I-601 vs I-601A Waivers: Which Is Right for You?

Many situations can make an individual inadmissible to enter the United States, but in some cases an applicant can petition for a waiver to be allowed to enter or to adjust their status to permanent residency. The USCIS I-601A and I-601 waivers are available to help eligible candidates enter the United States through the immigrant visa process or to get a green card.

What is an I-601 waiver?

What is an I-601A waiver?

Who qualifies for each?

Unlawful presence means a person was in the United States after entering without inspection or overstaying a visa. A person may also be unlawfully present in the United States if they violated their status. This may happen if a student or visitor without authorization to work takes on a job in the United States, for example. Unlawful begins to accrue based on several factors so it is important to understand the impact of this ground of admissibility before filing a waiver. 

Based on the amount of unlawful presence time an individual has accrued, individuals may be subject to a 3-year bar, 10-year bar, or permanent bar, depending on the specifics of their case. This means they cannot return to the United States or adjust their status to permanent residents for 3 years, 10 years, or permanently. However, I-601 and I-601A waivers are possible for qualified applicants who have been subject to a 3-year or 10-year bar.

Under what conditions?

What’s the process?

Why is it so difficult?

One issue applicants sometimes encounter is that consular processing has become more strict and passing the interview can present additional challenges. It is also important to consider every possible reason an applicant is inadmissible. If an applicant thinks they are only inadmissible due to unlawful presence and applies for an I-601A waiver, but immigration officials discover additional grounds for inadmissibility, the applicant may then need to file for an I-601 waiver, delaying the process.
There are also many complex rules for these waivers and it is the responsibility of the applicant to prove they meet all the requirements for a waiver, including the extreme hardship to the qualifying relative requirement, which can be a challenge.

Is there a cap?

Do the waivers expire?

How can Farmer Law help applicants navigate the process?

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