Our office has focused a large portion of our practice towards the filing of consular applications for immigrant visas and corresponding applications for waivers of inadmissibility, though waiver applications apply in the adjustment of status context as well. That said, our office fluently speaks the waiver language and can evaluate your life circumstances however they are to help you present the strongest arguments.
When a person applies for permanent residency or “admission” in the U.S., USCIS or the Consulate evaluates whether the applicant is subject to any of the Immigration and Nationality Act’s “grounds of inadmissibility.” These are essentially all the reasons the government can deny your benefit. There are many different grounds of inadmissibility and many rarely apply to the typical applicant. But some are very common and can serious jeopardize your future ability to immigrate. These are:
- 3 or 10-year unlawful presence bar, which apply if you have ever resided “unlawfully” in the U.S. for more than 180 days and then departed the U.S. If this applies to you, you will be ineligible to return to the U.S. until you have spent at least 3 years (if more than 180 days but less than 1 year) or 10 years outside of the country unless you obtain approval of an I-601 application for waiver
- Convictions for crimes involving moral turpitude and other serious criminal convictions – the law is strict when it comes to criminal convictions. There are complex rules to analyze to determine whether your conviction makes you inadmissible and whether you can modify or vacate your conviction to avoid complications. Convictions can also be waived.
- Material misrepresentations or lies to immigration – use of fake resident cards or visas to gain entry to the U.S.; lying about your intent to immigrate to the U.S. upon entry with a valid visitor visa; failing to disclose information on an application that would affect your eligibility, etc. This penalty is also waivable.
- Falsely claiming U.S. citizen to gain any benefit including employment, student loans, etc. is a permanent, lifetime bar against immigrating
- Entering the U.S. without inspection after a prior removal order or a period of a year in the aggregate of unlawful presence in the U.S. – this is also a permanent bar; however, you are eligible to seek permission to return to the U.S. once you have spent ten years outside the U.S.
- Deportation or removals can give you 5 or 10 or 20 years barred from the U.S. These can be waived in some circumstances.
- Assisting or “smuggling” any person into the U.S., which includes your spouse and children. But if your immediate family, you can apply for a relatively simple waiver of this provision.
Many other provisions may apply in your case, which is why it is important to consult with a competent immigration lawyer and for you to provide all the details about your history.
As stated, some of these provisions can be waived through the filing of an application for a waiver, which is a form that you will file to ask immigration to forgive the penalty. But each provision has its own requirements as to whom is eligible for a waiver and what standards you must meet. Most commonly, the 3 and 10-year bars are waived through the filing of the I-601 or I-601A application based upon extreme hardship to your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse or parent. Establishing extreme hardship is a demanding and detailed process, and you will have considerable evidence to collect to support your application. An understanding, creative, and experienced immigration lawyer is key to success with this application.