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The I-601a, Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver, is used provisionally to waive the three and ten-year bar grounds of inadmissibility. It may be filed by individuals in the United States, prior to departure, who will apply for an immigrant visa abroad, and whose only ground of inadmissibility will be a three or ten-year bar. The three and ten-year bars are not triggered until a person departs the United States; thus, because the I-601a is filed while the applicant is still in the United States, it is referred to as a ‘provisional waiver.’ After the I-601a is approved and the applicant is abroad, a consular officer will officially approve the waiver.

What is a three or ten-year bar?

Any person who was unlawfully present in the United States for more than 180 days but less than one year, and leaves the country, will trigger a three-year bar. Any individual who has been unlawfully present in the United States for more than one year, and departs, will trigger a ten-year bar. The ‘bar’ means that you cannot lawfully return to the United States without a waiver for the specified period of time. For an immigrant visa (green card) a waiver can be obtained by filing either an I-601a (Application for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver) or an I-601 (Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility).

Who Can File the I-601a?

The I-601a, in contrast to the I-601, can only be used in limited circumstances. To use the I-601a, the following criteria must be met:

  • You are physically present in the United States.
  • You have an approved I-130.
  • You will consular process to obtain your immigrant visa (green card).
  • You have paid the Department of State Immigrant Fee.
  • You will be inadmissible at your consular interview because you have a three or ten-year bar.
  • You can provide evidence that if your application were denied your US citizen or lawfully resident spouse or parent would suffer extreme hardship.
  • If any other grounds of inadmissibility will apply to you, you are not eligible to file form I-601a.

If a consular officer determines that you need an additional waiver of a ground of inadmissibly (apart from a waiver of unlawful presence), your I-601a will be revoked. Two common, additional grounds of inadmissibility that crop up are criminal grounds and alien smuggling. If you entered the United States without permission and brought your child with you, a consular officer will likely find you inadmissible due of alien smuggling. Additionally, any prior conviction that involves alcohol may be scrutinized by a consular official. You should consult a reputable immigration attorney before filing an I-601a to ensure that no other grounds of inadmissibility apply to your case.

I-601a Evidence

The I-601a will be approved if you can show that your US citizen spouse or parent will suffer extreme hardship due to a denial of your application. Evidence will include affidavits by you and your qualifying relative(s), and proof of the following: financial, emotional, psychological, physical, medical, social, and familial hardships. The waiver should examine how your qualifying relative would suffer extreme hardship in your absence and also if they were forced to relocate to your country of origin.

Please contact a knowledgeable and experienced immigration attorney if you believe that you may be inadmissible to the United States. Our attorneys at Landerholm Immigration, APC, have extensive experience in cases involving grounds of inadmissibility and I-601a waivers. Please feel free to call us at 510-488-1020 to see how we can help!


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