By Brian Bennett,
Undocumented immigrants who are immediate relatives of American citizens will have an easier path to permanent residency under a new Obama administration rule that could affect as many as 1 million of the estimated 11 million people unlawfully in the United States.
The rule issued by the Department of Homeland Security aims to reduce the time undocumented immigrants are separated from their U.S. families while seeking legal status, officials said.
Beginning March 4, immigrants who can demonstrate that time apart from an American spouse, child or parent would create “extreme hardship” can apply for a visa without leaving the United States. Once approved, applicants would be required to leave briefly in order to return to their native country and pick up their visa.
Sources said that the administration might expand the changes to include relatives of lawful permanent residents.