Immigration Rule Change to Take Effect This Year

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A rule change designed to decrease the time some undocumented immigrants spend away from their families could be implemented by the end of this calendar year, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Alejandro Mayorkas.

The policy would allow some undocumented immigrants with U.S. citizen family members to apply for a waiver from the so-called “three- and ten-year bars” from within the United States.

“We have committed to making it effective this year,” Mayorkas told reporters during a press conference to explain the agency’s strategic priorities for 2012. “I think we envision in the fourth quarter.”

The policy represents a change to existing immigration regulations that officials say prevent many people who are eligible for green cards through family ties from applying because doing so would subject them to a three- or ten-year ban from the United States.

Under current law, people who leave the country after being in the U.S. illegally for more than 180 days, are banned from coming back for three years. The ban is extended to 10 years if the person is present unlawfully for more than a year.

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