New green card policy could allow families to stay intact

Imagine living in fear that at any time your spouse may be deported. For many couples living in Los Angeles, this is a reality that they have to face every day of their lives. The feeling of unease and constantly looking over your shoulder can take its toll. Being constantly on guard is no way to live your life.

According to current family immigration policies, in order to receive a green card, an undocumented person is required to return to their own country, where he or she must stay until the card is issued. However, when a couple has children, this can present a number of challenges. One husband, a citizen of the U.S., says that his children would be left alone if his wife was forced to return to Mexico. As a member of the military, his work schedule does not allow him to be at home at all times to care for his children.

Fortunately, an upcoming change in an existing policy will allow the wife to remain in the United States while she applies for a green card. Starting in March, undocumented spouses can apply for the I-601A-waiver, which is designed to assist spouses and other family members. To qualify for the waiver, applicants must show that a U.S. relative would experience “extreme hardship” if the applicant is required to leave the country.

The goal of the new policy is to keep families together during the application process. This will help to minimize strain on relationships and allow individuals to be there to care for their family members.

Source: KPBS, “Policy Change to Ease Green Card Process for Undocumented Spouses of U.S. Citizens,” Megan Burke, Maureen Cavanaugh and Peggy Pico, Jan. 7, 2013