A non-citizen may be considered “inadmissible” to the United States for various reasons: unlawful presence, prostitution, criminal activity, health-related concerns, and more. This would threaten their ability to come to the U.S. for any reason, to adjust their status, or obtain an immigrant visa.

Fortunately, there are ways to waive inadmissibility. This may be done through form I-601: Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility or I-601A: Provisional Waiver of Inadmissibility. Eligibility requirements are strict, and the process of filing for such a waiver can be challenging, which is why we recommend involving an attorney to guide you and protect your interests.

At Gorton Law LLC, we offer experienced I-601 and I-601A counsel for clients across Massachusetts from our office in Malden. Our attorneys are resolute in their pursuit of our clients’ immigration goals, and we take care to provide communication and support through every stage of a case.

I-601A Waiver: Provisional Waiver of Inadmissibility

One of the first things anyone learns about immigration law is that you typically need to have come to the United States with a visa to apply for a green card. People who entered the United States “EWI” (entered without inspection) are told that they cannot adjust status and that they would need to apply for a visa outside the U.S.

But, because they entered the United States illegally, they would be barred from returning to the United States if they ever left to go to the visa interview in their country of citizenship. A person who entered EWI could be inadmissible for up to 10 years. They would have to wait in their country for months while waiting to have a waiver approved. Unsurprisingly, this was not something people could afford to do.

On March 4, 2013, the Department of Homeland Security adopted a new process, called the I-601A Waiver, which is technically known as a “Provisional Waiver of Inadmissibility” or the “Stateside Waiver.” The letter A in “601A” shows that it is the stateside version of the I-601 form.

“The I-601A process is one of the most important changes in immigration regulation in the 21st century. It helps relieve tremendous pressure on the immigration system that had been building since the end of the LIFE Act in December 2000.”

– Attorney Jamie Gorton

I-601A Waiver Eligibility

To apply for the I-601A Waiver, a person must:

  • Be in the United States and over the age of 17;
  • Meet regulatory criteria regarding payment of fees, Immigration Court orders, and other technical details (we recommend letting an immigration attorney review these for you);
  • Have an approved I-130, I-360, or Diversity Visa;
  • Be inadmissible only for unlawful presence in the United States (the I-601A does not address criminal inadmissibility, fraud inadmissibility, multiple illegal entries, or other problems); and
  • Show that a U.S. Citizen on lawful permanent resident (LPR) spouse or parent will suffer “extreme hardship” if the waiver is denied.

I-601 Waivers: Fraud, Criminal Convictions & Unlawful Presence

While I-601A Waivers will not apply in any case other than unlawful presence, I-601 Waivers may also apply to cases of fraud or misrepresentation and criminal convictions.

I-601 Waivers are handled on a case by case basis. An immigration judge may deny or approve an application based on the facts at hand, and it will be up to you, the applicant, to prove that your inadmissibility status should be waived.

In an I-601 Waiver involving fraud or misrepresentation, you may need to prove one of the following:

  • Lack of intent.
  • Actual fraud or misrepresentation did not occur.

With any I-601 Waiver, you will also need to prove that being separated from your U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or parent would create an extreme hardship.

What Is Extreme Hardship?

USCIS has never pinned down an exact definition of “extreme hardship.” At Gorton Law LLC, we think about extreme hardship as being some combination of physical health problems or disability, mental health or emotional health problems, economic hardship that considers each family’s unique budget, loss of educational opportunities, and special factors that connect back to the applicant’s country of citizenship or culture.

Can I Apply Because My U.S. Citizen Children Will Suffer Extreme Hardship?

No. The regulations do not allow U.S. citizen children to be “qualifying relatives.” However, our attorneys know that every situation is different, and sometimes hardship to the U.S. citizen children will reflect on the U.S. citizen spouse or parent. This is especially true if the U.S. citizen child has special needs or medical conditions that require parental care and attention.

What If I Am in Immigration Court?

If you are in Immigration Court, we recommend working with an immigration law office that can handle both your Immigration Court defense and your I-601 or I-601A Waiver at the same time.

Your immigration court case will have to be “administratively closed” by the immigration judge before you apply for an I-601A.

On May 17, 2018, the Attorney General issued a decision in Matter of Castro-Tum, which directed the Immigration Judges to stop granting administrative closure in all but very rare circumstances. This is bad news for anyone in immigration court with U.S. citizen family members who wanted to apply for the I-601A.

Contact Our Malden Immigration Team

If you want to complete a confidential consultation with one of our experienced Boston immigration attorneys, now is the time to get in touch with Gorton Law LLC. We can answer all your questions about I-601 and I-601A Waivers, which may apply to your situation, and how to waive grounds of inadmissibility to the U.S. based on extreme hardship. Every case is different, which is why we take the time to understand each client’s unique goals, needs, and concerns.