How To File I-212 and I-601 Together For Spouse

Being physically separated from your spouse with a border between you isn’t what you had planned for your life, right? Well, that is the case for many couples who are required to file I-212 and I-601 before they can reunite.

I’ve helped a few couples who are in this exact situation. What triggers this type of case is when one spouse is undocumented and has entered the U.S. without legal authorization resulting in unlawful presence time accruing.

I’m not going to lie, this is a very difficult case to successfully file I-212 and I-601 but it certainly can be done.

Case Example:

Emily met and married Javier form El Salvador in 2017. They quickly filed form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative so he could get a green card and begin working legally in the United States. Javier came to the U.S. at the age of 19 by illegally crossing the border 2012 but was caught and deported.

He then successfully crossed the US-Mexico border again in 2013 and stayed to begin his life in America. Emily and Javier were not aware of the difficulty that lie ahead for them due to this unlawful presence. At his interview in El Salvador, he was denied the CR1 visa and was told to file waivers I-212 and I-601.

What Is Form I-212 and Who Needs to File?

Waiver form I-212 is used by immigrants who have been found inadmissible due to previous deportation or entry without inspection. Think of it as a way to ask USCIS for forgiveness for your past illegal entry (or multiple illegal entries).

There is no guarantee that form I-212 will be approved but it won’t hurt to apply anyway. Except for your pocket book!

The total cost of waiver I-212 is $930 which isn’t chump change by any means. Most people are looking to bring their deported spouse back to the United States are not concerned about the fees and would do anything to have their loved one back!

Form I-212 is an eleven page form that asks questions about your immigration history and previous entries. Other personal information will be required as well.

Who Needs To File I-212?

  • You were removed (deported) from the U.S.; or
  • You left the U.S. voluntarily after being misused a removal order, and
  • You are looking to enter the U.S. to adjust your status before you have served:
    • 5 year bar: if you were removed as an arriving alien, but only once;
    • 10 year : if you were removed other than as an arriving alien, but only once; or
    • 20 years, if you were removed more than once, whether as an arriving alien or not

When USCIS reviews your case, they will make a decision based on positive and negative factors that are present. Obviously, you want to have more good things going for you than bad, right?

Positive Factors in I-212 approval:

  • Reason for your deportation
  • How long ago you were deported
  • How long you were a resident of the U.S. and your current immigration status
  • Family responsibilities and ties to the U.S.
  • Evidence of good moral character
  • Respect for law and order (absence of criminal record)
  • Evidence of rehabilitation (if you committed a crime)
  • Hardship involving yourself or American family members
  • Need for medical services in the U.S.
  • If you have an approved immigrant or non-immigrant visa petition
  • Eligibility for a waiver of other inadmissibility grounds
  • Absence of other negative factors

Negative factors for I-212 approval:

  • Evidence of moral depravity, including criminal tendencies shown by an ongoing unlawful activity or continuing police record
  • Repeated violations of  immigration laws, willful disregard of other laws
  • Likelihood of becoming a public charge
  • Poor physical or mental condition (however, a need for treatment in the United States for the condition would be a favorable factor)
  • No close family ties or hardships
  • Fake marriage to a U.S. citizen for purpose of gaining an immigration benefit
  • Unauthorized employment in the United States
  • Lack of skill where labor certification could  be issued
  • Serious violation of immigration laws
  • Having other grounds of inadmissibility into the U.S.

What Is Form I-601 and Who Needs to File?

Anyone who has stayed in the U.S. without authorization (illegally) for more than 6 months will likely be required to file I-601 waiver before their green card application can be processed and approved.

The I-601 waiver is intended for those of you who are already outside the U.S. and need your overstay to be forgiven. Think of it as asking for permission after you have already violated U.S. immigration law. There is no guarantee that this waiver will be approved and it’s completely based on whether you can prove to USCIS that you deserve a second chance.

What you need to include with the I-601 waiver:

  • Proof of your relationship to U.S. citizen relative
  • Evidence of extreme hardship to your U.S. citizen relative (spouse, parent)

What does extreme hardship really mean?

  • Health – You suffer from a physical or mental condition that you need continual treatment for in the U.S.
  • Financial – Negative impact on future employment and financial losses if the waiver of inadmissibility is not approved.
  • Personal  – Hardships that your close U.S. relatives will suffer if the I-601 waiver of inadmissibility is not approved.
  • Education – Unable to continue with your education goals and the impact it would have on your earnings.
  • Special Factors – Cultural, language, religious, and ethnic issues.

When you will NOT be eligible for the I-601 waiver:

  • You are subject to a permanent bar.
  • Unlawful presence of more than 1 year (after 1997) followed by departure and then unlawful re-entry.**
  • Removal or deportation from the U.S. followed a second unlawful entry or attempt.**

**NOTE: After serving 10 years outside of the U.S. you will be eligible to file the I-601 waiver again.

Steps to take if your I-601 waiver is denied.


How to File I-212 and I-601 Together

If you have already submitted your green card application based on your marriage to a U.S. citizen, it’s now time to submit waiver I-212 and I-601. The process isn’t as complicated and scary as you may think. I’ll walk you through the steps below so you are comfortable with the process.

Learn more about how to file for the I-212.

Step 1: File your initial immigrant visa petition.

The first step in the process is to apply for an immigrant visa such as a spouse visa. If you have a qualifying marriage to a U.S. citizen then you are able to get a green card based on your valid marriage. The I-130 petition will be adjudicated and approved without the waiver but you will not be able to pass the interview stage without the waivers.

Step 2: Complete and file I-212 and I-601 waivers.

The next step of the process is to submit I-212 and I-601 waivers together to USCIS. While your initial petition is pending, USCIS will process the waivers and determine whether you qualify for your unlawful presence and entry to be forgiven. This can take about 6 months to complete while you wait outside the U.S.

Remember, if you have a permanent bar or have entered the U.S. illegally more than once, you must wait 10 years outside the United States before being eligible to file I-212 waiver.

Step 3: Attend your immigrant visa interview abroad.

Finally, after the I-212 and I-601 waivers have been approved, it’s time to attend your interview. You will be notified that an interview has been scheduled once USCIS has approved your waivers. This can take a few months to process so be patient.

During the interview, you will be asked about your unlawful presence time in the U.S. and your entries without inspection. You should be truthful about it and remember that with an approved waiver, it’s unlikely you will be denied the visa due to this. But, there is a chance that you may be inadmissible for other reasons.

Read about what to do if your visa is denied after I-601 waiver approval.

Final Thoughts On How To File I-212 and I-601 Together

Being physically separated from your family across two different countries is stressful enough, but having to deal with immigration issues makes it 10 times worse. If you are in this situation, I just want to say that I’m sorry and don’t give up hope! You will be with your family in the U.S. again soon.

USCIS doesn’t look too kindly on anyone who enters the U.S. illegally multiple times. It shows that you don’t care about our immigration laws which is why it’s so difficult to re-enter legally. It’s not impossible though so if you take the right steps now, you can get both the I-212 and I-601 waivers approved.

There are only a limited number of cases that will not be approved for the I-212 and I-601 on the basis of not being eligible to apply at all. This doesn’t mean it’s easy to get approved, you still must prove that you qualify based on your family ties to the U.S. and have solid extreme hardship evidence.

If you need specific help with filing I-212 and I-601 together, consider signing up for premium case support. 

Premium case support includes 1-on-1 phone consultation, continuous email support, document review and interview preparation.

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