What is the Process for Getting a Provisional Waiver?
The Process for Getting a Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver
The provisional unlawful presence waiver, also known as the I-601A waiver, allows certain immigrants who are relatives of U.S. citizens to request forgiveness for their unlawful presence in the U.S. before leaving the country for their visa interviews. This helps reduce the time that families are separated.
Who Qualifies for the Provisional Waiver
To qualify for the provisional unlawful presence waiver, you must:
- Be at least 17 years old
- Be physically present in the U.S. to file the waiver application
- Be the beneficiary of an approved immigrant visa petition
- Have a qualifying relative who is a U.S. citizen spouse or parent
- Be able to prove that denying your waiver would cause extreme hardship to the qualifying relative
- Be inadmissible only on the grounds of unlawful presence in the U.S. for more than 180 days
You are not eligible for the provisional waiver if you are in removal proceedings or have a final order of removal, exclusion, or deportation.
Filing the Provisional Waiver Application
To apply for the provisional unlawful presence waiver, you must file Form I-601A with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The current filing fee is $930.
When completing your I-601A application, it is critical that you provide evidence to establish that your qualifying relative would suffer extreme hardship if you are refused admission to the U.S. This evidence can include medical records, financial documents, and written statements from you and your relative.
You should work closely with an experienced immigration attorney when preparing your I-601A waiver application. Having strong legal representation increases your chances of approval.
After Filing the Provisional Waiver
Once you have filed your I-601A application, you will receive a receipt notice with your case number. You can use this to check your case status on the USCIS website.
If USCIS determines that your application is complete, you will be scheduled for biometrics (fingerprints and photo). After your biometrics appointment, USCIS will review your entire waiver application and make a decision. The current I-601A processing time is approximately 6 to 12 months.
If your provisional unlawful presence waiver is approved, USCIS will notify you with an approval notice. USCIS will also inform the State Department that you have a pending immigrant visa case. However, approval of the I-601A does not guarantee that you will receive an immigrant visa.
Once approved, you will need to depart the U.S. for your immigrant visa interview at a U.S. consulate abroad. The consular officer will again review your case and determine whether to issue you an immigrant visa. If the consular officer finds you inadmissible on grounds other than unlawful presence while abroad, Form I-601 waiver may be an option.
If your I-601A is denied, the notice will explain the reasons for the denial. Some of the common reasons for denial include:
- Insufficient evidence of extreme hardship to your qualifying relative
- Ineligibility due to other grounds of inadmissibility beyond unlawful presence
- Fraud or misrepresentation
If your provisional waiver is denied, you may be able to file a new application or submit an appeal to the USCIS Administrative Appeals Office. Discuss your options with an experienced immigration attorney.
Navigating the immigration system can be incredibly complicated and stressful. Fortunately, there are many excellent online resources with information on provisional waivers and other immigration processes:
- r/immigration subreddit – Discussion forum on U.S. immigration issues.
- Avvo guide on provisional waivers – Overview of eligibility and process.
- Boundless guide – Details on different types of inadmissibility waivers.
- Law Firm for Immigrants – FAQs on provisional waiver process.
It is always wise to consult with an experienced immigration attorney when applying for any type of immigration benefit, including the provisional unlawful presence waiver. They can help ensure your application is error-free and has the best chance of approval.
The provisional waiver provides a tremendous opportunity to streamline the process of getting your green card. With thorough preparation, favorable discretion, and a little luck, you may soon be on the path to becoming a lawful permanent resident.