06 January 2012

Obama to allow undocumented to stay during US visa application

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President Barack Obama's administration plans to announce a new proposed regulation which would reduce the time the spouses and children of illegal immigrants are separated, and in certain cases even allow them to remain in the country while trying to secure legal status.

US visa

President Obama's administration plans are intended to ease the stress of applying for a US visa.

Currently, people living in America without a US visa who leave the country to apply for a green card are typically expected to wait for up to 10 years before they are permitted to apply. The time period required is often dependent on how long that person has resided in the US, with the wait sometimes being as much as 10 years.

The new proposal will allow an illegal immigrant's relatives to request a waiver on the re-entry requirements, particularly if they can prove that the absence of their family member will cause undue hardships or strain on them. The process is similar to that of the one already in place, except that immigrants currently have to travel to a consular office abroad and begin a lengthy process that could take months or even years.

The majority of waiver applications are currently filed on the US-Mexico border in Ciudad Juarez; a city which according to the US State Department has the highest murder rate in Mexico, prompting the State Department to urge people to "defer non-essential travel" to the area.

The proposal has come in the wake of President Obama's call to overhaul the US immigration system in order to tackle the US's 11 million illegal immigrants. However, while the measure’s intentions may seem considerately pragmatic, critics have derided the move as simply a way of shoring up votes from the Latino constituency, of which the vast majority of illegal immigrants consist of, in an election year.

The American Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people with their ESTA visa application.

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