Immigrant Rights Groups Welcome Rule Change to Keep Families Together

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013 Contact: Donna De La Cruz, (202) 339-9331

Immigrant Rights Groups Welcome Rule Change to Keep Families Together

Family Unity Waiver Goes Into Effect on March 4 

(WASHINGTON)—Members of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) today praised the posting of a final rule change by the Obama Administration allowing spouses and children of U.S. citizens to stay together in the United States through stateside processing of visa applications.

Under current law, undocumented immigrants have to leave the United States and wait for years before they can re-enter the country. Often, the process to obtain a waiver can take months or even years, meaning families have to endure prolonged separations and are exposed to significant hardship. Current law also places an unnecessary burden on federal agencies.

The ‘family unity waiver’ would allow spouses and children of U.S. citizens to file their waivers in the United States and remain together while applications are processed. Last March, 160 organizations from across the nation signed a letter sent to Alejandro Mayorkas, director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, urging USCIS to expand the family unity waiver to ensure more families are kept together and to implement the family unity waiver as quickly as possible.

FIRM groups and other immigration rights organizations sent hundreds of comments to USCIS urging the agency to implement the rule change.

“The family unity waiver eliminates unnecessary bureaucratic red tape and focuses on what is important: keeping families together,” said Kica Matos, Director of Immigrant Rights and Racial Justice for the Center for Community Change. “We are pleased the rule will finally be implemented very soon.”

“FIRM members are pleased that the Obama administration is using its authority to keep families together and we look forward to more leadership as we embark on the long term solution of immigration reform,” Matos said.

In December, FIRM, comprised of the largest immigrant rights grassroots groups in the country, launched “Keeping Families Together” to advocate for immigration policies that reflect our nation’s values of fairness, justice and equality. These families will be the voice of Keeping Families Together, and they will lift the veil on the moral crisis of family separation by telling their stories of our broken immigration process to illustrate why we need change now. For more information on the campaign, go to

FIRM represents hundreds of thousands of immigrant families in more than 30 states.