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Do I always have to leave to come back for my visa?

On Behalf of | Sep 26, 2022 | Immigration

A huge headache for many immigrants living in the United States is the requirement to leave the country in order to renew a visa. Especially for those with families and jobs, this can be especially problematic and complicated. Though, for some, there may be a way to lessen the number of trips abroad.

Do you have family here?

Some immigrant visa applicants have family here that are lawful permanent residents or U.S. citizens. For these applicants, you may qualify for a lawful presence grounds waiver under the Immigration and Nationality Act section 212 (a)(9)(B).

The normal visa interview process

For those that are not necessarily in the United States legally, the requirement to get a visa is usually to leave, and then have your immigration interview abroad. Once you are denied that visa for unlawful entry, you can ask for a waiver. However, this would mean that you would again have to travel abroad for yet another interview. This process is unnecessarily dragged out, complicated, expensive and takes you away from your family.

Waivers for that first determination

Since 2013, some visa applicants in California and across the county have been able to receive a waiver for that first interview. Essentially, if you had a parent, spouse or child who was already a United States citizen, then you could receive a provisional unlawful presence waiver before leaving for your foreign consulate interview, saving you at least one trip abroad.

In 2016, eligibility for the PUP waiver expanded. Eligibility widened to anyone lawfully eligible for an immigration visa to as for a PUP, if they had any family members that are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents.

Unlawful presence

For most visas, lawful entry to the United States is a prerequisite. However, if you have been here in the United States for more than 180 days illegally, you may not qualify for a status adjustment (visa), even if you leave. This is why the PUP waivers were created because the U.S. government wanted a pathway for the family of citizens and lawful residents.