If you read my earlier blog, called “Hopeful News for Immigrating Spouses of U.S. Citizens Stalled by the 3- and 10 Year Time Bars for Unlawful Presence,” you hopefully learned two things:
- I sometimes give up on presenting complex immigration law matters in a short, catchy headline, and
- the hopeful news discussed, namely the opportunity to apply for a time-bar waiver BEFORE, not after leaving the U.S., had NOT happened yet.
And it still hasn’t happened, though USCIS is working on figuring out the exact procedures. Which is particularly important to know given that, according to suggestions by USCIS, scammers are already out there taking people’s money to file this supposed new waiver. A USCIS press release issued on February 22 explains:
These procedures are not in effect and will not be available to potential applicants until USCIS publishes a final rule in the Federal Register specifying the effective date. USCIS plans to publish a notice of proposed rulemaking in the coming months and will consider all comments received as part of that process before publishing a final rule.
· Do not send an application requesting a provisional waiver at this time. USCIS will reject any application requesting this new process and we will return the application package and any related fees to the applicant. USCIS cannot accept applications until a final rule is issued and the process change becomes effective.
· Be aware that some unauthorized practitioners of immigration law may wrongly claim they can currently file a provisional waiver application (Form I-601) for you. These same individuals may ask you to pay them to file such forms although the process is not yet in place. Please avoid such scams. USCIS wants you to learn the facts about protecting yourself and your family against scammers by visiting www.uscis.gov/avoidscams.
If you already have an immigrant visa interview with the U.S. Department of State, we strongly encourage you to attend. The Department of State may cancel your immigrant visa registration if you fail to appear at this interview.
Keep your eyes on this blog and the headlines for news of when the new waiver is actually available — and the form to go with it. Scammers who attempt to file for this waiver on your behalf will most likely use the standard waiver Form I-601; but USCIS has indicated that it will likely create a new form just for this waiver.
And before you believe a supposed attorney or other practitioner, check out his or her bar membership (it might be in another state than your — that’s okay) and interview more than one lawyer before choosing one.