legal status. The lives that people have been able to build despite this challenge are impressive. However, the opportunity of obtaining lawful status opens up so many doors for families and removes the anxiety and stress of uncertainty over immigration.
- The National Visa Center remains a hold-up. The NVC has been good at putting a hold on immigrant visa processing where a provisional waiver has been filed. However, once the provisional waiver is approved, the NVC reverts to its standard practice of being an impediment, rather than a facilitator of orderly processing of immigrant visas. For example, one challenge we have seen relates to police clearances from El Salvador. According to the State Department, those police certificates must be obtained by the applicant in person in El Salvador. That’s fine, except for the case of provisional waivers, where the applicant is in the U.S. Since the NVC will not schedule an appointment until it has all the documents, this issue could force an applicant to return to El Salvador and wait several months for an interview, undermining the benefit of certainty that the provisional waiver is supposed to provide. We are working on this specific issue and will update this blog as circumstances merit.
- There is nothing better than solving this situation. When an individual goes to the Embassy, gets the visa, and returns to the U.S. as a permanent resident, we are lucky to be the first ones called. We share the joy and relief of our clients and can immediately see the reduction in tension in their lives. Getting to be a part of and a witness to that transformation is one of the great things about being an immigration lawyer.
Think you or someone you know may qualify for the provisional waiver? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-644-8600.