When U.S. immigration authorities investigate a visa or Green Card applicant’s background, they can be determined to be “inadmissible” to the country for a variety of reasons. In most cases, these reasons include a history of criminal or terrorist activities, espionage, drug use or trafficking, having an infectious disease, or other serious circumstances.
It might seem like it’s impossible to overcome an inadmissibility determination, but that’s not always the case. There are waivers available for certain classes of inadmissibility that effectively convey a legal “forgiveness” for the reason why the individual was determined to be inadmissible.
An inadmissibility waiver represents the U.S. government’s willingness to overlook a reason for inadmissibility and make it possible for someone to proceed with their visa or Green Card application.
There are, however, no waivers for the following classes of inadmissibility:
- Drug abusers or addicts
- Drug traffickers
Waiver of Unlawful Presence
The most common waiver of inadmissibility issued in the U.S. is likely that for unlawful presence in the U.S. If someone has accumulated unlawful presence in the U.S. and is subject to a three-year or 10-year ban, they may be qualified for a Waiver of Grounds of Admissibility (Form I-601) if their spouse or fiancé is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, or have a parent who would experience extreme hardship if admission to the U.S. is denied.
An Application for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver (Form I-601A) also expands eligibility to request a provisional waiver while someone is already living in the U.S. as long as they are a spouse or child of lawful permanent residents and/or the siblings of U.S. citizens or their adult married children.
A complicated component of gaining a waiver of unlawful presence is demonstrating extreme hardship. This is not a concept understood in a legal sense, but rather an even more subjective interpretation of what it would mean to a relative if someone was denied admission to the U.S. This interpretation, for better or worse, is often left up to the immigration officer reviewing one’s case and making that determination.
Mitigating factors can strengthen someone’s application for an inadmissibility waiver. These factors can include children with a qualified relative, a genuine belief that one was complying with immigration laws, or that one came to the U.S. as a young child because of his or her parents’ actions.
Waiver of Immigration Misrepresentation
It might seem unlikely, but it’s actually fairly common to be “forgiven” if one secured an immigration benefit through fraud or misrepresentation. This is never the case if someone fraudulently claimed to be a U.S. citizen, but other means of fraud or misrepresentation can be forgiven under certain circumstances.
Typically, someone must be married or engaged to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. They can also qualify if they have a parent living in the U.S. with either of these statuses. Just as with an unlawful presence waiver, however, one must demonstrate that their relative would experience extreme hardship if one is denied admission in spite of his or her fraud or misrepresentation.
Waivers of Certain Criminal Grounds of Inadmissibility
Having a criminal history isn’t a dealbreaker for certain offenses and as long as enough time has passed since the last crime was committed. It’s possible to receive admission to the U.S. in spite of crimes of moral turpitude, prostitution, and a single offense of possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana. Criminal convictions for murder, torture, aggravated felonies, or other drug laws are not eligible for a waiver.
If someone’s previous convictions otherwise qualify them for a waiver, they must meet at least one of the following requirements:
- More than 15 years have passed since the crime was committed and admission to the U.S. is applied for. You must demonstrate that you are not a threat to public safety or national security and that you are rehabilitated.
- A U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident who is your spouse, fiancé, child, or parent will experience extreme hardship if you are denied admission.
How Do I Apply for an Immigration Waiver?
Regardless of the waiver you need, your chances for the best possible outcome can be secured by reaching out to an immigration lawyer for assistance. This person should have the legal knowledge, experience, and skill it takes to advise you on the waiver you need and how to facilitate the overall process.
If you need such legal representation, consider the services of our attorney at Thorley Defense Law. Attorney Rebeca Thorley is herself an immigrant and has first-hand knowledge of what the immigrant experience is like in the U.S. Rest assured that we can handle your immigration needs and offer confidence in knowing what can lay ahead.