Undergoing a consular process just became much easier for many undocumented immigrants inside the United States. On Jan. 2, 2013, the final rule was announced that starting on March 4, 2013, immigrants will be able to obtain a hardship waiver of unlawful presence while remaining inside of the United States. Under the current process, immigrant’s family members file a petition for a visa and the immigrant must leave the United States in order to undergo an interview at a U.S. Embassy. However, because undocumented immigrants have remained inside of the United States for more than six months, they have aquired “unlawful presence”. The penalty for unlawful presence can be 3 to 10 years before the immigrant is eligible to return to the United States. There is a waiver for this penalty, but it must be applied for at the interview. Upon application, the immigrant must then wait for months for the waiver to be approved or denied. This wait time outside of the U.S. causes hardship on families. The new rule will allow families to apply for this waiver and have it approved before the immigrant leaves for their interview. Instead of spending months outside of the U.S., the immigrant show up a couple days before the interview, has a medical exam, and then recieves their visa enabling them to become legal permanent residents. This is a difference of a week instead of months or years. This will enable thousands of immigrants an opportunity that was previously an impossibility. For the past several months, clients have been filing their I-130 petitions and waiting for this final rule in order to complete a consular process. Exciting news! Call my office to find out if this new rule applies to your case. (801) 436-7529.