Many individuals applying for lawful permanent resident status (the “green card”), either in the United States or at a consulate abroad, will need waivers before their applications can be approved. Below is some general information regarding the I-601 waiver:
What exactly does this waiver waive?
The I-601 waives several grounds of inadmissibility, including unlawful presence in the United States, certain criminal grounds, and certain types of alien smuggling.
When and where do I file the waiver application?
If you are applying for adjustment of status in the United States, you have two options. If you are sure that you need a waiver, you can file the application along with your application for a green card. Or, you can wait until your interview with USCIS, at which time the officer will tell you if you need a waiver and give you a deadline to submit the application. See our previous blog post on Adjustment of Status in the U.S. to see if you can apply inside the U.S. (http://www.immigrationlawseattle.com/blog/2015/11/24/applying-for-lawful-permanent-resident-status-the-green-card-through-the-consulate)
If you are applying for your green card through a consulate, you must first attend your scheduled interview. At the interview, the officer will tell you whether you need a waiver. Please note that in this process, you are not able to apply for the waiver prior to your interview. (For information regarding the provisional I-601A waiver, which is filed before leaving the U.S. for the interview and waives only unlawful presence, please see our blog post from December 2014, available here: http://www.immigrationlawseattle.com/blog/2014/12/30/obamas-changes-to-the-i-601a-waiver-process-expanded-eligibility-for-provisional-waivers-of-inadmissibility?
Who is eligible for a waiver and what do I have to show?
This waiver is available to spouses and children of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. To qualify, you must show that your U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or parent will suffer extreme hardship if you are not permitted to remain in the United States. All kinds of hardship can be considered, including emotional, psychological, medical, and financial hardship. Please note that if you have U.S. citizen children but do not have a spouse or parent who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, you will not qualify for this waiver.
The law regarding inadmissibility is complicated. Therefore, you should consult with an immigration attorney prior to filing any applications or leaving the country for an interview at the consulate.