U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services processing delays result in a lawsuit

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Immigration and citizenship laws are complicated, but advocates are upset about how long it takes U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to process unlawful presence waivers. So much so, the American Immigration Council recently filed suit against the Biden administration. For details, the Federal Drive with Tom Temin spoke with Kate Goettel, the council’s Legal Director of Litigation. Interview transcript: Tom Temin You are talking about something known as a waiver for unlawful presence. So this would be something, for example, if a refugee came in a hurry and needed to get into the country. There’s a process for ensuring that they can stay legally until a hearing. Tell us the process here. Kate Goettel Yeah. So this is mainly affecting people who have some period of unlawful status in the United States, who then go and marry either a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident. Because they have a period of unlawful status in the United States, they can’t immediately adjust their status based on that marriage. They have to exit the country and they have to go to a consulate abroad to get that visa. The problem is that for people who have a period of unlawful status, particularly those who’ve been here for a year or more, there’s going to be a bar that kicks that’s going to bar them from returning for three, or in most cases, ten years. So they can apply for a waiver of that bar. And in the olden days before 2013, they would have to do it from abroad as they were going through this consulate process, leaving them separated from their family for some period of time. In 2013, a new rule was enacted, by the Department of Homeland Security, that allowed them to do that here in the United States. Those waivers are what we’re suing over in this lawsuit.

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