What is an I-601 waiver?

An I-601 “Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility” allows a foreign citizen to immigrate to the U.S., adjust their status to permanent resident, or seek admission to the U.S. as a nonimmigrant if the immigrant can prove that a “qualifying relative” would suffer extreme hardship if the waiver is not granted. You will use Form I-612 if there is a reason U.S. immigration would deny you entry to the U.S. because you are inadmissible. The waiver process is complex and faces a great deal of scrutiny from the USCIS.

You might need to file an I-601 waiver if you’ve been denied a visa for the following reasons:

  • Health-related grounds of inadmissibility
  • Criminal grounds of inadmissibility
  • Immigration fraud or misrepresentation
  • Immigrant membership in a totalitarian party
  • Alien smuggler
  • Being subject to a civil penalty
  • The 3-year or 10-year bar due to a previous unlawful presence in the U.S.

You may need an I-601 waiver if you are an:

  • Applicant for Temporary Protected Status
  • Applicant for adjustment of status under the Violence Against Women Act
  • Applicant for the K or V nonimmigrant visas found inadmissible during their visa interviews outside the U.S.

Where do I file my I-601 waiver?

Where you will file your I-601 waiver depends upon the immigration benefit you seek. The USCIS website has a complete list of mailing addresses for all I-601 waiver forms.

How long does the I-601 waiver take?

USCIS publishes processing time at https://egov.uscis.gov/processing-times/. Currently, the published processing time is 3 to 6 months. The actual wait time may be many, many months more. The probability of approval depends on the strength of the evidence you submit with your request. Overall, the approval rate for I-601 waivers is about 79%.

What happens after my I-601 waiver is approved by USCIS?

After USCIS approves your I-601 waiver, you should receive a packet of information on the next steps. If you filed while in the US, the I-601 approval may need to be communicated to the office deciding your visa or green card application. You may need to mail a copy of the approval notice to the appropriate USCIS office. You should submit updated “hardship” information when you communicate with USCIS.

If you are outside of the U.S., you will make a new appointment with the embassy to apply for the visa that was rejected. You should bring updated “hardship” information to the visa interview.

Once you arrive in the U.S., an immigration officer will review the documents that the embassy provided to you and generally will allow you to enter the US if your visa is valid.

The I-601 waiver process is complicated and tedious, requiring a thorough knowledge of USCIS procedures and U.S. immigration law. Whether you are already well into the immigration process or just beginning, I can help. I’ve guided countless immigrants from around the world through the U.S. immigration process. Call (617) 714-4375 or email ellen@ellensullivanlaw.com to get in touch.