Waivers of Inadmissibility (I-601/I-601A)
In certain situations, waivers are required in order to acquire relief under the immigration laws. This is especially common with married couples where an immigrating spouse entered the country illegally and remained in the United States more than six months out of status. Thanks to changes in processing, many people can take advantage of the provisional waiver, which can be filed here in the United States prior to departing, making the immigrant's time out of the country as short as possible. I-601 waivers are also required when people with certain crimes attempt to acquire their permanent residence.
Circumstances where you might be required to file a waiver:
- You are married to a U.S. citizen, but you did not enter the United States through customs (e.g., across the border), have been in the United States for more than one year without status, and you are trying to get a green card;
- You committed a crime which makes the immigrant inadmissible;
- You made a misrepresentation or or committed fraud in order to obtain an immigration benefit (such as entering the United States under someone else's visa); and
- Other various areas of inadmissibility.
These I-601/I-601A waivers require evidence that your qualifying relative(s) (which could be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or fiancé(e), and/or child and/or parent, depending on the circumstances and the type of waiver) will suffer extreme hardship if the immigrant cannot enter the United States. Extreme hardship is hardship above and beyond that which a normal person would experience being separated from their relative.
What types of hardships does immigration look at? Immigration considers the following when it decides on hardship:
- Health - A physical or mental condition for the qualifying relative which requires treatment in the United States or where the treatment in the country of the immigrant would be substandard;
- Financial - Where job prospects are such that your qualifying relative will suffer greatly if you are inadmissible;
- Personal - Encompasses personal hardships that your qualifying relative will suffer if you are inadmissible (such as hardship to a non-qualifying relative, like the qualifying relative's child);
- Education - The qualifying relative will be unable to pursue educational advancement if you are inadmissible; and
- Cultural - Where the qualifying relative does not speak the native language in your country, or would suffer because of religious or ethical considerations in the country.
Immigration waivers are not simple. The standards that are used are high, and failing to properly explain the hardship can lead to denial of the application. Immigration waivers take time to prepare, and once they are submitted, US Citizenship and Immigration Services takes time to make a decision. If the applicatin is denied, you will either have to resubmit a waiver application or appeal the decision (if you can), and that takes additional time, leading to potentially longer separation from your loved ones. You need an experienced immigration attorney to help make sure the first waiver package you submit is the best possible waiver package.