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New Rule Eases PathTo Legal Immigration

07.01.2012 13:11 EST
The Obama administration said Friday that it would make it easier for illegal immigrants who are related to a U.S. citizen to seek legal U.S. residency, a rule change hailed by immigrant advocates and lambasted by those who favor strict policingof the borders.
Currently, an illegal immigrant must apply for and receive a legal visa from his or her country of origin to rejoin a spouse or child in the U.S., a process that can take years. The Obama administration will modify that rule to enable the immigrant toremain in the U.S. for much of the process.
The change is likely to go into effect later this year, administration officials said.
The administration said it is streamlining the process to make it more humane by minimizing family breakups. But the decision also could affect thousands of illegal immigrants who might qualify for a green card -- which confers permanent U.S. residency -- but haven't applied because they feared not being allowed back into the U.S. or, at the least, a lengthy separation fromfamily.


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