Provisional Unlawful Presence Waivers (I-601A)

Family-Based Immigration

Summary

If the USCIS discovers you have accrued unlawful presence in the country, you may be barred from entering the country again for a certain period of time. Your unlawful presence can serve as grounds that will affect your chances of being granted permanent resident status (green card). The I-601A helps you overcome your unlawful presence status.

What Is a Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver?

The I-601A or an application for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver is the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) official pardon for living in the U.S. without authorization.

If the USCIS discovers you have accrued unlawful presence in the country, you may be barred from entering the country again for a certain period of time. Your unlawful presence can serve as grounds that will affect your chances of being granted permanent resident status (green card). The I-601A helps you overcome your unlawful presence status.

With a successful I-601A application, the U.S. embassy in your country cannot deny your visa request on grounds of your unlawful presence. Note that this does not mean that a Green Card is guaranteed.

The Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver only forgives your unlawful presence. If you have other grounds that you think might affect your chances of getting a Green Card (like a criminal record), consider speaking to an immigration lawyer to review your case and present your options.

How Do I Qualify for an I-601A?

The USCIS has specific conditions that make you qualified to file an I-601A. You must check all boxes to get a successful Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver:

  • You must have accrued unlawful presence, meaning you have been present in the U.S. without authorization. This waiver is your way to apply for forgiveness of your unlawful presence in the country.
  • You must be physically present in the United States. After all, I-601A is a waiver for your unlawful presence in the country.
  • You must be at least 17 years old.
  • You must have an underlying petition with the Department of State (DOS). An underlying petition is an existing petition that someone might have filed for you before in an attempt to legalize your presence in the U.S. Such petitions may include:
    • I-130, Petition for Alien Relative: You must be in the process of getting an immigrant visa through a relative who is a U.S. citizen or a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR). This form establishes that you are related to a U.S. citizen or LPR. It is not proof of immigrant status.
    • I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker: You must have a pending visa application through an employer. Your employer may petition for your permanent residence in the country through this form, giving you employment-based citizenship.
  • You must have active cases from any of those petitions, which means that consular processing must have been triggered for your case. When consular processing is triggered, the National Visa Center (NVC) has begun the process for you to fill out your visa application through those petitions.

You must already have paid the necessary invoice fees and submitted supporting documents to the NVC. Be sure to keep the receipts of having done all of that and paid all the fees to start your visa application with the NVC.

When you complete these requirements, the NVC can send your file over to the U.S. embassy in your home country, where you will be interviewed for your immigrant visa.

Can My Application Be Denied?

Your I-601A application can be denied if you don’t meet all of the requirements. In some cases, you may meet all qualifications for a Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver, but something else may make you ineligible. Here are the conditions that disqualify you from filing a Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver:

  • I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence Status: You cannot apply for a Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver if you have a pending adjustment of status application. The I-485 is a form that helps you adjust your status to a Green Card holder.
  • Removal Proceedings: You cannot file an I-601A if you are currently in removal or deportation proceedings. You can be exempted if you can prove to the USCIS that a judge has administratively closed your case.

Relatedly, you are ineligible for a Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver if the Department of Homeland has a final order of removal on your case. A final order of removal means that the judge has decided that you must leave the country. The exception for having a final order on your departure is if you have permission from the USCIS to reapply for admission. It is especially important to speak with an immigration lawyer to review your circumstances and help you strategize if you have an outstanding order of deportation.

  • Extreme Hardship: The USCIS will deny your waiver application if you cannot prove that your U.S. citizen or LPR qualifying relative will experience extreme hardship if the USCIS refuses to admit you to the country. In other words, you must establish that you have a spouse or parent who is a U.S. citizen or LPR and that their living conditions will greatly suffer if you were forced to go back to your home country.

Please consider all these qualifications and make sure you meet them all. You don’t want to pay the expensive filing fees for a Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver only to discover that you are ineligible.

How Do I Fill Out an I-601A?

You can type your answers for Form I-601A electronically or print out the form and fill out each part in black ink. The form has nine parts:

Part 1: Information About You

This section has 45 questions that establish your personal information. Some questions have sub-questions that go into more detail.

The USCIS reminds all applicants to fill out the following items in this part to avoid rejection:

  • Alien Registration Number (A-Number) (if any)
  • Family Name
  • U.S. Physical Address
  • Date of Birth
  • Country of Birth

Part 2: Biographic Information

You would describe your physical appearance (height, weight, eye color, and hair color), your ethnicity, and race in this section.

Part 3: Information About Your Immigrant Visa Case

This section is where you describe your immigrant visa status. You should only select one box that contains the petition you filed.

Part 4: Information About Your Qualifying Relative

This part is where you describe how your U.S. citizen or LPR relative will suffer extreme hardship if you do not get admission into the country.

Part 5: Statement From Applicant

This section is where you explain why the USCIS should waive your unlawful presence in the U.S. However, please note that the applicant should be providing significantly more information than the space allows for on the form itself.

Part 6: Applicant’s Statement, Contact Information, Declaration, Certification, and Signature

If you are applying yourself, this is where you provide final personal details like your contact information so the USCIS can get in touch with the status of your application. Be sure to sign the appropriate box. The USCIS will reject any unsigned form.

Part 7: Interpreter’s Contact Information, Certification, and Signature

If you got help from an interpreter when filling out your form, this is where they would place their contact information and signature confirming their assistance.

Part 8: Contact Information, Declaration, and Signature of the Person Preparing this Application, if Other Than the Applicant

If another person filled out your form (like a lawyer or another representative), this is where they would write their contact information and affix their signature.

Part 9: Additional Information

If you need to provide extra details for previous sections, mention the specific part and item and then fill out the spaces with additional information.

How Much Does the I-601A Cost?

You must pay $630 in I-601A filing fees.

Per USCIS regulation, you must pay an additional $85 for biometric services if you are younger than 79 years old.

You can pay these fees with a money order, personal check, or cashier’s check. Paying by check means you must make your check payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

You may also pay by credit card if you are filing at a USCIS Lockbox facility. You need to accompany your credit card payment with Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions.

Where Do I File an I-601A?

You can mail your Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver application to the USCIS Chicago Lockbox facility.

  • For U.S. Postal Service (USPS):

    USCIS
    P.O. Box 4599
    Chicago, IL 60680
  • For FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries:

    USCIS
    Attn: I-601A
    131 S. Dearborn, 3rd Floor
    Chicago, IL 60603-5517

Next Steps

The USCIS has complicated and precise requirements to file an I-601A. We advise using seasoned immigrant lawyers to review your case and see if you’re qualified for a Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver.

Locations

Los Angeles

(626) 795-6777

San Francisco

(415) 568-3777

Philippines

+011 (632) 8-663-2907

China

(86) 532-8257957777