Individuals who have entered the United States without inspection often, who have overstayed their visa, and/or have violated the terms of their visa face significant obstacles in obtaining permanent resident status in the United States. In fact, more often than not, these individuals do not have the option of obtaining their permanent resident status while living in the United States. Instead, they may be required to depart the United States to their country of origin and pursue their green cards abroad. Nonetheless, by doing so, they would be subject to a 3 or 10-year bar of re-admission into the United States due to their prior unlawful presence in the United States. They also do not have a guarantee to return to the United States and face years of separation from their loved ones while trying to legalize their status.
Fortunately, the I-601A Waiver is an ideal solution for those facing this issue. This is an application that will cure the 3 or 10-year bar, significantly reduce the separation time apart from loved ones in the United States, and ultimately help in securing a green card.
What Is An I-601A Waiver?
The I-601A Waiver (Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver) is a waiver that lessens the time period of an undocumented alien’s separation from their family in their attempt to obtain a green card. The waiver was introduced as a relatively new type of immigration waiver in March 2013. Prior to the I-601A Waiver, applicants for permanent residence who had entered without inspection or who had violated the terms of their status may have had to depart the United States in order to obtain their green cards. During that departure, they would file a waiver for their unlawful presence and wait for the adjudication of the waiver in their home country. With long processing times, waiting out this process resulted in years of separation from family and other loved ones in the United States.
Nonetheless, the primary benefit of the I-601A waiver is that it can be submitted while the applicant is waiting in the United States. Being able to remain in the United States while the waiver is decided upon drastically reduces the time apart from loved ones in the United States. Once the I-601A Waiver is approved, the applicant departs to their home country only for a short period of time, for consular processing usually 2 to 3 weeks, and subsequently re-enters as a permanent resident.
The Importance of An Immigration Attorney
If you are seeking to file an I-601A Waiver, you should make sure you are applying with the assistance of a licensed and experienced immigration attorney. The I-601A Waiver is a very complex application that requires extensive evidence to be submitted in order to be approved. A licensed and experienced immigration attorney will be able to assist you by preparing this waiver for you so that you have the best chance of obtaining approval.
The 3 Year and 10 Year Bar
If an individual resides In the United States without lawful immigration status, he or she may be subject to a 3 or 10 year bar of being allowed to re-enter the United States after their departure.
3 Year Bar
If an individual has been living without lawful status in the United States for a period of 1 year, they may be subjected to a 3-year waiting period before being eligible to apply for readmission into the U.S. This constitutes a 3-year bar.
10 Year Bar
If an individual has been living without lawful status in the United States for a period of time greater than 1 year, they may be subjected to a 10-year waiting period before being eligible to apply for readmission to the U.S. Many undocumented aliens are at risk of being separated from their families for either a 3-year or 10 year period. This often prevents them from traveling back to their country of origin to apply for a green card.
I-601A Waiver Eligibility and Requirements
Certain requirements must be met before an undocumented alien is eligible to apply for an I-601A Waiver. The list of criteria includes:
- Be physically present in the United States
- Being 17 years of age or older
- Be in the process of obtaining your immigrant visa and have an immigrant visa case pending with the Department of State
- Be able to demonstrate that refusal of your admission to the United States will cause extreme hardship to your U.S. citizen or Legal Permanent Resident spouse or parent
- Believe you are or will be inadmissible only because of a period of unlawful presence in the United States
Meeting the eligibility requirements for an I-601A Waiver is not guaranteed approval. It is important to take up your case with the guidance of a licensed immigration attorney and not rely on your individual knowledge and skills.
Benefit Of The I-601A Waiver
The I-601A waiver has the benefit of dramatically reducing the wait time in which an individual has to be separated from their family during the process of obtaining their permanent resident status.
Defining Extreme Hardship
Extreme hardship a legal term that refers to any hardship that is more severe than a normal hardship that a qualifying relative might endure from an extended separation from the applicant for the waiver. Factors that may be relevant in establishing extreme hardship include emotional and psychological trauma suffered from separation, loss of employment or educational opportunities, access to medical care, and other severe changes in the life of the qualifying family member resulting from the separation as well as conditions in the country to which the relative may have to move because of her inability to remain in the U.S. without the applicant.
Providing Evidence Of Extreme Hardship
When applying for an I-601A Waiver, evidence must be demonstrated that a qualifying relative would suffer from extreme hardship. A good case will include evidence of various types of hardship, such as medical, emotional, financial, and psychological hardship.
Evidence that can be submitted includes, but is certainly not limited to:
- Medical records for the qualifying relative, confirming that he or she is suffering from a medical condition that requires treatment and care;
- Psychological report for the qualifying relative, confirming that he or she would suffer significant psychological trauma in the event that they are separated from the applicant for the waiver;
- Documents confirming finances, such as monthly expenses and the overall income of the qualifying relative and the applicant, which would show financial hardship if the applicant is not able to remain in the United States and provide their income
- Affidavits from family and friends attesting to the hardship that the qualifying relative will face;
- Country conditions information for the applicant’s country of origin, demonstrating what harm the applicant could endure if returned there, as well as demonstrating the significant change for the quality of life for the qualifying relative
It is important to note that each individual’s case is different and may require additional types of hardship evidence. It is very important to work with an experienced immigration attorney who will be able to assess your case and determine what the best possible evidence would be in your case to support a finding of extreme hardship.
Preparing The I-601A Waiver Application
It is important that you understand the application process and what steps must be taken to ensure that you have a strong chance of receiving approval.
Having the assistance of a licensed immigration attorney will help make the application process go much more smoothly. To learn more about the I-601A Waiver or to get assistance in determining your eligibility for this specific waiver, contact Johnson & Masumi, PC. Our firm has handled several waiver cases successfully, resulting in grants of green cards to many clients who did not think that they could ever attain permanent residence before. We are eager to guide you every step of the way through the legal process of obtaining an I-601A Waiver.