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What Is an I-601 Waiver?

If you've been denied a visa or other immigration benefit, you may be able to resolve the problem by applying for an I-601 waiver. An I-601 waiver is an Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility. It is a form used by certain immigrant applicants when applying for a visa. You can also use it for a change of status. You can also use it to appeal a denial of an immigration benefit for which you were ineligible and prevent deportation in some cases.

Ineligible applicants submit Form I-601 to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (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 reason that they are inadmissible.

Continue reading to learn more about I-601 waivers and the waiver application process.

In this article, you'll learn more about eligibility for these waivers. You'll also read more about I-601 applications and the review processes.

Who Can File an I-601 Waiver?

Applicants listed in the left-hand column below may file Form I-601 to request a waiver on any of the grounds of inadmissibility in the right-hand column.

Applicants Who May File an I-601 Waiver

Grounds of Inadmissibility that May be Waived

  • Applicants for change of status to lawful permanent residence (green card)
  • Applicants for an immigrant, K, or V nonimmigrant visa (and are outside of the U.S., have had a visa interview, and during the interview were found inadmissible)
  • Heath-related grounds of inadmissibility
  • Certain criminal grounds of inadmissibility
  • Immigration fraud and misrepresentation
  • Immigrant membership in a totalitarian party
  • Alien smuggler
  • Being subject to civil penalty
  • The 3-year or 10-year bar due to previous unlawful presence in the U.S.

Applicants for Temporary Protected Status

  1. The grounds for inadmissibility are listed in INA 212(a). They include reasons related to health, including mental disorders. They also include criminal past, security-related concerns, labor certification, and illegally entering the country.

Applicants for adjustment of status under the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act 202 or Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act 902

  1. All grounds listed for the adjustment of status applicants (except 3-year or 10-year bar due to previously unlawful presence in the U.S.)
  2. Aliens previously removed
  3. Unlawful presence after previous immigration violations

Applicants for an immigrant visa or adjustment of status as a Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) self-petitioner or the child of a VAWA self-petitioner

  1. All grounds listed for the adjustment of status applicants
  2. Unlawfully present after previous immigration violations

Applicants for adjustment of status based on T nonimmigrant status

  1. Most grounds listed in INA 212(a) (e.g. grounds related to health, criminal past, security, labor certification, illegally entering the country, documentation requirements, etc.)

Applicants for adjustment of status as a Special Immigrant Juvenile based on an approved Form I-360

  1. Most grounds listed in INA 212(a) (e.g. grounds related to health, criminal past, security, labor certification, illegally entering the country, documentation requirements, etc.)

How Does USCIS Decide Whether to Approve an I-601 Waiver?

While there are many grounds on which an applicant can be found inadmissible, a selected few are listed below to provide examples of circumstances under which USCIS will approve a 601 waiver.

Health Related Grounds

Applicants can be deemed ineligible if they lack proof of having had all required vaccinations. But USCIS may approve a waiver of vaccination inadmissibility if:

  • The applicant receives the needed vaccination
  • A qualified medical officer certifies that the vaccination wouldn't be medically appropriate, or
  • The Secretary of the DHS determines that requiring the vaccination would go against the applicant's religious beliefs or moral convictions.

Immigrant Membership in a Totalitarian Party

An applicant can be inadmissible if he or she is or has been affiliated with the Communist or any other totalitarian party. But a waiver may be granted if:

  • The applicant is the spouse, parent, son, daughter, brother, or sister of a U.S. citizen or a spouse, son, or daughter of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence, or the fiancé of a K visa petitioner
  • The alien isn't a threat to the security of the U.S.
  • The waiver is requested for humanitarian purposes, to assure family unity, or is otherwise in the public interest, and
  • In the immigration officer's opinion, the applicant's undesirability as a permanent resident is outweighed by social and humane considerations

Misrepresentation

An applicant is inadmissible if he or she intentionally lied about, or misrepresented, any significant fact while seeking a visa, admission to the U.S., or any other benefit under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). But the applicant may get a waiver if he or she can show that:

  • Refusal of admission to the U.S. would result in extreme hardship to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or parent, or to the K visa petitioner, and
  • In the immigration officer's opinion, the applicant's undesirability as a permanent resident is outweighed by social and humane considerations.

Unlawful Presence

A foreign national is inadmissible for three years if he or she has lived unlawfully in the U.S. for an uninterrupted period or more than 180 days but less than one year, and then voluntarily departed before removal proceedings were initiated against them. But a waiver may be granted for a foreign national who establishes at the visa interview that:

  • Refusal of admission to the U.S. would result in extreme hardship to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or parent, or the K visa petitioner, and
  • In the immigration officer's opinion, the applicant's undesirability as a permanent resident is outweighed by social and humane considerations.

Filing Fee

The filing fee for filing Form I-601 is $930 as of May 2023, is nonrefundable, and can be paid by check or money order.

Penalties

If you knowingly and willfully misrepresent or conceal a material fact on your I-601 waiver, or submit a false document or affidavit, USCIS may deny your waiver as well as any other immigrant benefit. Also, you may be subject to penalties and criminal prosecution.

Appealing a 601 Waiver Denial

If USCIS denies an I-601 waiver, the applicant may appeal the decision by filing Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal, with the USCIS Administrative Appeals Office.

More Resources

More Information About I-601 Waivers

In applying for an I-601 waiver, you'll need to submit to a check of your criminal history. It is used to determine whether you have a criminal record in either your home country or elsewhere. Having such a criminal history can create difficulties in obtaining an I-601 waiver.

If you can present evidence of extreme hardship, any fees associated with the application can also be waived or adjusted.

If an immediate relative or qualifying relative is already a citizen in the United States, you may also be eligible for prioritization in the I-601 application review process. Having family members in the U.S. who are already citizens often helps resolve many immigration-related issues. This is as true of visa applicants, as it is of applicants for these kinds of waivers.

Throughout the process, you will need to be in regular communication with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). You may also need to communicate with the U.S. Department of State. In your waiver request, you will need to meet with a consular officer where you are located. Consulting with an immigration lawyer may be helpful in this process.

Get Legal Help With Your I-601 Waiver

Immigration laws are subject to dramatic and sudden changes. The details of your individual situation are important considerations. Before submitting a waiver, it's a good idea to contact a local immigration attorney. An attorney can provide legal advice about the I-601 waiver and guide you through the application process.

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