I-601A WAIVER: PROVISIONAL UNLAWFUL PRESENCE WAIVER

The I-601A Waiver allows certain immigrant visa applicants who are currently in the U.S. to apply for an unlawful presence waiver before they leave the U.S. to attend their Consular Interview.

This waiver was created on March 4, 2013 and was designed to promote family unity and allow those who have resided with their families in the U.S., and who would otherwise be ineligible for adjustment of status. On August 29, 2016 this waiver process was expanded to all individuals statutorily eligible for an immigrant visa including immediate relatives, family-sponsored, or employment-based immigrants as well as Diversity Visa selectees; who only need a waiver of inadmissibility due to unlawful presence.

In order to qualify for an I-601A Waiver, you must demonstrate that the denial of the waiver or the refusal of admission to the U.S. would cause extreme hardship to your U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident spouse or parent.

At Tsang & Associates, we have a history of successfully filing I-601A waivers for our clients and will help you compile all of the necessary documents and information to demonstrate extreme hardship.

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I-601A PROCESS OVERVIEW

Step 1: File I-130 Petition

In order to qualify for an I-601A waiver, you must have an I-130 petition approval from a qualifying relative. Our office will help you file the I-130 petition and secure the approval.

Step 2: Strategy Session for the I-601A Waiver application

This is the most crucial step for your entire I-601A Waiver application. Once the I-130- is filed, we will set up a strategy meeting to thoroughly review the I-601A, and hear your story so that we are able to assemble the best case on your behalf. We will review all of the supporting documents to create a strategy, a customized checklist, and a timeline to serve as the guiding foundation for the entire case preparation.

 

Step 3: Prepare and Submit the I-601A Waiver application

Our attorneys will craft your I-601A Waiver arguments and complete all forms, organize supporting documents, and assemble the crafted arguments into the proper application formats. After a thorough review, we will then submit the application to USCIS.

 

Step 4: Biometrics Appointment

You will need to attend a biometrics appointment most commonly known as fingerprinting appointment as part of your I-601A Waiver application. USCIS will conduct a mandatory criminal background check and verify your identity. The process itself does not take long and our office will assist you during this process.

 

Step 5: Responding to Additional USCIS Requests / Administrative Processing / Status Checks / Fraud Alerts

If additional documents or evidence are needed upon the submission of the case or after the interview, our office will ensure that all necessary documents are submitted to the USCIS office in a timely manner. We will assist you to the best of our ability until the case gets approved or you no longer want to continue moving forward with the case.

 

Step 6: Await Approval by USCIS

USCIS will review and adjudicate your I-601 Waiver packet and upon approval, they will notify both you and USCIS or the U.S. Consulate / Embassy. Subsequently, you will be scheduled to appear for an interview.

 

Step 7: Upload documents to the National Visa Center

Once your I-601A waiver is approved by USCIS, we will upload all necessary documentation to the National Visa Center, and help you navigate through the consular process.

 

Step 8: Prepare the client for the Interview

When you work with Tsang & Associates on your I-601A Waiver, we will help guide you in your preparation for the interview with the US Consulate or by simulating the interview and ensuring you are well-versed in the application material. Our I-601A services include a comprehensive strategy for answering inquiries posed, practice questions, thorough feedback, and other tools to help clients succeed during the interview. You will need to attend the official interview by yourself per the D.O.S regulations.

 

Step 9: Approval is Only the Beginning

Our services do not end when you receive your Immigration Visa approval, as this step is just the beginning. We will educate you on the steps moving forward including: N-400 Citizenship Applications, Family Member Petitions or Sponsorships, and more!

 

I-601A COSTS & FEES

Our fee structure is unique to us as we strive to tailor our services for each client individually. We adapt price standards that are capable of fluctuating for each client depending on their unique needs. Clients may retain us for one or all of the above steps/services. Below are the required I-601A Waiver filing fees and a sample legal fee for a provisional unlawful presence waiver.

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I-601A Form Filing Fee: $630

The most up-to-date I-601A filing fee can always be found on the USCIS’s website or you can use the USCIS Fee Calculator to calculate how much the government filing fees are.

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Biometric Service Fee: $85

All I-601A Waivers require an $85 biometric service fee for each person that’s seeking inadmissibility due to unlawful presence in the US. Use the USCIS Office Locator to find and schedule your biometric service at the office closest to you.

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I-601A Legal Fee: $10,000

Our base fee for a standard I-601A case is $10,000 and does not include any government fees or third-party expenses. We are happy to customize a proposal for you during your I-601A consultation.

ESTIMATED TOTAL I-601A COSTS: $10,715

Filing Fee Payment Details: You may pay the filing fee with a money order, personal check, or cashier’s check.  When filing at a USCIS Lockbox facility, you may also pay by credit card using Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions. If you pay by check, you must make your check payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and we will help you send it to the correct USCIS Mailing Address. Please note that service centers are not able to process credit card payments.

When you send a payment, you agree to pay for a government service. Filing and biometric service fees are final and non-refundable, regardless of any action we take on your application, petition, or request, or if you withdraw your request.

I-601A PROCESSING TIME

As with any USCIS petition or application, form I-601A processing times vary depending on the nature of the case. The number of applications and petitions that have been received by USCIS will also affect processing times, as will the accuracy of the information and the amount of evidence you provide with your petition.

In our experience, the typical processing time for the I-601A Waiver of Inadmissibility is about 4-6 months, however in the last year, USCIS has experienced significant backlog and the average processing time has increased to 36 months. Therefore it is critical that you create a strategy with your legal representative to avoid additional delays. You can use the USCIS Processing Timetable to figure out how long the I-601A processing time will take.

~24-36 Months

I-601A PROVISIONAL UNLAWFUL PRESENCE WAIVER REQUIREMENTS

Eligibility for Form I-601A Waiver (Who Is Eligible for I-601A Waiver?)

  1. Be 17 years of age or older.
  2. Be physically present in the United States to file your application for an I-601A provisional unlawful presence waiver and provide biometrics.
  3. Have a case pending with the U.S. Department of State, based on:
    • An approved immigrant visa petition (family-based or employment-based), for which the Department of State immigrant visa processing visa has been paid; OR
    • Selection by the Department of State to participate in the Diversity Visa Program under section 203(c) of the Immigration & Nationality Act or the fiscal year for which the alien registered;
  4. Will depart from the United States to obtain the immigrant visa.
  5. Meet the requirements for a waiver provided in section 212(a)(9)(B)(v) of the Immigration & National Act. Namely, to be able to demonstrate that refusal of your admission to the United States will cause extreme hardship to your U.S. citizen or U.S. lawful permanent resident spouse or parent.
  6. You are inadmissible ONLY for unlawful presence in the United States for more than 180 days but less than 1 year during a single stay (INA Section 212(a)(9)(B)(i)(I)), or unlawful presence in the United States for 1 year or more during a single stay (INA Section 212(a)(9)(B)(i)(II).

Checklist of Required Evidence

  • Your immigrant visa petition approval notice or Department of State (DOS) Electronic Diversity Visa Entrant Status Check printout (if applicable)
  • A copy of your Department of Justice EOIR Administrative Closure Order (if applicable)
  • A copy of your Form I-797, Notice of Action, showing we approved your Form I-212, Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the United States After Deportation or Removal (if applicable)
  • Your DOS Immigrant Visa Processing Fee Receipt (for immediate relatives, family-sponsored, and employment-based immigrant visa applicants)
  • Evidence of your relationship to your qualifying relative (if applicable)
  • Evidence of U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent resident status of your qualifying relative (if applicable)
  • Evidence of your admission or parole
  • Evidence of extreme hardship
  • Evidence your case warrants a favorable exercise of discretion

I-601A Waiver Consultation Checklist

In order to provide you with the best and most accurate consultation, we recommend that you bring as many of the following information/documents as you can to ensure a productive meeting.

  1. Evidence of commitment to community via letters, awards, memberships, social media presence, etc.
  2. School and/or work records and resume
  3. Medical history
  4. Financial information and documents
  5. Evidence of property ownership
  6. Evidence of relationship with petitioner via cards, letters, emails, visits, etc.
  7. Lots of pictures
  8. Evidence of child(ren)’s commitment to community via letters, awards, memberships, social media presence, etc.

Success Stories & Case Studies

At Tsang & Associates, we have successfully completed numerous I-601A Waiver applications, as our success statistics and client reviews show. If you would like to read about peoples’ experiences working with Tsang & Associates, you can view our I-601A success stories.

At Tsang & Associates, our experienced attorneys will assist you in filing form I-601A. Our clients have chosen us due to our friendly customer service, proven rates of success, and knowledgeable staff. We are committed to putting your best interest at the forefront of everything we do, and to make the process as smooth as possible. Our staff is fluent in Mandarin, Spanish, Korean, and English and we currently work with clients from all over the world.

Relevant Law

Section 212(a)(9)(B)(v) of the Immigration and Nationality Act

Aliens unlawfully present

(v) Waiver

The Attorney General has sole discretion to waive clause (i) in the case of an immigrant who is the spouse or son or daughter of a United States citizen or of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence, if it is established to the satisfaction of the Attorney General that the refusal of admission to such immigrant alien would result in extreme hardship to the citizen or lawfully resident spouse or parent of such alien. No court shall have jurisdiction to review a decision or action by the Attorney General regarding a waiver under this clause.

Extreme Hardship

The purpose of a waiver application is to demonstrate that the U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) immediate relative of a foreign national will suffer extreme hardship due to either the removal of the immediate relative or the forced relocation to said relative’s native country. Within the law, however, there is no specific definition of the notion of “extreme hardship.” Ultimately, the key term in the provision is “extreme,” and thus only in cases of actual or prospective injury to the U.S. Citizen or LPR will the waiver be approved. Factors that constitute extreme hardship include:

  1. Health, in regards to:
    1. Ongoing or specialized treatment requirements for a physical or mental condition
    2. Availability and quality of such treatment in your country and the anticipated duration of the treatment
    3. Chronic or acute nature of condition, long or short-term nature of condition
  2. Financial considerations, in regards to:
    1. Future employability
    2. Loss due to sale of home or business, or termination of a professional practice
    3. Decline in standard of living and ability to recoup short-term losses
    4. Cost of extraordinary needs, such as special education or training for children
    5. Cost of caring for family members, such as elderly and infirm parents
  3. Education, in regards to:
    1. Loss of opportunity for higher education
    2. Lower quality or limited scope of education options
    3. Disruption of current program
    4. Requirement to be educated in a foreign language or culture with ensuing loss of time in grade level
    5. Availability of special requirements, such as training programs or internships in specific fields
  4. Personal considerations, in regards to:
    1. Close relatives in the U.S. and/or your country
    2. Separation from spouse/children and the ages of involved parties
    3. Length of residence and community ties in the U.S.
  5. Special factors, in regards to:
    1. Cultural, linguistic, religious, and ethnic obstacles
    2. Valid fears of persecution, physical harm, or injury
    3. Social ostracism or stigma and access to social institutions or structures

SAMPLE & TEMPLATES

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Attorney Brief:  [coming soon] We will provide an attorney brief sample for the I-601A petition.

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I-601A Cover Letter: [coming soon] We will also provide a cover letter sample for the I-601A Waiver petition.

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Sample Request for Evidence: [coming soon] Requests for evidence can be used to strengthen the case.

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Sample I-601A Waiver Checklist: [coming soon] We look at the client’s unique situation and create customized checklists to strengthen their cases.

I-601A FAQs

  • What is the difference between the I-601 and I-601a?

    The I-601 application is the traditional waiver filed to gain admission to the U.S. Under this process, the beneficiary files the form while residing outside of the U.S. and remains outside of the country for an extended period of time as their application is reviewed.

    Similarly, the I-601A waiver petitions to provisionally waive inadmissibility specifically for unlawful presence. This waiver allows individuals who only need to waive their unlawful presence to remain in the United States during the application process, as well as before they depart for their immigrant visa interviews at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. This new process is expected to shorten the time during which U.S. Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents are separated from their immediate foreign national relatives as they go through the process of obtaining immigrant visas on their path to becoming Lawful Permanent Residents.

  • What does it mean to be an immediate relative? Can I file for this waiver if my sibling is the petitioner?

    In order to qualify for these waivers, extreme hardship must be demonstrated for a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident immediate relative who is the beneficiary’s spouse or parent. A sibling’s relationship is not enough to qualify for extreme hardship.

  • Does the I601A provisional waiver apply to all grounds of inadmissibility?

    No, the I601A waiver application solely applies to any inadmissibility rulings pertaining to unlawful presence, including applicants subjected to the 3-year or 10-year bar upon leaving the U.S.

  • Is an interview required in I-601A waiver cases?

    Your interview will be scheduled with the consulate in the country of origin. See our I-601 Success Stories to learn more about this.

  • How can I prepare for my interview?

    We will help you compile a list of things that you can bring to the interview. We also help our clients learn about the interview process and what questions will be asked. We will give you potential questions and help you come up with answers to the questions. Then we will ask you the questions and help you prepare for it.

  • How do I know if my I-601 waiver application will be approved when I file it?

    Waiver approval is completely dependent on a case-by-case basis, and there is no way to definitively tell how USCIS will decide. Filing a complete application and extensive supporting documentation can improve your chances of approval.

  • What if my petition or waiver is denied? Can I appeal?

    An appeal of a petition denial can only be reviewed by an immigration judge in a removal/deportation hearing (immigration court). While it is not possible to otherwise appeal an I-601 denial or submit a Motion to Reopen, you also have the possibility of refiling a waiver after a denial.

  • How long is my permanent resident card valid for if approved?

    If approved, your permanent resident card will be valid for ten years.

  • What if I am currently in removal proceedings or have received a final order of removal?

    Participation in the provisional waiver process can only be entered if your removal proceedings have been “administratively closed” and have not been rescheduled at the time the waiver application is filed. Anyone subject to final orders of removal are ineligible to participate in provisional waiver applications.

  • How long does it take for an I-601A waiver to be approved?

    It generally takes 24 to 36 months to process an I-601A Waiver application.

  • What happens after the I-601A waiver is approved?

    Once your I-601A waiver is approved by USCIS, the National Visa Center (NVC) will provide a scheduled interview. After receiving an interview, you should schedule a medical exam overseas and make plans for your departure from the U.S. For your interview, you will travel to the US embassy or US consulate overseas. The expected time spent outside of the U.S. awaiting the interview decision is an estimated 3 weeks. When attending your interview, you will need to bring all requested documents and unopened sealed medical exam envelope from your medical exam. From this point after, you will receive your immigration visa. From this point forward, you will have four weeks to enter the U.S. once again.

  • Does I-601A expire?

    According to USCIS, an approved I-601A waiver does not expire. However, there are various ways an I-601A waiver can be rejected.

  • What percentage of I-601A Waivers are approved?

    The approval percentage of I-601A waivers varies from year to year. The most recent data provided by USCIS states that the acceptance rate for I-601A waivers is an average of 70.2%.