Permanent Resident Waivers
In order to obtain permanent residence in the United States, it is necessary to show there is nothing in the immigrant’s background to disqualify him or her from admissibility. While there are many grounds of inadmissibility, not all of them can be waived.
Permanent residence waivers are complicated and the standards for approval are quite high. Not everyone will be eligible for or should apply for a waiver. It is important to consult with an immigration lawyer to determine whether a waiver is required or recommended for a particular situation. Most people will not be able to successfully obtain a waiver without an attorney’s help.
Waiver for Unlawful Presence in the United States
Most persons who entered the United States without inspection must leave the United States to interview at U.S. consulates for family immigrant visas. They must also file for a waiver of unlawful presence. To qualify for the waiver, the applicant must show that a U.S. citizen or permanent relative spouse or parent would suffer extreme hardship if the waiver is not granted.
If the foreign national is the spouse, unmarried child (between the age of 17-21) or parent of a U.S. citizen, it is possible to apply for a waiver of unlawful presence based on the extreme hardship that would accrue to the qualifying U.S. citizen relative if the waiver is not granted and the foreign national had to depart the United States. If the waiver is granted, the foreign national will then proceed to an interview at the consulate.
Applicants for waivers who are related to spouses or parents with permanent residence will be required to depart the United States before applying for a waiver, a much riskier proposition because they could then be subject to harsh penalties preventing re-entry if the waiver application is not approved. For this reason, persons who are present unlawfully in the United States and who desire family-based permanent residence should consult with an attorney prior to filing any immigration petition or application.
Other waivers exist for people who commit certain crimes, suffer from particular health conditions, or commit fraud by lying or submitting false documentation to gain an immigration benefit. These waivers may be applied for within the United States if the foreign citizen entered the United States with inspection. Otherwise, the foreign citizen must apply for a waiver from outside the United States.
NonImmigrant Visa Waivers
Waivers also exist for persons who are not applying for permanent residence, e.g. the person is applying for a student or employment visa. The foreign citizen must file the application for waiver from outside the United States.
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