I-601A Unlawful Presence Waiver
Residing unlawfully in the United States can bar you from immigration benefits meant to help you work and live in this country legally and permanently. Fortunately, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) allows those who have accrued unlawful presence to apply for a waiver of inadmissibility provided they meet certain criteria. The USCIS requirements for an I-601AA waiver state that the intending immigrant must meet the following criteria:
- Be physically present in the U.S.;
- Be 17 years of age or older;
- Be the beneficiary of an approved I-130 visa petition;
- Have a parent or spouse who is a U.S. citizen;
- Be able to demonstrate that your qualifying family member would suffer an extreme hardship if your waiver was denied;
- Be willing to leave the United States temporarily in order to seek an immigrant visa from the U.S. Consulate in the immigrant’s home country;
- Has no grounds of inadmissibility (fraud, misrepresentation, criminal convictions involving moral turpitude);
- Has never received an order of removal or accepted voluntary departure without departing the United States as required;
- Is not currently involved in removal or deportation proceedings;
- Has not submitted an application for adjustment of status;
- Is not currently scheduled with a U.S. consulate abroad for an immigrant visa interview.
I-601A Waiver Processing and Provisional Waiver
In past years, in order to process a Waiver for Unlawful Presence, it was required that applicants remain outside the United States until a Department of State (DOS) consular officer could interview them and determine inadmissibility before reviewing their waiver application. This caused lengthy wait times, resulting in painful separations and financial hardships for family members forced to leave loved ones while undergoing this process.
But under recent changes to USCIS procedures and guidelines, applicants may now request an I-601A Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver from within the United States before they depart for their immigrant visa interview. This shortens the overall amount of time family members must spend apart. When considering the I-601A Waiver, it is important to remember that it does not change the immigrant visa process, and you are still required to appear at an immigrant visa interview with a U.S. consular officer abroad.
How the Decision to Approve or Deny Your I-601A Waiver Is Made
The guidelines that USCIS uses to approve or deny your waiver are still evolving, but you can gain insight into this process through the USCIS I-601A Waiver Training Manual. To help improve your chances of filing a successful I-601A waiver, you should consider the following requirements:
- Whether or not your qualifying relative meets extreme hardship requirements;
- Whether or not you will be able to collect supporting documents and evidence supporting your qualifying relative’s hardship;
- You must be able to provide proof that you are the beneficiary of an approved immigrant visa petition classifying you as the immediate relative of a U.S. citizen;
- You must be able to provide complete responses to all questions and fields contained within the request application; and
- You must be able to provide complete information as to the names, birth dates, receipt numbers for approved immediate relative petitions (Form I-130 or Form I-360), and NVC case numbers.
Potential Red Flags: The Permanent Bar
Even if you meet all the requirements for an I-601A waiver for unlawful presence and complete and submit your forms properly, you may still be disqualified for the waiver if you are subject to section 212(a)(9)(C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act and have a “permanent bar.” The permanent bar applies in situations in which someone re-enters the U.S. illegally after being previously ordered removed or deported, or after being unlawfully present in the U.S. for an aggregate period of over one year. While referred to as a ‘permanent’ bar, you may be able to request re-entry after remaining outside of the US for a period of ten years.
Our Los Angeles I-601A Waiver Immigration Attorneys Are Here to Help You
At the Goldstein Immigration Lawyers, our immigration lawyers in Los Angeles are here to answer your questions and assist you in understanding the immigration benefits to which you are entitled. We can help strategize your best course of action in achieving your immigration goals, while helping you find ways to ensure your family remains together. Please answer a few questions below and see if you qualify for a free case evaluation.