What is an Inadmissibility Waiver?
An inadmissibility waiver allows an individual entry into the United States when that individual would otherwise not be admitted to the United States based on a variety of possible reasons. An inadmissibility waiver is necessary for individuals deemed inadmissible to the United States under either a visa, Green Card, or other U.S. entry.
When is an Inadmissibility Waiver Required?
The United States will deem individuals inadmissible for a variety of reasons, including the immigration applicant’s health and the spread of communicable diseases, criminal activity, national security, public charge, lack of labor certification, fraud and misrepresentation, prior removals, or unlawful presence in the United States. When an applicant is deemed inadmissible, he or she can request a waiver to be admitted to the United States. However, there is no guarantee the waiver will be granted as it is dependent on the circumstances of the applicant and the reason(s) he or she was deemed inadmissible.
Who Can Apply for an Inadmissibility Waiver?
Generally, immigration or visa applicants who are deemed inadmissible to enter the United States can apply for an inadmissibility waiver. However, some applicants may not be eligible to file an inadmissibility waiver if the reason for their inadmissibility does not permit them to file the waiver under the law.
An applicant cannot apply for an inadmissibility waiver if the reason for his or her inadmissibility is:
- Drug abuse or addiction;
- Drug trafficking;
- Espionage or sabotage against the U.S. government;
- Participation in genocide;
- Membership in totalitarian party
An applicant may apply for an inadmissibility waiver if the reason for his or her inadmissibility is:
- Health issues or communicable disease;
- Physical or mental disorder that can cause harm to the individual or others;
- People without proper vaccinations;
- People with convictions for crimes involving moral turpitude;
- People who have violated immigration laws;
- People with multiple criminal convictions;
- People likely to be dependent on government assistance
Who is Checked for Admissibility and When?
Anytime an individual applies for admission or entry into the United States, he or she is subject to an admissibility check as part of the application process. This means every individual is evaluated during the application process for all possible grounds of inadmissibility, including individuals who are already in the United States and are seeking to adjust their immigration status or Green Card holders who spend 180 continuous days or more outside the U.S., leave the U.S. during removal proceedings, or commit a crime.
Inadmissibility may be determined throughout an application process by various United States agencies, including the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security (such as Customs and Border Patrol and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services).
What is the Process for Getting an Inadmissibility Waiver Approved?
In some instances, an inadmissibility waiver is not necessary when the applicant can show that the inadmissibility determination was made in error or the reason for inadmissibility no longer applies (e.g. an illness was overcome).
In other instances of inadmissibility, a waiver will be necessary to receive a Green Card or otherwise be admitted to the United States. In these cases, an applicant who is denied admissibility can file Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility or Form I-601A, Application for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver, if applicable, for individuals who are unlawfully present in the United States. Individuals who file either form may be required to attend a Biometric Services Appointment.
Filing Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility
Form I-601 is the inadmissibility waiver form that individuals must file for most reasons of inadmissibility, such as health determinations or criminal history. An individual filing form I-601 should prepare evidence and documentation in support of the waiver before filing it, and the evidence should be submitted with the form.
Individual applicants who are deemed inadmissible may file Form I-601 if they are:
- Outside the United States and applied for an immigrant visa (can submit only after consulate interview);
- Outside the United States and applied for a K or V nonimmigrant visa;
- Inside the United States and seeking adjustment of status or temporary protected status.
Form I-601 can be filed by mail or online after an individual’s inadmissibility, and eligibility to apply for a waiver, is determined. When submitting Form I-601, extensive documentation evidence in support of granting the waiver must be included:
- Evidence establishing why the individual qualifies for an inadmissibility waiver;
- This evidence must be specific to the reason(s) the individual was deemed inadmissible (e.g. why the individual should be exempted from required vaccines).
- Evidence to support a claim of extreme hardship (if applicable) that an immediate relative of the individual will face if inadmissibility is not waived;
Filing Form I-601A, Application for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver
Form I-601A is the inadmissibility waiver form that individuals must file if they are unlawfully present in the United States and are concerned they will be barred from the United States for three or ten years due to their unlawful presence. Unlawful presence occurs when an individual overstays his or her visa or fails to apply for an extension or adjustment of status that would allow the individual to lawfully continue their stay in the United States. An individual filing Form I-601A must also show that immediate family members will face extreme hardship if the individual is inadmissible to the United States.
Individual applicants who are deemed inadmissible may file Form I-601A if:
- They are or believe they will be inadmissible for three or ten years upon leaving the United States because they were unlawfully present in the United States for over 180 days; and
- They are immediate relatives of U.S. citizens or permanent residents who are in the United States, and are seeking an immigrant visa through the consular process at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad (immediate relatives include spouses and children, siblings of U.S. citizens, and adult and married children of U.S. citizens);
- The individual’s immediate relatives will face extreme hardship if the individual is deemed inadmissible to the United States.
There is no exact definition of extreme hardship that an individual must meet when filing Form I-601A. Extreme hardship may be found in situations of financial hardship or dependency by an immediate family member or physical or mental health issues an immediate family member faces.
Besides extreme hardship, individuals can raise mitigating factors when filing Form I-601A that helps to explain why they overstayed or were unlawfully present in the United States. Individuals should also address issues, or aggravating factors, that do not help their case. Explanations or evidence why an aggravating factor is not so severe or the individual’s expressed commitment to improve beyond an aggravating factor may help receive favorable discretion from the deciding immigration officer.
If the provisional waiver is granted, it does not take effect until the individual leaves the United States and appears for his or her immigrant visa interview at an embassy or consulate, and the consular officer determines the individual is admissible to the United States.
When submitting Form I-601A, extensive documentation evidence in support of granting the waiver must be included:
- Evidence of the individual’s admission or parole;
- Evidence of extreme hardship;
- Evidence why the individual’s case warrants a favorable exercise of discretion;
- Evidence of the individual’s relationship to a qualifying relative (if applicable);
- Evidence of U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent resident status the qualifying resident (if applicable);
- Other evidence required for specified circumstances.
How Much Does it Cost to File an Inadmissibility Waiver?
The cost to file Form I-601 is $930.
The cost to file Form I-601A is $630.
The cost of the Biometrics Services Appointment is $85.