U.S. immigration waivers are codified under various sections of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). They are designed to provide relief for those deemed inadmissible. 

  • Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility: This is a primary form used to apply for a waiver. Applicants must show that refusal of their admission would result in extreme hardship to a qualifying U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident family member. Each ground of inadmissibility has specific requirements for a waiver.
  • Form I-601A, Application for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver: For those who accrued unlawful presence, this waiver allows immediate relatives of U.S. citizens to apply for a waiver provisionally before leaving the U.S. for a consular interview.
  • Extreme Hardship: The term “extreme hardship” isn’t explicitly defined in the INA. However, precedent decisions and guidelines suggest it’s more than the usual hardship a family would face upon separation. Factors can include family ties, health, financial implications, education, personal considerations, and conditions in the applicant’s home country.
  • Affidavits and Evidence: Submitting well-documented evidence to support the waiver application is crucial. This can include affidavits, medical records, financial documents, and country condition reports.
  • Relevant Case Law: Appellate decisions, primarily from the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), provide interpretative guidance on various waiver provisions. Familiarity with favorable case law can strengthen an application.
  • Discretionary Decision: It’s essential to understand that even if an applicant meets the technical requirements for a waiver, the decision to grant it remains discretionary. As such, positive equities (long-term residence, family ties, significant contributions to the community) should be emphasized.

For those hoping to navigate the waiver process successfully, it’s beneficial to consult with immigration attorneys who have a deep understanding of both statutory provisions and relevant case law. With proper guidance, many individuals can put forth the strongest possible application, increasing the likelihood of approval.

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