WASHINGTON, D.C.--(ENEWSPF)--January 6, 2012. SEIU applauds today's announcement by the Obama Administration to knock down bureaucratic obstacles for U.S. citizens who currently face hardship because their spouses cannot remain in the country legally.
The decision makes a small but significant change. It will allow spouses and a small number of adult children to apply for a hardship waiver from inside the U.S. instead of facing the risk of returning to their home countries to apply and being denied reentry into the U.S. for as long as 10 years. The risks, uncertainties and delays that come with applying for the visa from abroad create unnecessary burdens on families in hardship cases.
To qualify for the waiver, the U.S. citizen must show that she would suffer "extreme hardship" if forced to remain separated from a spouse or parent. Typical examples include U.S. citizens who are sick or disabled and are being cared for or supported by their immigrant spouse or parent.
The policy change to let immigrants in hardship cases remain in the U.S. while their applications for hardship wavers are reviewed was welcomed by SEIU's International Secretary-Treasurer Eliseo Medina in the following statement:
"Outdated laws and procedures should not keep families apart. The new process will lessen the burden on U.S. citizens, whose family members are afraid or unable to leave the country specifically because of the hardships they face. For example, a wife who is taking care of her citizen husband, a permanently disabled war veteran, will not have to choose between providing for her husband or leaving the country to apply for a green card, which carries the risk of being denied reentry for up to 10 years.
"This streamlined procedure also makes budgeting sense. Instead of having U.S. State Department officers posted overseas to shuttle applications back to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security here in Washington, the process and the costs will be cut.
"The Obama Administration is applying smart governing principles to a very simple problem and deserves credit for moving ahead in the absence of comprehensive immigration legislation from Congress. While just one small bureaucratic change will make a difference in the lives of families facing hardships, comprehensive reforms could vastly improve our economic, national and family security.