USCIS released its latest data on the number of immigration petitions received and approved. The report shows there were over 500,000 immigrant petitions received in November 2012, an increase of 31% from the previous November. As of the end of November there were over 700,000 family based and other green card petitions pending with USCIS.
These numbers are expected to rise even more following the recent announcement by Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano of the new provisional unlawful presence waiver process set to take effect March 4, 2013. As detailed in my previous post, the new rules allow immigrants who require a waiver of inadmissibility stemming from their previous unlawful presence to apply for the waiver while still in the U.S. Under the current rules, they have to apply abroad which in the past often kept them stuck outside the U.S. during the lengthy adjudication process.
As reported by ABC news and the Los Angeles Times, the fact that immigrants will not have to be separated from their immediate family for lengthy periods should make applying for a green card a more attractive option for many of the approximatly 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. Many immigrants also feared for their safety if they had to return to their native country for a long period of time.
As it stands many of these undocumented immigrants are depending on their family for income, care and support. The fact is they can now avail themselves of the green card process without fear of not being able to stay in the country. This should lead to a sharp increase in family based immigration petitions.
Despite the new procedures, there will still be many undocumented immigrants who will not apply for a waiver of inadmissibility for fear of the petition leading to deportation proceedings. While USCIS promises this is not the case, many immigrants are unconvinced.
It will be interesting to see the USCIS data on the number of green card petitions this time next year.