A person not eligible to be admitted into the United States or to adjust her status may obtain lawful admission by filing an application for waiver of the grounds of inadmissibility.

Eligible People

Both immigrants (intending permanent residents) and nonimmigrants (temporary visitors) can apply for waivers of most grounds of inadmissibility, although the chances of success will vary based on the ground of inadmissibility and what is called the "equities" of the case. That is, it's important and often necessary to show ties to the United States (such as family members or long residence) and to give the impression that, on balance, a waiver is more fair than a denial. If at all possible, also show that allowing the person in will be advantageous to the US in some way.

Grounds of Inadmissibility

An eligible alien can seek a waiver only for the following "grounds of inadmissibility":

  • Failure to possess required documentation such as green cards, US passports or visas
  • Health-related grounds such as communicable diseases,and behavioral disorders
  • Certain criminal grounds such as crimes involving "moral turpitude," controlled substances, prostitution and other serious offenses
  • Immigration fraud or misrepresentation
  • Membership in a totalitarian party
  • Alien smuggling
  • Unlawful presence in the US
  • Certain grounds of inadmissibility if filed by a Temporarily Protected Status applicant
  • Inadmissibility based on prior removal or unlawful presence after prior immigration violations (HRIFA and NACARA applicants)
  • Unlawful presence after a prior immigration violation (VAWA self-petitioner)
  • Likelihood to become a public charge - in jail, on welfare

Supporting Documentation

The applicant is responsible for meeting all requirements to have the particular ground of inadmissibility waived and has to show that she's deserving of the requested relief. Depending on the type of waiver sought, the applicant may be required to submit the following supporting documents:

  • Affidavits from the alien or other individuals in support of the application
  • Police reports from any country lived in
  • All court records of any convictions or charges from any country
  • Evidence of rehabilitation, if necessary
  • Evidence showing that granting the waiver would not be against the public interest or national security
  • Medical reports
  • Evidence indicating extreme hardship such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, family relationships, financial impact of departure, country conditions and so on
  • Evidence of battery or extreme cruelty

Reasons for Granting Waivers

Generally, waivers of inadmissibility are granted for the following reasons:

  • The risks to the public are minimal
  • The waiver serves a humanitarian purpose
  • The waiver serves the public interest
  • The waiver would maintain family unity

Any falsifying or concealing of material facts when seeking a waiver will result in the denial of the waiver and may result in the denial of other immigration benefits and forms of relief. Further, she may be subject to criminal prosecution.

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