RISKS AND REWARDS IN CONSULAR PROCESSING

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By David Sperling

Living life to the fullest requires an assumption of risk. As the Spanish proverb goes, “El que No Riesga No Gana”  (He who never takes a risk never wins.)

Any entrepreneur knows that failure is always a possibility, but you can never succeed if you don’t take a chance. On the other hand, some people are afraid to fly on  airplanes, which is by far the safest manner of transportation.

The question is, What is a reasonable risk, and what are the chances of failure?

In my 22 years as an immigration attorney, I have found that individuals who fail to apply for legal status when eligible are often the most remorseful when that opportunity no longer exists. This is true of thousands of eligible Hispanics who never applied for TPS (Temporary Protected Status) or a provisional waiver.

The I-601A provisional waiver authorizes undocumented spouses and other relatives of  of U.S. Citizens and Legal Permanent Residents to obtain their Green Cards after a brief trip to their home countries for consular processing.

Before President Obama, it was indeed highly risky for undocumented immigrants to pursue consular processing because it was necessary to apply for a waiver (for unlawful presence) only after leaving the the United States, and there was no guarantee an applicant would be approved. And there was the very real possibility they would be stranded and forever separated from their families in the United States.  In this case, immigrants’ fear was fully justified and very few individuals pursued consular processing.

However, it is now possible to obtain this waiver in the United States and virtually the only risk is loss of time and money spent.  Once approved for an I-601A waiver (about 75 percent are granted), the applicant is virtually assured of obtaining a Green Card after a brief trip abroad for consular processing.)

(There are important exceptions for anyone with criminal convictions, especially DWIs, gang-affiliated tattoos or associations, or previous visa applications that contained false or misleading statements. No one should consider leaving the United States without guidance from an expert immigration lawyer with experience in consular processing.)

What the lesson?  Discover your options, get the best legal advice possible, evaluate the risks and rewards, and make your decision based on facts and not fears.

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