The I-601 Waiver Process

a foreign national going through the I-601 waiver process to enter the US legallyIf you have been denied a visa or other immigration benefit on the grounds that you are “inadmissible,” you may be able to request a waiver (forgiveness) of inadmissibility by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to resolve the problem. Otherwise called the “Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility,” the I-601 hardship waiver is a form that eligible immigrants may use to apply for a visa, an adjustment of status, or an immigration benefit that they are not currently ineligible for.

Ineligible applicants may submit Form I-601 to the USCIS to request that their “ground(s) of inadmissibility” be waived. Whether an applicant is eligible for a waiver depends on the benefit that they are applying for and the evidence provided to prove that they are inadmissible. In addition to guiding you through the complex I-601 waiver process, a professional immigration attorney can help you provide the necessary materials to adequately support your claims and acquire a waiver of inadmissibility.

Who Should Apply?

Applicants who are eligible to apply for a I-601 waiver include:

  • Applicants for adjustment of status to lawful permanent residence
  • Applicants for the K or V non-immigrant visas who, while outside the United States, were found to be inadmissible through their visa interviews
  • Applicants for adjustment of status under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act 202, Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act 902, or as a Special Immigrant Juvenile based on an approved Form I-360
  • Applicants for adjustment of status based on T nonimmigrant status
  • Applicants for Temporary Protected Status

Eligibility Requirements

Eligibility for filing an I-601 first and foremost requires a relative who currently maintains lawful permanent residency in the United States. Remember, the I-601 waiver is for situations where the U.S. citizen or permanent resident family member would experience “extreme hardship” if the foreign immigrant applicant were not allowed to live in the U.S. legally.

a Vienna, VA immigration attorney signing an I-601 waiver for one of his clientsThere is no clear definition of extreme hardship, so the decision is made on a case-by-case basis, based on the quality of evidence to support it. Thus, depending on what the applicant is requesting a waiver for, they must provide sufficient evidence supporting the rationale behind their waiver under the following grounds:

  • Heath grounds
  • Criminal grounds
  • Alien smuggler grounds
  • Immigration fraud and misrepresentation
  • Labor certification
  • Being subject to civil penalty

A professional immigration attorney can discuss these grounds with you in detail, and help you provide the appropriate evidence to establish why you may qualify for a waiver of inadmissibility.

I-601 Waiver Filing Process

Provided you include the necessary documentation and evidence to support your waiver’s case, filing a Form I-601 is fairly straightforward procedure. Simply complete all sections of the form including the family name, mailing address, date of birth and your signature, and submit it along with the $585 filing fee at the appropriate filing location.

Note: The filing location depends on the immigration benefit you are seeking. To view a complete list of USCIS addresses, go to the Direct Filing Addresses webpage here.

Factors That Could Cause Delay

The probability that an I-601 application will be approved depends on the strength of the evidence submitted with the waiver request. Inadequate evidence of extreme hardship is a common reason for USCIS denial of an I-601 applicant. In response, eligible applicants may appeal the denials of their waivers of inadmissibility so that they may be reconsidered based on additional documentation.

I-601 Waiver Processing Timeline

the statue of liberty representing legal immigration to the United States through an immigration waiverThe processing time for an I-601 waiver will depend on several factors, including whether you filed it in the United States or abroad, and the complexity of your case. Processing times are not currently posted online for I-601 waivers by the USCIS, whether filed in the United States or abroad. However, based on our experience, you can generally expect to wait four to six months before USCIS takes action on your case if you filed in the United States. If you filed abroad, processing generally takes longer, averaging between six and twelve months.

Moreover, because more complex cases require additional research and involvement, more intricate cases generally take longer to process. In the event that the USCIS needs more information or evidence to support a claim, they may also send you a Request for Evidence (RFE) and wait for you to respond with the appropriate documents before making a decision. Additionally, offices of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) sometimes have staffing shortages, which can result in even longer processing times.

Speak to Johnson & Masumi for More Information

The I-601 waiver process is a tedious and complicated process, requiring a thorough understanding of complex form requirements, filing guidelines, and immigration law. Neglecting these rules or failing to provide sufficient and appropriate evidence could result in delays or even the termination of your application. Fortunately, the immigration attorneys at Johnson & Masumi have the experience of over three decades worth of securing I-601 waivers for hundreds of clients. Contact us today or schedule a consultation to learn more about our services and how we may assist you!

Related Posts
  • What Happens If My K1 Visa Application Is Denied? Read More
  • The 2021 K1 Visa Checklist Read More
  • Everything To Know About the EB-1 Visa Read More