Hi, I’m Jennifer with Walker Gates Vela. Today’s question comes from Jose in Waco, Texas. He says, if I’m applying for my residency, do I still have to leave the United States and go to my home country to get it?
This is a good question that a lot of people wonder about. The answer, of course, is maybe. Let me explain. If you enter the United States without a visa, then you probably need to get a waiver in order to become a resident. In early 2013, the Immigration Service changed the way that it processes applications for these waivers. Before, applicants for waivers had to wait outside the United States while Immigration was making a decision on the waiver.
Now, many applicants are eligible to apply for the waiver and wait for a decision here in the United States. So, if you enter the US without permission and you need a waiver, you still have to travel to your home country to get your residency. But the amount of time that you will have to be there is a lot less than it was before if you are eligible to apply for the waiver using the new process. Most people are only outside the United States for a week or two now; whereas before, the wait outside the country was sometimes a year or more.
The only people who can use the new waiver process are spouses of US citizens who only need the waiver because of an unlawful entry and not for any other reason.
Husbands and wives of permanent residents may apply for residency, but they cannot use the new waiver process. Spouses and other family members of residents and US citizens still have to wait outside the United States while their waivers are processed. Also, people who need a waiver for anything other than an unlawful entry cannot use the new waiver process. For example, if you need a waiver because you have a criminal record, you cannot use the new waiver process and you’ll have to wait outside the United States for your waiver application to be adjudicated.
If you would like assistance determining whether you qualify to apply for a waiver and how it will be adjudicated, call us at (512) 633-1785 in Austin or in Corpus Christi at (361) 356-4502 to schedule a consultation. We look forward to meeting you and learning about your case.
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