The reelection of Barack Obama has alleviated some concern that the approval of the proposed stateside processing of I-601 waivers might be halted. It now seems likely that the rule change will be approved before the close of 2012. To recap: the new rule would allow visa applicants who are present in the U.S. illegally to apply for a waiver of their inadmissibility while remaining in the States. Previously, these applicants would have to return to their country of origin before they were allowed to apply for the waiver.
In order to apply for an I-601 waiver, a prospective immigrant must already have a notice of approval from an I-130 application (a petition for an immigrant visa from a qualifying relative). Currently, I-130 applications take about five (5) months for approval so with the approval of the stateside waiver process looming, now may be a good time to start your application. It’s important to remember that the stateside waiver rule is limited to a very specific class of applicants. The process is only available for waiver of unlawful presence (i.e. people would otherwise be subject to a 3/10-year bar if they left the U.S.) and the applicant must show that their removal would cause extreme hardship to a US citizen relative.
Extreme hardship can be difficult to prove and assembling a solid case requires expertise and time. If you think you might benefit from the proposed stateside waiver rule, now would be an excellent time to speak to an experienced immigration attorney. Because the law in this area is so complex, only an experienced attorney specializing in immigration will be able to assess your case and determine if you qualify for stateside processing.