Waivers of Inadmissibility to the US
I have a criminal background, or have had prior issues with US immigration, can I still visit the U.\S?If you think you might have a hard time getting a non-immigrant visa to visit the U.S. because of some issue in your background, such as a criminal conviction or having lied to U.S. immigration authorities, don't give up! While some mistakes will cause you to be classified as inadmissible, US immigration policy is designed to support the freedom of travel and allows for waivers of inadmissibility if you are otherwise eligible for the visa you are requesting and your presence in the US would not be harmful.
If your application is denied, the consular officer should tell you if you are eligible for a waiver. If you are eligible, the consular officer should consider 3 factors when determining whether to recommend that you be granted a waiver. Consular officers at the Embassy are not able to grant the waivers themselves, instead they must make a recommendation to the Department of Homeland Security Admissibility Review Office.
How will the consular officer decide whether to recommend a waiver?First, the consular officer will consider how recent and how serious the actions that caused your inadmissibility were. Then, they will consider why you want to travel to the U.S. Finally, they will evaluate the effect of your proposed travel on the U.S. If you think you might not be eligible for entry into the U.S., make sure to bring all documents that support your claim for a waiver with you to the embassy interview. It is a good idea to consult with an attorney to prepare your case in advance of the interview.
After considering all of these factors, a waiver may be recommended for any legitimate travel that does not and is not likely to be harmful to the U.S. Even if the consular officer at the Embassy does not recommend the waiver, you may still request a waiver and ask for an advisory opinion. The consular officer is not allowed to refuse to submit your request for a waiver to the Department for further review.
What if my immigrant visa application is denied at the Embassy interview?If your application is denied at the Embassy interview, the consular officer will give you a form explaining why the application was denied and whether you may be eligible to apply for a waiver of inadmissibility. This is true for both immigrant and non-immigrant visa applications.
Sometimes you might not get a visa because you did not file all the required paperwork. Or the interviewer may request additional paperwork. Other reasons you may be denied a visa include health reasons, a criminal background, prior issues with U.S. immigration, being a member of a totalitarian party, and certain other rarer cases. In some cases your inadmissibility may only be for 3 or 10 years, and there may even be a waiver available to allow you to obtain a visa sooner. However, there are some reasons for inadmissibility that preclude you from ever getting a visa to the U.S.
Waivers are available for non-immigrant visa applications also, but are temporary and do not require a special form or fees.
What do I do if I can apply for a waiver?You may file Form I-601 Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility. Even if you can apply for a waiver, your specific circumstances may not meet the requirements for granting the waiver and issuing you a visa. In some cases, you may need to wait months or years before you become eligible. In addition, all waivers of inadmissibility are discretionary, so the visa may still be denied even if you have good evidence that you are eligible. You should contact an attorney to determine whether to file an application for waiver and how to best present your specific situation.
Extreme HardshipIf you are applying for a visa to be with family, such as a K visa, one of the most common reasons for granting a visa is extreme hardship to your family member in the US. This type of waiver is only available if your inadmissibility to the US would cause extreme hardship to your spouse, child, parent, or fiance who is a US citizen, lawful permanent resident or immigrant visa holder. To be eligible for this type of waiver you must be able to prove that you are related to the US citizen or lawful resident. You may need to prove that they have stronger ties to the US than to any foreign country or that it would cause financial, health related, emotional, cultural, safety or other problems for the US citizen or resident to leave the US. The extreme hardship could also be a result of the impact of separation on your family member in the US, but separation alone is not enough to prove extreme hardship.
My visa application was denied for health reasons, what can I do?If you were denied denied a visa for health reasons you may be eligible for a waiver. If eligible, you should file Form I-601 with the appropriate fee and supporting documents.
If you have a contagious disease of public health significance you may be eligible for a waiver of inadmissibility if you live in the US and are a spouse or child of a US citizen or permanent resident who abuses you or if you are a spouse, parent, unmarried child, or unmarried, minor adopted child of a US citizen, permanent resident or immigrant visa holder. This waiver is not available for fiances or their children. If you have class A tuberculosis, you'll have to fill out additional paperwork.
If you have a physical or mental disorder and behavior related to the disorder might threaten the property, safety or welfare of yourself or others you'll have to submit a complete medical report. The medical report will be reviewed by the Public Health Service who will review it and may have more requirements.
VaccinationsWhile the easiest way to meet the requirement for proof of vaccinations is to be vaccinated, there are exceptions to the rule for adopted children under 10 years old who are sponsored by a U.S. family member. In addition, the vaccination requirement may be waived for people who oppose all vaccinations for religious or moral grounds or if an approved doctor certifies that the vaccination is not medically appropriate for you.
My visa was denied because I have a criminal background, what should I do?If you have a criminal background you may be eligible for a waiver. If so, you should file Form I-601 with the appropriate fee and supporting documents.
Political crimes, crimes committed both before you were 18 and over 5 years before you applied for the visa, and single crimes with a maximum penalty of not more than 1 year in jail and for which you were sentenced to less than 6 months in jail shouldn't cause your visa application to be denied.
If you were convicted of a violent crime, a waiver won't be approved except in extraordinary circumstances related to national security, foreign policy, or exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to your US relative. You may be granted a waiver only for prostitution, crimes violating community standards of justice, honesty or good morals, simple possession of less than 30g of marijuana, 2 or more convictions for which you were sentenced to over 5 years of total jail time, commercialized vice, and some cases where asserted immunity.
Available waivers for criminal background.If you were denied a visa for participating in prostitution, but you have been rehabilitated and are not a danger to U.S. security, welfare or safety you may be granted a waiver.
If you were denied a visa based on criminal activity over 15 years ago and you have rehabilitated and are not a danger to U.S. security, welfare or safety you may be granted a waiver.
You also may be granted a waiver if you live in the U.S. and are a spouse or child of a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident who abuses you.
Finally, if the U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse, parent or child who is sponsoring your immigrant or K visa application would experience extreme hardship if you were not allowed to enter the U.S. you may be granted a waiver for any of the crimes listed above. If you are a relative of a U.S. citizen, green card holder or immigrant visa holder you must be able to show that the citizen or legal resident would suffer extreme hardship if you could not join him or her.
My visa application was denied because I have had prior issues with U.S. immigration. What should I do?Waivers are not available if you falsely claimed US citizenship. And your visa won't be granted if you were involved in smuggling people into the US.
If you were denied a visa because you lied to US immigration authorities in the past, you may be eligible for a waiver if the US citizen or permanent resident spouse or parent who is sponsoring your immigrant or K visa application would experience extreme hardship if you weren't allowed to enter the US. You may also be granted a waiver if you live in the US, are a spouse or child of a US citizen or legal permanent resident who abuses you and you or the US citizen or permanent resident parent or child who is sponsoring you would experience extreme hardship.
If you were denied a visa because because you were illegally present in the US for over 180 days, you may be eligible for a waiver if the US citizen or or permanent resident spouse or parent who is sponsoring your visa application would experience extreme hardship.
My visa application was denied because I have been a voluntary member of a totalitarian or communist party. What should I do?You may be eligible for a waiver if you are the parent, child, brother, sister, spouse or fiance of a U.S. citizen or a spouse or child of a green card holder. If you are eligible to apply for a waiver, you should file Form I-601 Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility with the appropriate fee and any additional evidence required to prove you are eligible for the waiver. Waivers may be granted if you are not a threat to U.S. security and to ensure family unity or to meet humanitarian or public interest goals.