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Form I-601A

Your Guide to Form I-601A Unlawful Presence Waivers in Arizona

The reasons range from criminal activity and national security to health issues and the potential of becoming a public charge. One specific factor that may result in being found inadmissible is spending time in the US unlawfully, which could bar you from gaining status as a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR). You do have options if you are present in the US, and Form I-601A Application for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver could help you move forward with getting a green card.

In the past, you would have been required to leave the US to file for a waiver of inadmissibility, risking the possibility that USCIS would deny re-entry. Since 2013, Form I-601A has been the solution for individuals who are in the US and want to eliminate unlawful presence as a barrier.

A Form I-601A waiver involves a very strict process, and the application is among the most complex of US immigration laws. To gain an advantage with preparing and filing your documents, it is wise to work with an Arizona immigration applications attorney who knows the requirements and will help you meet them. You can also learn about what to expect with this guide to unlawful presence waivers.

Overview of Form I-601A

Even when USCIS finds that you are inadmissible on different grounds, there are still options for having officials overlook these factors and allow you to continue with your immigration goals. The Form I-601A application is intended for those who were illegally present in the US at some point before applying for an immigrant visa, and who want USCIS to disregard this ground for inadmissibility.

Form I-601A is a standalone form, which means that you cannot file it with any other applications, petitions, or requests for immigration status. In fact, USCIS will reject any other documentation and return the packet to you if you attempt to link Form I-601A.

The sole purpose of the unlawful presence waiver is to find out whether you will be banned from re-entry if you leave the US to apply for a green card. If you are present in the US for varying lengths of time illegally, you could be barred from returning for 3 to 10 years. If you get USCIS approval on Form 601-A, you have certainty knowing that these bans have been waived. There is still no guarantee that you will get a green card when you leave the US to apply, but at least you know your status with respect to the 3- and 10-year bans.

Understanding Grounds for Inadmissibility in Arizona

An important note about Form I-601A is that it can only be used to address one ground for inadmissibility, which is the unlawful presence factor. You cannot cover other grounds or request that they be waived through this application. If there are other reasons you are inadmissible, you must first resolve these by filing a separate document.

Form I-601 – Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility covers various reasons USCIS might find you not admissible, and there are different options to waive them for your visa category. If you get approval for a Form I-601 waiver, you can then continue with your application to waive unlawful presence.


Determining Eligibility for a Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver

Based on this overview of Form I-601A and USCIS regulations, you can do a basic assessment of your eligibility by reviewing the criteria to file. Factors include, but are not limited to:

  • You must be present in the US when submitting Form I-601A.
  • All applicants must be at least 17 years old when filing.
  • You are the beneficiary of an approved petition for an immigrant visa, such as for an alien spouse, worker, or a qualifying spouse or child.
  • You will be found inadmissible because you spent time in the US illegally. The 3-year ban would apply if you were unlawfully present for 180 days to a year, and the 10-year bar on re-entry is for those present for a year or more.

These are the basic criteria for requesting a waiver for unlawful presence, and an Arizona Form I-601A lawyer will advise you on additional requirements that may be part of the process.

Certain Applicants Disqualified in Arizona

It is also useful to know how you could be ineligible for file Form I-601A. An initial factor is whether you have other grounds for inadmissibility to address through Form I-601, but there are some other considerations to keep in mind. You could be disqualified from seeking an unlawful presence waiver if:

  • You have already applied to register permanent residence or change status while in the US, by filing  USCIS Form I-485.
  • You are currently in removal proceedings.
  • There is an order for removal, exclusion, or deportation issued against you.

Walk Through the Form I-601A Process

Though the information you must provide and supporting documentation are the core of your Form I-601A application, it is critical to understand the steps and order of completing different tasks. The specifics will vary for different applicants, but the process generally works as follows:

  1. A US citizen or LPR files a family-based petition to prove that a marital or other qualifying family member relationship exists with an alien seeking a green card. Alternatively, a company or other sponsor may file an employment-based petition for an alien worker.
  2. If USCIS approves the immigration petition, the person seeking the green card receives information from the National Visa Center (NVC) about the next steps.
  3. Because you are aware of grounds for inadmissibility due to unlawful presence, you file your Form I-601A to request a waiver from USCIS.
  4. When USCIS grants the waiver, you have certainty knowing that the 3- or 10-year bans have been lifted. You will still need to meet all requirements for an immigrant visa, but you know that unlawful presence will NOT be grounds for inadmissibility at this point.
  5. You must leave the US and return to your home country for consulate processing, where the local US Embassy or Consulate will handle your visa application and green card.

Instructions for USCIS Form I-601A

The application requires you to provide many details about yourself, including mailing and physical address, identification numbers from USCIS and NVC, and many others. You should be prepared to supply the following information with Form I-601A:

  • Your most recent and prior entries to the US;
  • Any pending immigration proceedings or court cases;
  • Criminal history, including cases where you were arrested but not charged; and,
  • Biographic information and physical characteristics.

One of the most important sections of the Form I-601A application is where you provide facts about a qualifying relative. The basis for waiving unlawful presence is that someone would suffer extreme hardship if you were not granted a waiver. If being denied admission to the US would cause harm to a US citizen, LPR spouse, or LPR parent, USCIS is more likely to approve Form I-601A.

Supporting Evidence 

USCIS requires numerous documents and other forms of evidence to support the claims and statements you make in your Form I-601A. Some requirements are personal and for identification purposes, so you must submit your passport, photo ID, your immigrant visa fee receipt from NVC, and others. When necessary to establish a marital or family relationship, you should provide birth and death certificates, marriage certificates, and divorce decrees.

It will also be necessary to submit any and all evidence to support your claim that a US citizen or LPR would suffer extreme hardship. To determine whether the qualifying relative would be harmed by you being denied entry, USCIS looks at such factors as health and financial matters. Officials will also take into account your educational opportunities and any personal considerations, such as ties to other relatives and the community. Examples of documents that are useful in proving these factors include:

  • Expert opinions;
  • Evidence of business and employment, such as payroll and tax records;
  • Information on expenses and bills;
  • Medical records and documentation showing the health and well-being of the qualifying relative; and,
  • Any other evidence or paperwork that demonstrates extreme hardship.

Legal Help with Unlawful Presence Waivers

It is helpful to review the purpose of Form I-601A, the steps for applying, and instructions for meeting USCIS requirements. However, you can see that retaining an Arizona immigration waivers lawyer should be a priority when you seek to waive unlawful presence. There are eligibility questions and numerous tasks to complete before you file, and it is critical to get help with preparing the application. An immigration attorney will be at your side throughout the process to assist with:

  • Advising you on eligibility for an unlawful presence waiver and determining if other grounds for inadmissibility exist;
  • Collecting information from you to complete the Form I-601A;
  • Gathering supporting documents and evidence for the application;
  • Reviewing any Requests for Evidence (RFE) if USCIS asks for more information or paperwork;
  • Assisting with next steps if USCIS approves your Form I-601A, which requires you to leave the US and return to your home country to continue your immigration journey through consular processing.

Consult with an Arizona Immigration Lawyer About Form I-601A  

This guide is useful, but you will need additional details about waivers if you were found inadmissible for unlawful presence. For personalized advice about how to move forward with getting your green card, please contact Diamondback Legal in Phoenix. You can call (602) 755-3199 or visit us online to schedule a consultation with an Arizona immigration applications attorney.

Related Content: How Can I File an Application to Replace My Permanent Resident Card in Arizona?

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