How To Fill Out I-601A Provisional Waiver For Unlawful Presence Part 1
A green card is a symbol of legal status in America. Not everyone who lives in the United States is here lawfully and this can be seen today with all the talk about deportations. Living in this country without permission can often get you in trouble when it’s time to apply for a green card.
For those who have racked up unlawful presence time, there’s a waiver called form I-601A waiver which allows the unlawful time to be forgiven. This form asks USCIS to forgive the time you didn’t have permission to stay in the U.S.. Another perk of the I-601A provisional waiver is that you can stay in the U.S. while it’s being processed.
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So, why does the U.S. have such an issue with illegal immigration?
The allure of America isn’t the location, weather or the people (sorry). It’s the opportunity that American offers. If you were born in the first world, it’s hard to really understand what I mean by this. For immigrants that were born in the third world, all they hear about is the incredible life Americans live. They truly believe it’s the ticket to paradise.
Yes, the living standard in the U.S. is far higher than most of the world so you can’t blame the desperation of immigrants to get here. I see illegal immigration as a drive to improve someone’s life circumstances. This seems completely natural to me even though USCIS sees crossing the border as an immigration crime.
Who Is Eligible To File The I-601A Provisional Waiver?
The I-601A waiver is only used for specific circumstances which limits the number of people who can benefit from it.
- You must currently live in the U.S.
- You must be at least 17 years of age
- Must have a immigrant visa case pending with Department of State
- You have unlawful presence in the US for more than 6 months
Who Is NOT Eligible To File The I-601A Provisional Waiver?
- You don’t meet the requirements for those who are eligible
- You have an I-485 pending with USCIS
- You are in removal proceedings unless it’s administratively closed
- Deportation has been issued against you
- Fail to prove that a U.S. citizen qualifying relative would experience extreme hardship
Carlos entered the United States without inspection (illegally) at 10 years old with his family. He was unaware of his immigration status and was able to go to school in Texas. When he tried to find work, he came to realize that he didn’t have a social security number like his friends. Feeling stuck he begins working under the table for less than minimum wage so he can help support his siblings.
Carlos meets Jessica (a U.S. citizen) in college and they decide to get married a few years later. Now that they are married, they think that getting Carlos a green card will be a simple process. But, since he has accrued unlawful presence since the age of 18, Carlos is found inadmissible. His only options is to file for the I-601A provisional waiver to request USCIS to forgive his unlawful presence time.
In the case above, Carlos is only responsibility for unlawful presence while he was an adult. A child that is smuggled into the U.S. will not be at fault for the time they spend in the U.S. without legal status.
What To Include With The I-601A Waiver Application
- Form I-601A [download]
- This is the waiver forms that needs to be filled out and signed.
- Receipt of payment
- You must pay the immigrant visa processing fee. Send this to the Department of States (DOS) after your visa petition is approved but before you are scheduled for the consular interview. Place the receipt on top of Form I-601A.
- Application fee
- Application fee is $585 for 2017.
- Biometrics fee
- If younger than age 79, your required to pay the biometrics (fingerprinting) fee of $85.
- Proof of approved family-based visa petition
- Send a copy of form I-797 approval notice from USCIS. Double check that it shows you as the immediate relative of a U.S. citizen.
- Proof of the U.S. citizen status
- Your qualifying relative must include proof of citizenship. Include a copy of his or her birth certificate, passport, or naturalization certificate.
- Proof of relationship to your qualifying relative
- If U.S. citizen is the spouse, include marriage certificate. If either of you were previously divorced, include divorce or death certificates to prove that the past marriage has ended.
- Evidence of extreme hardship
- You must show that your qualifying relative would suffer extreme hardship if your unlawful presence wasn’t forgiven. If, for example, your U.S. citizen has a medical condition that requires your full-time care, you can provide a doctor’s letter and copies of test results.
- Extreme hardship can relate to health, educational, financial, personal, and any other relevant considerations.
Where To Send The I-601 Waiver Application
U.S. Postal Service
P.O. Box 4599
Chicago, IL 60680
For FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries:
131 S. Dearborn, 3rd Floor
Chicago, IL 60603-5517
Are You Required To Attend A Waiver Interview?
Fortunately, it is very unlikely that USCIS will require that you attend an interview before they make a decision on your waiver. Count your blessings because immigration interviews are not something many of us look forward to. How the heck would you even prepare for it? I can just imagine how the interview would go…
- USCIS: Why did you enter and stay in the US illegally?
- You: I was going to school and wanted to finish.
- USCIS: Did you know you were committing an immigration offense?
- You: No, I wasn’t aware of it at the time. I didn’t mean to break any laws.
- USCIS: Well, you did.
- You: I’m sorry. I just want a chance to do things right.
- USCIS: Did you married an American for ?
- You: No, we just fell in love.
- USCIS: We don’t accept that as bona fide.
Luckily, you won’t have to sit through an interview like that. Once USCIS processes the I-601A, you will be required to attend a visa interview in your home country’s US consulate.
How To Fill Out Form I-601A Provisional Waiver
Part 1: Information About You
1. Enter your alien registration number (A number). This is the number you will see on all the letters that USCIS sends you called “notice of action” I-797.
2. If you were ever given a valid Social Security Number by the Social Security Administration (SSA), enter it here. If you have been using a fake or fraudulent SSN that was not assigned by SSA, do not enter it. Leave the space blank instead.
3. Enter your USCIS online account number. This account number is given when you register on USCIS.gov website to pay the immigration visa fees. https://www.uscis.gov/news/alerts/new-immigrants-can-now-create-uscis-online-account-when-paying-uscis-immigrant-fee
4. Enter your full legal name and make sure that it is consistent with your pending application with USCIS.
5, 6: Enter any previous names you have used such as a maiden name if you changed it after marriage,
7, 8, 9: Provide your mailing address and if your physical address is different, include both of them.
10: Select your sex/gender.
11. Enter your date of birth.
Part 1: Information About You (page 2)
12. Enter the city or town where you were born.
13. Pick the country where you were born.
14. Pick the country whose passport you currently is issued to you. Your country of birth may not necessarily be the same as the country of citizenship or naturalization. This country will be the one you will return to for your interview.
15, 16: Enter the full names of your mother and father. If you don’t know the name of your biological father, you may enter your stepfather or enter N/A for not applicable.
17. If you came on a visa and were inspected by an immigration officer at an airport or land crossing, write down the date of your last entry. You can find this date mentioned on your I-94 card and also the stamp in your passport. If you crossed the border illegally, you can write down “EWI”, which means entry without inspection since you were not inspected by a CBP officer.
18. Enter the port of entry. This is the location where you were inspected by CBP (either the city of the airport or the city where you were allowed entry by land). If you crossed illegally, then write the approximate location or city that you think you may have crossed into.
19. Enter your immigration status when you entered the US. This could be a student visa, work visa, visitor visa or if you arrived illegally, then write down EWI. Try your best to write the actual class of visa (ie. F1, B1, H1b).
20 to 26: If you have ever been in the US before, you must list all those entries and exits. Try not to forget any entry in the US because the USCIS will have your immigration records and if you miss something, it will count as lying.
27 to 28: If you are currently in removal proceedings, or being deported, then you should not be completing this application yourself. I highly recommend finding an experienced immigration attorney to help you understand your options. Otherwise, check No.
Part 1: Information About You (page 3)
28 to 31: Read this section very carefully. Again, if you are in removal proceedings or have been deported you should really seek the help of an experienced immigration attorney. If the answer to these questions is Yes, you’ll need to file for I-212 Permission to Reapply for Admission before you can file for I-601A waiver. If you are not in removal proceedings or deportation check No.
32 to 38: Read these questions carefully as they ask if you have EVER done any of the them. Even if it was forgiven, expunged, resolved, you must answer truthfully. Normally, your answer should be No to all of these questions. If you cannot answer No to these questions, don’t try to file this waiver yourself. Seek the help of an experienced immigration attorney who is familiar with the I-601A waiver.
If you entered the country with false papers like a passport or visa or tried to help a family member enter the U.S. illegally by providing them with fake papers, you should still not file this waiver yourself. I completely understand that attorneys are expensive but immigration is something you don’t want make mistakes with. It can mean long term family separation and heartache. Just because you were not caught or charged with a crime, doesn’t mean that the Government doesn’t know about it.
Ayan is the founder of the Migrant Academy community, the My Path To Citizenship Blog and Podcast.
After successfully navigating the hurdles of US immigration. She now dedicates her time to helping other couples achieve their goals of starting their new life together in the US.