Waivers for Grounds of Inadmissibility
Some individuals who seek to apply for permanent residency or a temporary immigration status in the United States may not do so without a pardon or “waiver” for certain issues that make them inadmissible to the U.S.
What makes a person inadmissible?
An applicant for a Green Card and/or other visas may be subject to inadmissibility and require the approval of a waiver application before they can obtain the immigration status that they are seeking. Inadmissibility can occur due to the following:
- You have been unlawfully present in the U.S. for longer than 6 months (resulting in a 3-year bar), or 1 year or more (resulting in a 10-year bar);
- You have been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT), a controlled substance violation, prostitution, or other criminal violations;
- You have sought to procure an immigration benefit by fraud or by misrepresenting a material fact;
- You have helped someone enter the U.S. illegally (known as “smuggling”), even if the person you helped was a close family member;
- You have a physical or mental disorder with associated harmful behavior that poses or may pose a threat to the property, safety, or welfare of you or others (note alcoholism can be considered a mental disorder under this ground);
- You have a certain communicable disease of public health significance.
The requirements for a waiver application vary depending on which ground of inadmissibility you are seeking to waive. The most common waiver of unlawful presence for the 3-year and 10-year bar requires a showing that your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse or parent would suffer extreme hardship if you were denied admission to the U.S.
Can I remain in the U.S. until my waiver is approved?
If unlawful presence is the only ground of inadmissibility, an applicant may be eligible to file a provisional waiver and remain in the United States while it is being processed by USCIS. Once this waiver is approved, he or she must travel to the U.S. consulate in their home country to attend the visa interview and may return immediately after obtaining the visa. If, however, a person has the unlawful presence bar as well as other inadmissibility factors, they will be required to remain outside of the U.S. until their waiver application is approved and they can obtain their visa at the U.S. consulate abroad.
Certain waivers are also available for individuals who are in removal proceedings in the Immigration Court and are subject to grounds of deportability.
To find out if you qualify for a waiver application, please schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.