Guide to I-601a
Form I-601a, often known as a provisional waiver application or provisional unlawful presence waiver, allows some immigrants to request their unlawful presence bar to be waived while they remain in the United States.
Author: Jameel Manji, Founder, Manji Law, P.C.
Mr. Manji founded Manji Law in 2016 to follow his passion of helping people navigate the complicated immigration system. Mr. Manji graduated from Georgia State University College of Law and received Master of Taxation from the Georgia State’s J. Mack Robinson College of Business. Published on: June 24, 2019, Last Updated on: April 25, 2022.
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Understanding the I-601a Application
The form referred to as the I-601a can be the only way to avoid significant legal problems and certain deportation. Oftentimes, situations occur that result in well-meaning individuals remaining in the U.S. past the time for which they had permission. On these occasions, under Immigration and Nationality Act Section 212 (a)(9)(B), the relatives of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents can use the I-601a form to apply for a provisional unlawful presence waiver. Otherwise, they will suffer extreme hardship.
This allows immediate relatives (the U.S. citizen, or parent, or the U.S. lawful permanent resident spouse), employment-based or family-sponsored immigrants, and Diversity Visa selectees who are eligible for an immigrant visa to apply to have their unlawful presence in the U.S. waived before their immigration interview. Otherwise, they would not be eligible to remain.
Previously, these individuals had to wait until after they were denied the right to be in the U.S. based on a consulate interview. They would then apply for a waiver using the I-601a. This often took over a year. Now, they are allowed to await the results of the application while remaining in the U.S. with their family.
However, many people have questions regarding an I-601a status or I-601 timeline. Since the regulations regarding immigration are constantly changing, it would behoove you to contact an immigration attorney who is familiar with the latest laws of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Contemporary I 601a Process
The new I 601a process was created to decrease the amount of time for immigration benefits that those trying to become lawful permanent residents are separated from family members who are already U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents.
Plus, after a consular officer determines that someone is inadmissible to the U.S., that person is still able to file a Form I-601 (Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility). This is true even if he/she has no desire to seek (or doesn’t qualify for) a provisional unlawful presence waiver. A professional legal adviser can further explain the differences.
Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver Counsel
Navigating the process for obtaining a provisional unlawful presence waiver can be complex. Most people without the necessary legal background are unable to complete the I-601a on their own. Retaining an experienced immigration attorney is the best option to ensure the successful and satisfying completion of the process.
Manji Law, P.C. is dedicated to providing customers with the very best representation possible. The company is conveniently located in the center of downtown Decatur, Georgia, and only a couple of miles away from downtown Atlanta. Jameel Manji will passionately fight to see you permanently reunited with your family.
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Navigating the I601a
The I601a application process is difficult to fully understand and properly complete. In fact, the Division of State (DOS) may cancel your immigrant visa application if you fail to appear for your scheduled immigrant visa interview at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate, even if your provisional unlawful presence waiver was approved.
Plus, if you are in the process of being deported, you are generally ineligible for a provisional unlawful presence waiver. However, certain exceptions to this may apply. The intricacies of immigration law, including the I-601a, are detailed and complex. To help mitigate the consequences of your situation, it is wise to retain appropriate legal counsel. Attorneys with experience representing clients in the Atlanta immigration court can provide the necessary counsel.
I601a Waiver Odds of Approval
Among immigration attorneys, it is well-known that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) denies, on average, 25 to 35-percent of I-601a waivers every calendar year. This is approximately one in every three to four candidates.
To avoid being denied, it’s important to be aware of some common mistakes applicants routinely make in the immigrant visa process. Working with an experienced immigration attorney who builds a great attorney-client relationship can greatly help you avoid these common oversights and make certain you have thoroughly prepared your I-601a waiver application.
Avoiding I 601a Waiver Pitfalls
Applying for an I 601a Waiver is a fairly intricate procedure. It requires a comprehensive understanding of the documents required, including immigrant visa fee receipt, filing guidelines, the complicated eligibility requirements, and other essential measures. If you carelessly omit important files or fail to follow certain eligibility requirements, you might suffer a delay or immediate rejection of your I-601a waiver.
Therefore, hiring a skilled and knowledgeable immigration lawyer is often a vital step in the process. The right counselor can explain the process and lead you to successful completion.
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601a Waiver Requirements
To be entitled to an I-601a waiver, you must be physically within the United States to file your application and documentation. It’s also necessary to be physically present in order to supply your biometrics, including fingerprints, in order to find yourself in one I-601a eligibility category.
The Fundamental Elements of an Unlawful Presence Waiver
There are certain criteria for obtaining an unlawful presence waiver. You must be at least 17 years of age and have an immigrant visa case pending with DOS. Additional requirements of the applicant for the I-601a eligibility category may include the following:
- Has an approved form and has paid the visa processing fee
- Is the spouse or child of the lawful permanent resident relative who has an approved form and has paid the visa processing fee
- Has been chosen for the Diversity Visa (DV) Program
- Is the spouse or child of someone who has been chosen for the Diversity Visa (DV) Program
Additionally, you have to be able to prove that your denial would result in the hardship of your spouse or parent who is a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident. Besides the single period of unlawful U.S. presence, you have to have satisfied all other requirements for the provisional unlawful presence waiver.
Retaining USCIS, I 601a Counsel
To improve your chances of correctly filling out the USCIS I 601 a and obtaining an unlawful presence waiver, you should contact a reputable Georgia immigration attorney with experience in this type of case. He can advise you of your options and provide a thorough strategy to help you retain your legal immigration status.
An experienced attorney with an understanding of immigration law, deportation proceedings, and The Immigration and Nationality Act can help you find a possible solution to any complexities you encounter in the process.
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Additional 601a Facts
After completing the I-601a, you need to submit the waiver application, accompanying documents, and processing fee to USCIS. The current rates for the processing fee are $630 plus $85 for biometrics (fingerprinting) if you are under 79 years old.
Typical I 601a Processing Time
As Homeland Security makes it more difficult for immigrating individuals to take permanent residence in the U.S., the I 601a processing time has increased. Where it historically has been 2 to 5 months, as of 2019, the processing time is over eight months. Properly filling out and filing the paperwork the first time ensures that the process is expedited as possible. The counsel of a qualified attorney can assist.
Filling Out and Filing Form I-601a
It is necessary to follow the Form I-601a instructions to fully and correctly complete the application. Any application that doesn’t meet the filing criteria specified in 8 CFR 212.7(e)(5) or isn’t properly filed with the correct biometric fees will be automatically rejected. It is mandatory that Form I-601a is filed separately from any other application.
There is a checklist available on the last page of the form. Use it to verify that your application is complete before you file it.
I-601a Instructions and I-601a Supporting Documents
Along with the I-601a Instructions, it is wise to review your I-601a supporting documents before you complete and submit your application. Unless you are otherwise directed to do so, do not send original documents, and do not submit the I-601a Instructions or checklist with your application.
Depending on your particular case, some of the following are necessary I-601a supporting documents, and some may not.
- Copy of Department of Justice (DOJ) EOIR Administrative Closure Order
- Copy of Form I-797, Notice of Action, showing your Form I-212 was approved, Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission After Deportation or Removal
- DOS Immigrant Visa Processing Fee Receipt (for immediate family, family-sponsored, or employment-based immigrant visa applicants)
- Immigrant visa petition approval notice or DOS Electronic DV Entrant Status Check printout
- Proof of connection for a qualifying relative
- Proof of U.S. citizenship or legal permanent resident status of a qualifying relative
- Proof of entry or parole
- Proof of hardship
- Proof that the case deserves a favorable exercise of discretion
If any of the records are submitted in a foreign language, they must be accompanied by an English translation and a certificate confirming that the translation is accurate and complete.
Additional I 601a Instructions
In order to ensure your application is not rejected, follow these I 601a instructions:
Carefully complete the I-601a Application for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver. Visit the Form I-601A webpage for the most recent changes in filing instructions and fees, as well as any special instructions like the “Tips for Filing Forms with USCIS” to ensure your application package isn’t automatically rejected due to failure to follow directions. Don’t physically visit a USCIS field office; call (800) 375-5283 if you have any questions or consult a knowledgeable lawyer.
You can send your application to the USCIS Chicago Lockbox via U.S. Postal Service (USPS), FedEx, UPS, or DHL. To send through USPS, mail to USCIS P.O. Box 4599 at Chicago, IL 60680. When using FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries, send to USCIS, Attn: I-601A in 131 S. Dearborn, 3rd Floor in Chicago, IL 60603-5517.
When your I-601a application and fees are received, you will be sent an appointment notification to visit an ASC for biometrics.
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I-601a Waivers and More
Along with the I-601a Waiver, there are many complex forms you may need to complete and submit in the process of recognizing your dream of becoming a legal U.S. citizen. The right law firm has the knowledge and resources to assist you in filling out the I-765 application for employment authorization form and the I-485 for immigration status changes, as well as the I-601a.
601a Waiver Approved What’s Next
Many applicants wonder, once the 601a waiver is approved, what’s next? Even if your I-601a documents have been accepted, and perhaps you even got an I-601a approval notice, you still aren’t granted any additional benefits.
For example, having such a waiver doesn’t protect you from being deported. It doesn’t mean you can apply for work authorization or other interim benefits. It doesn’t guarantee an immigration visa or that you won’t be stopped by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, etc. A skilled attorney can clarify what your rights are and what they do not include.
I 601a Provisional Waiver Revisited.
Unfortunately, the decision and approval of an I-601a Provisional waiver can be reopened or reconsidered at any time. In fact, there are several ways in which the provisional unlawful presence waiver will be automatically revoked. These include:
- DOS ends the immigrant visa application process completely
- The U.S. Consulate or consular officer in the U.S. Embassy decides you’re ineligible for the visa
- USCIS revokes the inherently approved immigrant visa petition
- You illegally reenter or try to reenter the U.S. while your application is pending with USCIS
If your application is refused, you can still refile in the future, but you will have to pay the filing fee again, and it may be higher than it was when you first applied. This is just one reason that it is so important to complete the process correctly the first time. Contact an immigration lawyer who can help you navigate the complicated process and keep your family together in your new country.
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