Green Card Waivers
If you plan to immigrate permanently to the United States, you must be legallyadmissible for an immigrant visa or adjustment of status to legal permanentresident. In addition to having an approved immigrant petition or some other legal way to apply for permanent resident status, you must also be able to show that you are eligible for such status and that you do not have any prior immigration or criminal violation on your record that prevents you from immigrating.
Some crimes will make an applicant inadmissible for permanent immigration to the United States even if they would otherwise qualify for permanent resident status. Other issues that can prevent immigration to the United States include previous immigration violations such as overstaying a visa, prior unlawful presence in the United States, a previous deportation or finding of inadmissibility at the border, presenting false or fraudulent documents to an immigration officer, and/or falsely claiming to be a U.S. citizen. There are also health related grounds for inadmissibility as well as prior drug use. While some violations will create a permanent bar to immigration to the United States, many violations can be waived.
If you have ever been deported, denied a visa or denied entry to the United States you should consult an immigration attorney before trying to return either temporarily or permanently. If you have any history of the above issues, and believe you may require a waiver, our office can assist you with that process.
The first thing you will need to do is determine if you actually require a waiver for permanent immigration to the United States. Some issueswill not require a waiver depending on the type of immigrant petition you have available. On the other hand, some issues can create a lifetime bar to immigration and no waiver is available. Most issues will be waivable if you can show you are eligible for an exercise of favorable discretion by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office. You should always consult an experienced immigration attorney who routinely handles waivers before you begin your process. That way you will know whether you require a waiver and whether your issue is waivable before you spend time and resources on your immigration application.
If you do require a waiver, you should begin the process well in advance of your intended immigration interview. It often takes several weeks or even months to gather the documentation required for permanent waiver applications.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service officers have discretion in determining who will be recommended for a waiver. In some cases you will need to showthat a close relative will suffer extreme hardship if you are not permitted to immigrate to the United States. The type of waiver you require will determine which family member you may use
USCIS officers will consider several factors in determining whether to grant yourwaiver application. If you are showing extreme hardship to a qualifying relative, officers will review the following: your relatives’ family ties to the United States, lack of family ties to your home country, the country conditions of your home country, medical conditions of your relative, career and property ties to the United States and other factors that would indicate your relative is not able to leave the United States and relocate to your home country. You will also need to show that you are a person of good moral character.
There is a formal application process and the USCIS will charge you a fee for processing the application forms and reviewing your supporting documents. The fees change regularly so you should consult USCIS or our office for current fees.
Processing times for permanent resident waivers vary greatly depending on the consulate or USCIS office that has jurisdiction over your file.
If your waiver is granted and you are otherwise eligible for legal permanent residency status, you will be approved for legal permanent residency status and will not require any further waiver processing or renewals.
Waivers for temporary visitors to the United States have different requirements than waivers for those applying for legal permanent resident status in the United States. If you require information on waivers for temporary entry to the United States as a tourist, or on a work related visa, please see our information page relating to temporary visa waivers.