There’s big news in my corner of the immigration world. U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services in Ciudad Juarez, the place where the term paper of my life (on why it would be a hardship for me were my husband not allowed legal residency in the United States) is sitting on some overworked bureaucrat’s desk right now, has taken a large reformative step.
There has been talk on the forum about a mysterious “pilot program,” and the stunning details of it were both announced and put into action last week.
Before last Tuesday, when an intending immigrant had their visa interview and was found ineligible because of illegal presence, as happened to Fermin in August, the U.S. Citizen spouse was allowed to submit the infamous “Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility” and its trusty sidekicks “Hardship letter” and shitload-of-documentation packet the same day, or more recently, in a second interview scheduled a few weeks later.
Since Tuesday, at the immigrant’s first interview, they schedule a second interview in the near future, at which time they submit the packet and if it is deemed “clearly approvable,” it will be, indeed, immediately approved.
I don’t know how to describe the reaction on the boards other than “shock and awe” as one of our comadres was informed that her husband walked into his waiver interview Thursday, after spending just three weeks in Mexico, and walked out with his visa later that afternoon. No 3-6, 6-9 or 10-12 month estimated processing time. No waiting and waiting and inquiring and wondering. No, none of that.
Those who are not “clearly approvable” get in line with everyone else, but the fact that the existing waiver review staff will no longer process expedite requests and have significantly less new waivers to organize should speed up the process for everyone.
And while no one knows exactly what “clearly approvable” is, it seems most who read some approved packets and understand what is expected, regardless of the existence or strength of actual hardship, can meet the standard. Now, just there when I said “actual hardship,” I meant, of course, what USCIS decides is hardship. The fact that a U.S. Citizen simply wants to live in his or her own country with their chosen spouse (who is neither a criminal nor a threat to society or may be, in fact, a very productive U.S. resident for many years) is not enough.
At any rate, the pilot program that is allowing these very fast approvals seems to be the work of Warren Janssen, Officer in Charge of the USCIS office in Ciudad Juarez. Although Fermin and I will not personally benefit from this program, other than perhaps with a quicker decision, I cannot help be overjoyed by the fact that thousands of couples in our position in the future will.
Uh-oh, my nephew just locked himself in his bedroom, which was fun for a while, but not he’s screaming and banging on the door; time for my brother-in-law to climb through the window to get him out.