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Obama proposes change that makes permanent residency easier

Throughout North Carolina and the rest of the country, there are thousands of Americans married to people living in the country without legal permission. In order for these North Carolina families to be truly "legal" in the eyes of the federal government, the non-American spouse must return to his or her country of citizenship, obtain a visa and receive a green card. Unfortunately for many of the people who are living here without legal permission, leaving their family and the country could mean years of separation waiting to be readmitted into the country.

The Obama administration, however, has recently announced a proposed change that would allow illegal immigrants back into the country much quicker. For many of the people living here without legal permission, trying to regain entry into the United States is difficult because many people are barred from entering the United States for three or 10 years for their time spent in the United States illegally. Although some people do receive waivers to get around the bar, it often takes considerable time and effort.

The new policy would allow the immigrant spouse to apply for a provisional waiver before leaving the country. This would mean that many spouses would be able to leave the country, stay a few weeks in the country of their citizenship, just enough time to get a visa, and then be reunited with their family members. Many immigration lawyers agree that this will bring many families forward who had previously been hiding because of an immigration status.

President Obama's new policy was announced earlier this month. While it has not yet been implemented, a notice was published in The Federal Register stating that a new regulation was being prepared. The director of the Citizenship and Immigration Services hopes the rule will be in place by the end of the year.

Source: The New York Times, "Tweak in Rule to Ease a Path to Green Card," Julia Preston, Jan. 6, 2012

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