Currently, U.S. citizens who petition for their spouses and children to become legal
immigrants to the United States must petition for a visa, and in some circumstances, if the
spouse or child has accrued more than 180 days of unlawful presence in the U.S., that
spouse or child must also petition for a waiver of a ground of inadmissibility in order to
have his or her visa application processed. The proposed process does not change the
requirements for obtaining a visa or the standards for obtaining a waiver. Nor does it
change the requirement that the spouse or child of a U.S. citizen ultimately depart the
United States to have his or her visa application processed at a consulate abroad. The only
change contemplated by this proposal is that the spouse or child would be able to apply for
a waiver with USCIS in the U.S. and receive a provisional decision on that waiver before
departing the U.S. for consular processing of their immigrant visa applications. Currently,
applicants can only file for a waiver after having been determined inadmissible by the U.S.
consular officer and must wait abroad for a decision, which significantly adds to the
processing time for their case. The proposal limits the extent to which the process forces
the lengthy separation of families.