I-212 waiver

Are You Required To File I-212 Waiver After Deportation or Removal?

Although deportations were happening under Obama, the Trump administration has made it their number one priority. Many immigrants that enter the U.S. without permission and later are deported don’t know or understand their immigration options. After someone is deported, they’ll need to request permission from USCIS to apply for a visa or green card. So, this post will show you when you need to file the I-212 waiver after deportation or removal.

Every time I post something on social media teaching undocumented immigrants how to gain legal status, there’s at least one American that’s outraged. You know what? Undocumented immigrants have families here. They have hopes and dreams of starting a life in a land of opportunity. Sure, they broke immigration rules by entering the country without permission, but do you know how difficult legal immigration is?

I’d compare legal US immigration to “American Ninja Warrior“. Okay, let me explain further. The legal immigration process has so many steps, forms, evidence, fees and hoops to jump through. It’s completely terrifying and unnecessarily confusing and difficult.

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When Do I Need To File I-212 Waiver?

The I-212 waiver is needed when you are found inadmissible under section 212(a)(9)(A) or (C). This just means that you need to ask for permission to reapply to enter the United States.

So why not just reenter the US without applying for this waiver? First, you would likely be deported. Second, you could receive a permanent bar from entering the U.S.. If your goal is to live in America, it’s best to go the legal route.

Case Example:

Pablo entered the US without inspection in 2002. He met his American wife and had 2 children 10 years later. He worked full time in construction, paid his taxes and went to his local church every Sunday with his family. One day after a traffic stop,police arrested him for driving with a license and notified ICE of his lack of legal status in the US. Pablo couldn’t afford a lawyer and didn’t win his battle with immigration court resulting in his deportation.

In the example above, Pablo will not be able to re-enter the U.S. without first filing the I-212 waiver. The waiver needs to be approved before a visa or green card application can be submitted.

The 5 Year Bar

  • You were put into expedited removal proceedings (without seeing an Immigration Judge) at the border, near the border, or at a seaport or airport.
  • You were a lawful permanent resident with a criminal conviction and were put in removal proceedings when you returned from a trip abroad.

The 10 Year Bar

  • You were ordered removed by an Immigration Judge
  • You left the U.S. on your own while you were in immigration court proceedings
  • You left the U.S. after the Immigration Judge ordered you removed (without you attending a hearing)

The 20 Year Bar

  • You have been removed from the U.S. more than once

The Permanent Bar

  • You were removed from the U.S. because you were convicted of an aggravated felony
  • You were deported and then re-entered or tried to re-enter the U.S. without permission
  • You re-entered or tried to re-enter the U. S. after previously having been in the U.S. unlawfully for a total of more than 1 year

How To File The I-212 Waiver

If you know that you need to file this waiver, I’d recommend speaking with an immigration attorney first. It’s not as easy as just filling out paperwork because you need to also know your immigration background. USCIS, ICE and CBP have records of all your run-ins with these agencies and will use it against you.

However, with the help of an experienced lawyer you can request these records using FOIA (freedom of information act).

Learn more about how to file form I-212 and the evidence needed for hardship.

Step 1: Fill out form I-212

The first thing you need to do is to download form I-212 and begin filling it out. You can either print it out to complete it or you can type the information directly on your computer. The 6 page form has three parts to it:

Part 1: Information About You – This section of the form asks for basic information such as your name, date of birth, address and place of birth. You’ll need to include your A# or any other file number that is written on letters you received from USCIS.

Part 2: Reason For Filing This Form – This part of the form wants to know why you were removed or left the US, the number of times you were removed and the date you last left the US.

Part 3: Information About Your Removal/Deportation or Departure – This section is where you provide detailed information about your presence and departure. You will be asked when you left the US, how many years you stayed illegally and the circumstances of the removal proceedings.

Step 2: Gather and submitting documentation

Before you submit the I-212, you will need to gather supporting evidence to back up your case. I’ve included a list of documents that can be submitted with your waiver:

  • Birth and marriage certificates.
  • Proof of US relative’s citizenship (birth certificate, naturalization certificate or passport)
  • Proof  of US lawful permanent resident’s status (copy of green card, alien number, date and place of admission to the US)
  • Letter explaining why your application should be approved

Step 3: File form I-601, Application for Waiver of Inadmissibility

If you were deported and are now wanting to file for a green card through family-based visa petition, you will also need to file the I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility.

This might be confusing because you are already filing for a waiver, but I-212 only allows you to file for the visa. If there are any other reasons you can be found inadmissible, you should also file I-601 to overcome these negative factors.

Step 4: Pay the filing fee

As with most USCIS applications, there is a non-refundable filing fee for the I-212 waiver. As of 2017, this fee is $980.00. This payment must be in the form of a check drawn from a US bank and issued to the Department of Homeland Security.

If you live outside the US and don’t have access to a US based bank, contact a US embassy or consulate for payment instructions.

Step 5: Submit the application to USCIS

Where to send the completed I-212 will depend on why you are inadmissible and where you are filing from. Below is a list of agencies that accept the I-212 waiver based on the circumstances of your case.

  • Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
  • U.S. Department of State (DOS)
  • Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR)
  • United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

Click here to find out exactly where you need to send the waiver application.

How Long Will The I-212 Take To Process?

Based on USCIS processing times, 94% of I-212 applications are completed within 6 months of filing. There can be delays based on background checks and whether you submitted all the evidence required.

After the I-212 (and I-601 if filed) is approved, the US consulate will either send you instructions or you may need to contact them to find out the next steps. More than likely you will be asked to attend an interview but some consulates will not schedule the appointment for you. This is why it’s best to call them to find out what to do.

Final Thoughts On The I-212 Waiver

Being removed from the United States doesn’t necessarily mean you will never be able to live in this country. If you have a US citizen or LPR relative that will face extreme hardship in your absence, you can make a good case for getting the waiver approved.

There are many families that are fighting deportation of one or both parents today who are unaware of their options. If you have been removed from the U.S. and want to come back, consult an immigration attorney before filing the I-212. You’ll want to submit this waiver correctly the first time to avoid further delays and denial of your application.

Were you ordered removed from the U.S.? Will you be filing the I-212 waiver? If so, let me know in the comments below.


  1. Mario

    My wife was removed from the airport 3 years ago. She had the interview in the embassy and was denied her visa (which we were expecting to happend) . At the interview they gave her the option to apply for a waiver (i-212) . Reason for removal was based on a trip she made to the US and worked a few days (2-3 days) .. i am the petitioner (US citizen) .. and we have a son.. how long does the process take and what are the chances of the waiver to get approved?

    Thank you

  2. Hi Mario,

    Sorry to hear about your wife’s removal and denial at the embassy. If you’ve already submitted the I-212 form then it will likely take 3-6 months to process. Did you complete this form on your own? Did you hire an attorney? The reason I ask is because you need to be sure it’s been done correctly. Your odds of approval will be based on the evidence you submit along with the I-212.

  3. carlos

    Wife had border pass b1/b2 and I am a resident, but never submitted a petition I-130. She was deported and penalized for 5 years. Do I have to file an I-130 first and then I-212 plus I-601? Help from any one.

  4. Hi Carlos,

    Since your wife has a 5 year bar to entry she will need to file for the I-212 waiver and I-601 waiver. She can submit both waivers after you file the I-130 petition for her. It will be a very lengthy process though that can take well over a year so don’t delay. If you need help with the waiver processing and how to submit a strong case for your wife, please consider signing up for premium case support. https://mypathtocitizenship.com/premium-visa-green-card-support/

  5. Miranda

    My husband was subject to a permanent bar after coming and leaving the US three times without inspection (he was going to visit his children from his ex-wife every five years). We applied for permanent residency starting five years ago. We filed a I-601a with an attorney and it was approved. However, when we went to his consulate appointment, they denied his residency and said he has to wait 10 years to file the I-212. I went back and explained that his I-601a was approved and they told us that it only waives the first time he was in the US unlawfully. My attorney said there might be a waiver that he can file; however, I have not been able to find any information consistent with this, as everything says he has to wait 10 years before trying to apply again. He has been in Mexico since the beginning of the year and my children and I are suffering. I should have finished NP school this semester; however, I had to drop since I didn’t have consistent childcare for my children. I would like him to be able to return; however, since it seems hopeless, we are trying for permanent residency in Canada.

  6. Fabiana

    Hi Ayan,
    My “now” husband was deported (expedited removal) last year because he returned to US after 2 months of leaving, which they considered “too soon.” He received the 5-year ban. I moved to his country for 10 months and we married. I am back in the US (I am USC). I am now filing the I-130. We know he will be denied at his Visa interview. Since he never overstayed his Visa, I am assuming he does not need to file a I-601, correct, only the I-212? Why doesn’t USCIS allow to file the I-212 first and then the I-130. Doesn’t make any sense.

  7. Hi Miranda,

    I’m sorry to hear about your difficulties! Being separated from family members is very difficult and stressful. The problem with multiple entries without inspection is that it can trigger a 10, 20 or permanent bar. Unfortunately, he will need to wait the 10 years before filing I-212. I’ve had another client in the same situation where his wife entered the country illegally twice, the first time was forgiven but the second triggered the 10 year bar. Please consult with your attorney before making any decisions. Don’t give up! Continue to fight for your husband to live in the US. I’ll keep you both in my thoughts.

  8. Hi Fabiana,

    Did your husband enter the US without inspection more than once? The I-601 will be required for his first illegal entry but if he entered again after leaving or being deported, it’s likely he will need to wait 5 years before being allowed to enter regardless of filing the I-212.

  9. atta j

    I was deported from the US 3 months ago for abusing my student’s visa..i have no criminal record.My wife is a US citizen.i was given the 10 year ban..How long do i have to wait to apply for a waiver.Thanks

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