April 2, 2012
Reporting from Washington — The Obama administration is proposing to make it easier for illegal immigrants who are family members of American citizens to apply for legal permanent residency.
On Monday, the Department of Homeland Security will post for public comment an administrative change intended to reduce the time illegal immigrants would have to spend away from their families while applying for legal status, officials said. The current system requires the applicant to first leave the U.S. to seek a legal visa, but under the proposed change illegal immigrants could claim the time apart from a spouse, child or parent would create “extreme hardship” and allow them to remain in the U.S. as they begin the process.
Once approved, the person would be required to briefly leave the country to pick up the legal visa abroad.
Currently, families are often separated for several months as they await resolution of their applications. The change could reduce that time apart to one week in some cases, officials said. The White House hopes the new procedures could be in place by the end of the year.