The Golden Ticket: I-601A Unlawful Presence Waiver

An Immigrant’s Ticket Back to the United States

The United States is literally forgiving immigrants that have been here illegally. The 601A Unlawful Presence Waiver is a form of relief to immigrant that are seeking to adjust their status through their spouse, parent, or child over age 21. The 601A, in essence, grants forgiveness to immigrants that have spent time in the United States unlawfully.

The 601A waiver is crucial because most immigrants that entered the United States illegally have accrued unlawful status. If they want to adjust their status, this means they must attend their immigrant visa interview in their home country (certain exceptions apply). This interview requires them to leave the U.S., which may trigger 3 or 10-year bars to coming back. If an immigrant steps foot outside of the U.S. for any reason, including to attend their interview, and they have accrued unlawful status of over 6 months, they won’t be able to come back for 3-10 years, depending on the amount of unlawful presence they accrued. Having said that, the 601A waiver grants forgiveness to person seeking to adjust their status. The waiver allows them to go to their interview in their home country and come back safely without getting stuck outside the U.S. for years. Please keep in mind that it does not cure all grounds of inadmissibility.

To be eligible for a 601A waiver, An individual must:

  1. Be at least 17 years old,
  2. Be physically present in the United States when they apply for the waiver,
  3. Have an approved immigrant petition, like an I-130 petition filed by a qualifying family member,
  4. Have a U.S. citizen or green card holder spouse or parent that would suffer an extreme hardship if the applicant were to be removed to their home county, AND
  5. Have an immigrant visa interview scheduled at a U.S. consulate abroad.

If an individual meets the requirements listed above, they may apply for a 601A waiver while in the U.S. The current processing times are around 36 months, but vary depending on which field office receives your application. Please keep in mind that the waiver is not available to parents. For example: Isabel was born in Mexico and entered the U.S. illegally in 2000. That same year Isabel gave birth to Juan in the U.S. making Juan a U.S. born citizen. Juan is now 21 and wants to petition for his mom to get a green card. Unfortunately, Juan will not be able to petition for his mother successfully because Isabel has accrued over 180 days of unlawful presence and she does not qualify for the 601A waiver.” The 601A waiver is only available to those applicants that have a U.S. citizen or green card holder parent or spouse. For that reason, if Juan decided to petition for Isabel, she would go to her interview in Mexico and get stuck out there for 3-10 years depending on how long she spent in the U.S. unlawfully.

It is important to note that each case is different and you should consult with a knowledgeable attorney to review your case thoroughly.

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