Immigration Waivers & Grounds of Inadmissibility

Certain grounds of inadmissibility can prevent foreign nationals from entering or legally staying in the U.S. Learn more from Michael G. Murray, P.A.


What Are Immigration Waivers?


U.S. immigration law states that some individuals wanting to enter or stay can be designated “inadmissible.” That means they can’t travel to the United States for any reason. However, being found inadmissible to the U.S. doesn’t necessarily mean your hopes and dreams for a U.S. visa or green card are ruined. Many grounds of inadmissibility allow applicants to apply for a waiver.

The waiver can be considered a sort of forgiveness by the U.S. government. But, legal requirements for every type of waiver are different, so determining if you qualify for a particular waiver can be complicated.

The team at Michael G. Murray, P.A., can help individuals with all types of immigration waivers and help them throughout the entire procedure.


Grounds of Inadmissibility


According to U.S. immigration laws, there are many grounds for inadmissibility. In other words, these are reasons why someone could be considered inadmissible. Some of these reasons include the following:

  • Criminal and related grounds
  • Health-related grounds
  • Fraud or misrepresentation
  • Unlawful presence

The United States government must ensure that new immigrants don’t pose any threats to public health and safety. For example, immigrants with communicable diseases or mental or physical disorders with associated harmful behavior can be designated inadmissible.


212(h) Waiver for Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude


A noncitizen in the U.S. that has committed a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude (CIMT) may be inadmissible to the U.S. Once it has been determined that a CIMT has been committed for which no exception applies, the other option is to determine if the applicant qualifies for a waiver under Section 212(h) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

212(h) waivers are granted where either:

  1. act being waived occurred over 15 years ago; the admission would not be contrary to the safety or security of the U.S., and the immigrant has been rehabilitated or
  2. it is established that extreme hardship would result in the immigrant’s U.S. citizen or lawful resident spouse, parent, son, or daughter if the immigrant was not permitted to enter the U.S. or adjust status.

Another context where the 212(h) waiver is useful is when a person has been convicted of a single offense of possession of marijuana under 30 grams.

If you believe CIMT may be applicable in your case or you have been convicted of a single offense of possession of marijuana under 30 grams and you are considering applying for a visa, returning to the U.S. after foreign travel, or applying for a benefit such as adjustment or naturalization, it is advisable to consult with an experienced Austin immigration lawyer or Texas immigration lawyer beforehand.


Fraud Waivers


You may if you, by fraud or willful misrepresentation of a material fact, have sought to procure, or have procured a visa, other documentation, or admission into the US or other benefit under US immigration laws. You may have omitted certain information on a previous application for a visa or a green card. You may have failed to reveal that you were married. The possibilities are endless.

Fraud is a lifetime bar to remaining in the US. If you believe you may be charged with committing fraud on an immigration application, be sure to consult with an Austin immigration lawyer or a Texas immigration lawyer.


Unlawful Presence Waivers – no more getting stuck abroad after filing your waiver


Immigrants who entered without inspection or overstayed a visa may waive their inadmissibility, i.e. the 3/10 year bar, by filing Form I-601A “Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver.” The law, which became effective March 4, 2013, allows applicants to file the waiver stateside, thus avoiding the risk of getting stuck in their home country while waiting for a decision on the waiver application.

Effective August 29, 2016, the unlawful presence waiver Form I-601A was expanded to benefit a wider range of immigrants with unlawful presence.


Who can file for provisional waivers after August 29, 2016?


Applicants for immigrant visas based on family, employment, investment, or diversity visa petition approvals may file for provisional waivers after August 29, 2016, provided they also have “qualifying relatives.” This means both “immediate relatives” (parents, spouses, and unmarried children under 21 of US citizens) AND family preference applicants (spouses and married or unmarried children over or under 21 of US citizens, permanent residents, and siblings of US citizens) may file for provisional waivers.  Minors who are applicants for immigrant visas but are under 17 are not eligible for provisional waivers (and are usually not subject to the unlawful presence bar anyway).

Since USCIS has now made the provisional waiver available to anyone who qualifies by statute, beginning August 29, 2016 applicants may also include beneficiaries of employment-based petitions, self-petitioners, investors, special immigrant petitions (I-140, I-360, I-526), and diversity visa applicants who would otherwise be ineligible for adjustment of status due to unlawful status and presence, and who must consular process immigrant visa applications.


Who are qualifying relatives (QRs)?


In addition to being an immigrant visa applicant, by statute to get a waiver of the unlawful presence bar, the applicant must also have one or more “qualifying relatives” (QR). QRs include US citizen and permanent resident spouses and parents of the applicant, NOT the children of the immigrant visa applicant.

Prior to August 29, 2016, immediate relatives could file for provisional waivers only if they had US citizen QRs, not permanent resident QRs. Only Congress can change the definition of QR. Therefore, the provisional waiver regulations have not changed the meaning of QR, but for procedural purposes will now include both US citizen AND permanent resident QRs. Essentially, as of August 29, 2016, anyone who by statute is eligible for an unlawful presence waiver can file for a provisional waiver.


What about people in removal proceedings or with final orders of removal?


Prior to the August 29, 2016 rule going into effect, individuals in removal proceedings or with final orders of removal, exclusion, or deportation, or orders in absentia, or other similar orders were not eligible for provisional I-601A waivers. Beginning August 29, 2016, some individuals in removal proceedings may also pursue provisional waivers. The waiver application is filed with USCIS, not with the court. However, applicants will need to have their removal proceedings terminated or administratively closed (and not re-calendared) prior to filing the waiver application.

Individuals who already have removal, exclusion, or deportation orders will need to first file and have a conditionally approved (Form I-212) Application For Permission to Reapply for Admission to the United States After Deportation BEFORE leaving the USA and before they can file an I-601A family unity provisional waiver assuming there are no other grounds of inadmissibility.

Of course, anyone with a history of encounters with CBP, ICE, or the Immigration Courts should seek advice from an experienced immigration attorney because these cases can be very complex.


How Can an Immigration Attorney Help?


Being classified as inadmissible can be hard and hinder your future plans. Whether you are unsure which ground of inadmissibility applies to you or which waiver you would apply, discussing your situation with an experienced immigration attorney can be beneficial.

They can tell you your options and recommend which type of immigration waiver you should pursue. The experienced immigration team at Michael G. Murray, P.A. would be happy to help.

Need help from an immigration lawyer in Austin?


Coronavirus update: We are safely open for business! USCIS is still accepting new filings for all applications. Our office is offering virtual consultations for new clients so that you don't have to come to our office in person. Call us to schedule your virtual meeting today.
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