Proposed Rule Could Expand the Number of Undocumented Individuals Allowed to Stay in the Country


The Obama administration is advancing forward with plans to expand a waiver program that will allow additional undocumented individuals to remain in the U.S. rather than apply for legal status from abroad.

The Department of Homeland Security issued a proposed rule that would make additional changes to the waiver program created by President Obama’s executive action on immigration back in 2013. The action created a waiver that primarily allowed undocumented individuals with a U.S. citizen spouse or parent to stay in the country instead of having to leave the country and be barred from returning for three to ten years, if they proved their absence would create an “extreme hardship” for their spouse.

The new rule expands the eligibility to a host of other categories of undocumented people beyond those with citizen spouses and parents.

“DHS proposes to expand the class of aliens who may be eligible for a provisional waiver beyond immediate relatives of U.S. citizens to aliens in all statutorily eligible immigrant visa categories,” the proposed rule stated. “Such aliens include family-sponsored immigrants, employment-based immigrants, certain special immigrants, and Diversity Visa program selectees, together with their derivative spouses and children.”

An undocumented person, who lives in the country for less than one year and then leaves, is barred from reentering the country for three years. Any time spent illegally in the country after one year results in the undocumented person to be inadmissible for ten years. The waiver program allowed these individuals to remain in the country and avoid these penalties.

The proposed rule would also extend the category of those whom an undocumented individual can claim their absence from the U.S. would create an “extreme hardship”. Previously, the waiver could only be given if the undocumented person has a spouse or parent who is an American citizen.

The agency said the rule is intended to “prioritize the family reunification of immediate relatives of U.S. citizens over other categories of aliens.”