WASHINGTON – Immigrant visa applicants who are immediate relatives of US citizens can apply for provisional unlawful presence waivers before leaving the country, according to US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The provisional unlawful presence waiver allows certain individuals to apply for a waiver in the US before they leave for their immigrant visa interviews at a US embassy or consulate abroad. USCIS said the new waiver process is expected to shorten the time US citizens are separated from their immediate relatives who are obtaining visas to become lawful permanent US residents.

The new waiver process does not change the immigrant visa process, according to USCIS. Applicants are still required to leave the US for an immigrant visa interview with a US consular officer abroad even if the provisional unlawful presence waiver is approved.