What is an immigration waiver? How does it help in green card applications?

badski007,  Pixabay

badski007, Pixabay

What is an Immigration Waiver?

An immigration waiver or Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility is an application made by a green card applicant who is otherwise inadmissible on one or more grounds. The application "forgives" the person's inadmissibility and is submitted to the consular office, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office or immigration court considering the applicant's green card or immigrant visa application.

What is Inadmissibility?

Individuals who are inadmissible are not permitted by law to enter or remain in the United States. This means that people who are inadmissible are not able to get a green card or immigrant visa unless they apply for a waiver. The most common categories of inadmissibility according to immigration law include health, criminal activity, national security, public charge, fraud and misrepresentation, prior deportation, and unlawful presence in the United States. In some special cases, no waiver is required to overcome the inadmissibility. Examples include exceptions for foreign nationals who have been battered, abused or subjected to extreme cruelty, who are victims of severe forms of trafficking, and who are minors. 

What is the form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility?

A green card applicant who is inadmissible must file form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility to seek a waiver. However, only the following persons may file this application:

  1. An applicant abroad who has had a visa interview with a consular officer and was found inadmissible. 
  2. Any applicant for adjustment of status
  3. K-1, Fiancé(e) or K-2, Children nonimmigrant visa applicant 
  4. K-3, Alien Spouse or K-4 nonimmigrant visa applicant 
  5. V nonimmigrant visa applicant 
  6. Temporary Protected Status (TPS) applicant 
  7. Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA) applicant
  8. Haitian Refugee Immigrant Fairness Act (HRIFA) applicant 
  9. Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) self-petitioner 
  10. T nonimmigrant visa holder filing for adjustment of status who is inadmissible by reason of a ground that has not already been waived in connection with the T nonimmigrant status 

What grounds of inadmissibility are covered under this application?

The following grounds of inadmissibility may be waived by the I-601 application:

  1. Health-related grounds: Those who have a communicable disease of public health significance, those who have failed to receive necessary vaccinations against vaccine-preventable diseases, persons with physical or mental disorders with associated harmful behavior, and those who are drug abusers or drug addicts are inadmissible due to health grounds. 
  2. Certain criminal grounds: Persons convicted of certain crimes including crimes involving "moral turpitude" (CIMT), controlled substance violations, multiple criminal convictions, drug trafficking, prostitution, commercialized vice,  serious crimes, violations of religious freedom,  human trafficking, money laundering, and any person convicted of two or more crimes if the person was sentenced to five or more total years in prison.
  3. Immigrant Membership in the Totalitarian Party: Members of or those affiliated with the Communist or any other totalitarian party are inadmissible. The waiver may be granted for humanitarian purposes, to assure family unity, or if you are not a threat to the security of the United States. 
  4. Immigration fraud or misrepresentation, excluding false claims to U.S. citizens: Any person who seeks admission to the United States, a visa or other immigration travel or entry document, or any immigration benefit by fraud or willfully misrepresenting a material fact is inadmissible.  The applicant must show extreme hardship to a U.S. Citizen or green card holder spouse or parent.
  5. Smugglers and being subject of civil penalty:  Persons engaged in alien smuggling are inadmissible. Immigration may only grant this waiver if the person assisted or aided was your spouse, parent, son, or daughter (and no other individual). 
  6. The 3-year or 10-year bar for being unlawfully present in the United States: If you are inadmissible because you were previously unlawfully present in the United States either for longer than 180 days, but less than 1 year (resulting in a 3-year bar), or 1 year or more (resulting in a 10-year bar), you may seek a waiver. You must establish that your qualifying U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident relative (spouse or parent) or K visa petitioner would experience extreme hardship if you were denied entry into the United States. 
  7. Certain grounds of inadmissibility, if filed by an applicant for TPS: If you are a Temporary Protected Status (TPS) applicant applying for a waiver, you must establish that the approval of your waiver is warranted for humanitarian purposes, to assure family unity or is otherwise in the public interest. 
  8. Aliens previously removed and unlawfully present after previous immigration violations, if filed by a NACARA or HRIFA adjustment applicant: In reviewing waiver applications from these applicants, immigration will look at several factors including length of time (lawfully or unlawfully) in the United States, criminal and immigration history, family and community ties, hardship to relatives in the U.S. if you were deported, employment history, good moral character and other relevant factors.  

The waiver process could be lengthy and complicated. If you are applying for a green card and believe that you are inadmissible, please contact us. We are here to help. Follow us on InstagramTwitterFacebookLinkedIn or Tumblr for up-to-date immigration news.


Rasoulpour Torregoza is the law firm for immigrants, by immigrants. We are founded on the motto of LegalEase: we do away with the legal jargon and make law easy to understand, so you can focus on what’s important to you – going for your American Dream.
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