A Guide to Immigration Waivers for US Immigrants
What Are Immigration Waivers?
By US immigration law, those who seek visas to gain entry into the US or who seek to become green card holders through the adjustment of status process must meet certain conditions. Anyone who fails to meet the required conditions is deemed ineligible or inadmissible into the US.
Strictly applying the law would result in serious hardship for many immigrants, especially those whose families might already be US residents or fleeing from dangerous situations in their home countries. Hence the US immigration system allows for certain exceptions that would allow immigrants to enter, reside and work in the US even though they may not meet the general immigration requirements. These exceptions are known as immigration waivers.
An immigration waiver is a document that grants an applicant, either currently in the US or waiting abroad, permission to bypass immigration requirements. Generally, waivers are used when an applicant is found ineligible or inadmissible under US immigration law.
Immigration waivers are primarily used to waive the requirements of unlawful presence. Unlawful presence is the term used to describe an individual’s stay in the US after their visa has expired. Under immigration law, any individual who has stayed in the US beyond their visa expiration may be subject to a bar from returning to the US. This bar prevents the individual from returning to the US for 3-10 years and often requires that an immigration waiver be sought.
Different immigration waivers apply in a variety of circumstances. Suppose an immigration judge has denied your immigrant visa application, or you’re having trouble with the immigration process. This guide can help you understand how immigration waivers work and if any might benefit you.
Keep reading to learn more.
Who Can Benefit From an Immigration Waiver?
The Immigration and Nationality Act lists grounds for inadmissibility that could make a foreign national ineligible to enter the US or obtain a green card. Anyone to whom such grounds apply may benefit from an immigration waiver. Some of those grounds include the following:
Prospective immigrants diagnosed with a communicable disease or a dangerous physical or mental disorder are inadmissible for entry into the US.
The same goes for drug addicts and those who failed to present documentation showing that they had received vaccines for common vaccine-preventable diseases such as mumps, measles, rubella, and hepatitis B.
Immigration applicants who have been convicted of certain crimes or have admitted to committing those crimes or essential aspects of them are inadmissible to the United States. Some of the crimes or acts that could lead to inadmissibility under this category include the following:
Crimes involving moral turpitude, such as kidnapping, murder, or robbery
Multiple criminal convictions leading to a cumulative prison sentence of five years or more.
Undocumented Immigrants and Other Immigration Law Violators
Those in this category include applicants who:
Unlawfully or illegally entered the US
Failed to attend their removal proceedings
Made false claims of US citizenship
Violated the terms of their student visa
Have been unlawfully present in the US for at least 180 days
Have been deported or removed from the US in the past.
Such people are barred from entering or remaining in the US for varying lengths of time.
Labor Certification Requirement for Employment-Based Immigrants
Foreign nationals are barred from working in the US unless the Secretary of Labor has issued a labor certification in their favor.
Can I Be Exempted From the Rules on Inadmissibility?
Several exemptions are available to those who ordinarily belong to the inadmissible categories. You may not need a waiver if you qualify for an exemption. You can proceed with your immigration application directly. Therefore, you must first determine if any of those exemptions may apply in your favor before applying for a waiver.
Contact a skilled immigration attorney to evaluate your case and ascertain your eligibility for an exemption.
Types of Immigration Waivers
There are several forms of immigration waivers available to inadmissible or ineligible foreign nationals who wish to enter the US or adjust their nonimmigrant status for those already in the US.
Some of the more common immigration waivers are highlighted below.
I-601 -Extreme Hardship Waiver
This waiver benefits applicants for an immigrant or nonimmigrant visa (in the K or V visa classes) or those applying for adjustment of status from within the US. It allows them to obtain relief from several grounds of inadmissibility, including:
Criminal and related grounds
Most of the time, I-601 waiver applicants must show that a close relative (such as their parents or spouses) who is a US citizen or lawful permanent resident will suffer extreme hardship if the waiver is denied.
I-601A -Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver
This waiver applies to immigrants who are relatives of US citizens or lawful permanent residents and have an immigrant petition approved on their behalf. Such people may have become inadmissible because they overstayed their temporary tourist visas and failed to secure a tourist visa extension, making their continued presence in the US unlawful.
Regardless of the reason for their unlawful presence, they can apply for a provisional waiver of inadmissibility before they return to their home country to attend their immigrant visa interview.
National Interest Waiver
National interest waivers apply to foreign nationals with an advanced degree or exceptional ability seeking to find work and remain in the US. With this waiver, the applicant does not need a job offer or labor certification before applying for an employment-based green card as a self-petitioner.
This waiver can help foreign nationals who entered the US on a student visa for an advanced degree, such as a Ph.D., remain in the US after completing their studies. If you’re in that position, do not hesitate to speak with an immigration attorney who can provide personalized information about the process and help you determine the next steps.
Beginning Your Waiver Application
Each immigration waiver operates differently. The requirements and application procedure vary, and you must confirm which waiver you’re eligible for before you begin. That way, you’re sure you’ll follow the proper procedure for your chosen waiver.
This approach also helps you avoid errors in the application process that could cost you and lead to a denial.
If you’re unsure about which waiver could benefit you, you might want to consult an experienced immigration attorney. They understand the various types of waivers and can help you determine your qualification for each one. They can hold your hand throughout the procedure and help you avoid mistakes or issues that could adversely affect the outcome.
When Your Waiver Is Granted
A waiver is not a visa or green card. It is just one step in the immigration process. It does not give you an automatic right of entry or stay. If your waiver is granted, you’ll still need to complete other aspects of the immigration process, depending on the immigration pathway you’ve chosen.
Once your visa is approved, you can lawfully enter and remain in the US. If you’re already in the US as a nonimmigrant, you can proceed to adjust your status if you qualify for permanent residence.
Get Help From an Experienced US Immigration Lawyer
Being declared inadmissible or ineligible for an immigration process or visa is not the end of the road. You can explore several pathways and options, such as immigration waivers, that could help make your dream come true.
If you’ve hit a snag in the immigration process due to a condition of inadmissibility, contact us at the Law Offices of Christopher Chaney so we can assess your circumstances and help you establish your eligibility for immigration waivers or other viable options.
We understand that most immigrants seek to overcome immigration barriers to reunite with their families in the US. If you wish to join your spouse or fiance in the US, our K1 visa lawyer can help to facilitate the process. Book a date with us to get started.