A large portion of our practice hyper focuses on preparing waivers for those who are inadmissible and cannot adjust their status to Permanent Resident without a waiver. For a person who is living in the United States illegally, an I-601A waiver is often the only means to overcome their unlawful status. An I-601A Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility allows a non-citizen alien to immigrate to the United States, adjust their status to permanent residence, or seek admission to the United States in a nonimmigrant status, if certain grounds of inadmissibility, circumstances, or conduct prevent them from being otherwise admissible. The I-601A application applies to certain foreign nationals who believe they are ineligible for admission to the United States based on certain grounds of inadmissibility.
The I-601A waiver application process is notoriously complex primarily due to the high level of scrutiny these applications face when under review by an immigration officer. The process is emotionally charged, time consuming, document heavy, and extremely invasive. On average, the process takes approximately 12-24 months or more. This timeframe does not take into account any delays that may be caused by requests for evidence or any delays that may be caused by the National Visa Center (NVC) which processes thousands of applications every day. It is not uncommon for the NVC to misplace or altogether ignore important documents.
In order to qualify for the I-601A Waiver, you must have at least one qualifying relative who will be petitioning the waiver. Qualifying relatives may include a US citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) spouse, parent. The petitioner will have to disclose private and personal information, dedicate time and effort to describe their life and relationship with the beneficiary.
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A crucial component to the success of an I-601A waiver application is to establish that your qualifying relative(s) would suffer ‘extreme hardship’ if you were to be refused admission to the United States. This requires both the qualifying relative and applicant to submit a detailed declaration describing the extreme hardship the qualifying relative would face and the adverse impact the qualifying relative would suffer in the alien’s absence. The applicant must provide all documented evidence where possible to substantiate the claims made in the declarations. For example, if the qualifying relative is disabled and they depend on the alien in a significant way (financial, emotional) evidence must be provided to build a stronger case.
Favorable factors may include evidence of the foreign national's good moral character, community service, ties to the community, achievements, and other favorable characteristics. It is crucial that the applicant disclose all of the possible grounds of inadmissibility, circumstances, events, or conduct that may render them inadmissible. Failure to do so may result in future inadmissibility for an undisclosed event or ground that was left out of the waiver application.
Applicants should describe any criminal convictions, medical conditions, immigration violations, etc. and provide necessary documentation where needed. Criminal records or conviction records must be certified court documents. Medical records should be provided for health-related grounds of inadmissibility. VAWA applicants inadmissible under INA section 212(a)(9)(C)(i) must establish a connection between the battery or extreme cruelty that occurred as a basis for the VAWA claim and the self-petitioner’s removal from the United States.