In 2013, the Obama Administration announced the provisional waiver program. The program was designed to promote family unity. It has now been expanded to include those with deportation and removal orders.
Immigrants who have accumulated unlawful presence and have to depart the United States to attend their consular interview generally have to apply for a waiver for unlawful presence. Prior to 2013, immigrants had to first attend their consular interview, and only after they attended the interview, were they allowed to apply for the waiver. This was a great risk because the waiver applications could remain pending for several years, or the waiver could be denied. In cases where the waiver was not approved, the immigrant would remain outside of the United States and be separated from their families for an indefinite period of time.
On March 4, 2013, the I-601A waiver was implemented. It was introduced to reduce the risk that came with the old process. Whereas in the old process individuals had to depart the United States before they could apply for the waiver, the I-601A process allows immigrants to apply for the waiver and wait for a decision before departing the United States. Initially only individuals who were married to U.S. citizens or whose parents were U.S. citizens were eligible to apply for the I-601A waiver. On August 29, 2016, the Department of Homeland Security expanded the eligibility requirement.
As of August 29, 2013, immigrants whose parents or spouses are lawful permanent residents, may also apply for the I-601A waiver. Additionally, immigrants who have prior orders of deportation and who never departed the United States are also eligible for the I-601A waiver.
You are eligible to apply for the I-601A waiver if:
1) You are married to a lawful permanent resident or a U.S. citizen; or you are the son/daughter of a lawful permanent resident or U.S. citizen
2) You are inadmissible to the United States due to unlawful presence, or due to unlawful presence and an order of removal
3) You can demonstrate that your family member will suffer extreme hardship if you are not granted the waiver