Updated April 2019
What is an I-601A waiver (Provisional Waiver)?
The I-601A, Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver, is a waiver that was introduced in 2013 under the Obama Administration. This waiver allows certain individuals, who entered the United States unlawfully, to be able to pursue residency while maintaining family unity, granted they meet the criteria of extreme hardship and have a qualifying relative. While this program still requires that individual to leave temporarily abroad for their consular interview and immigrant visa, as opposed to the waivers that preceded, the time a family spends apart is significantly reduced and, in many cases, is the only available option for legal permanent residency. This program has proven to be successful, and while the concept of leaving the United States may be frightening, it is not to be feared if you have an experienced attorney by your side.
At the Powers Law Group P.C., we pride ourselves in successfully guiding our clients through the consular processing and I-601A waivers process. In recent months, we have seen an increase in the processing times for I-601A waivers – from 4 months to about 7 months.
On August 29, 2016, an expansion of eligibility for such waivers began to be implemented to applicants including allowing Legal Permanent Residents to be eligible as Qualifying Relatives and allowing other visa categories, not just immediate relatives, to participate, among some other provisions. Furthermore, in December 2016, a clarification of the extreme hardship standard was made which makes the process easier and clearer for adjudicators, clients and attorneys to meet and/or understand.
What does an I-601A waiver require?
In short, the expanded I-601A waiver requires that you have a Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) or United States Citizen (USC) parent or spouse – whom is considered your qualifying relative- that can show extreme hardship whether it be financially, emotionally, medically, and/or mentally, as a direct result from your absence (separation) OR extreme hardship in the event of the qualifying relative’s relocation to your country. Children (whether it be adult or minor) do not qualify to be qualifying relatives; with that said, to meet the extreme hardship standard, affidavits from you and your qualifying relative are suggested along with supporting documentation of the facts and events stated on your affidavits. This type of waiver is not appealable; however, could be re-filed in the event of a denial. It is important you schedule a consultation with an immigration attorney with experience in waivers to determine whether you or your loved one qualifies for this type of waiver.
What is the time expectancy or processing time of an I-601A waiver?
Overall, the entire I-601A provisional waiver process, in the case of an immediate relative spouse petition, for example, from the initial consult to the U.S. Consulate interview, is approximately 24-28months. Details for this timeline are as follows:
- Step 1: I-130, Petition for Alien Relative Submission
- (10-11 months)Adjudication period. Receipt notices are received within 2-3 weeks of submission.
- Step 2: National Visa Center (NVC) Part I
- (1 month)Following approval of I-130 by USCIS; USCIS sends the file to NVC for processing and issuing fee bills associated with Immigrant Visa Application and Affidavit of Support.
- Step 3: I-601A, Provisional Unlawful Waiver Submission and Adjudication
- (6.5-8.5 months)Adjudication period. Receipt notices are received within 2-3 weeks of submission.
- Step 4: NVC Part II
- (4-5 months depending on if a request for evidence)
- Submission of I-864 and DS-260 among other documents
- Step 5: Visa appointment
- (1-3 months)for notice of interview depending on the consular post.
- Medical Exam
Please note that this timeline only takes into consideration recently-noted trends in processing times by the government, and not any additional time that preparation of documentation by the client and attorney may take.
The Powers Law Group has helped thousands of families stay united through by using the provisional waiver and take the leap to legal permanent residency and a more secure future. Our success rate is very high as we ensure that prior to submission each waiver has all the required documents to meet the standard needed for approval.
It is important to your journey to do your research in hiring the attorney and firm to assist you through this process. Be aware of ‘notario’ fraud and people or groups offering to “fill out forms” for you as immigration law is more complex than this and often people become victims of unauthorized practice of law. Learning about a firm’s experience with waivers and knowledge of various countries, including your own, are essential. As they say, a journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step.
If you are interested in learning more provisional waivers or how these updated guidelines may affect you, feel free to contact our offices at (713)-589-2085 or email us at [email protected] to set up a consultation.