The I-601A Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver (“I-601A provisional waiver”) allows certain immigrant visa applicants who are subject to the 3- or 10-year unlawful presence bars to avoid a long family separation during the Green Card process. “Unlawful presence” accrues when you enter the US without permission or when you are not in an authorized period of stay. An immigrant visa applicant who accrues more than 180 days of unlawful presence will need a waiver of inadmissibility when he or she departs the US to appear at a US Consulate for an immigrant visa interview. Without an approved provisional waiver of inadmissibility, the applicant would be required to remain outside the US for up to three or ten years (depending on how much unlawful presence he or she had accrued) before completing the Green Card process. However, with an approved I-601A provisional waiver, the applicant will be able to return to the US as a lawful permanent resident immediately after the immigrant visa is issued, reducing the time spent abroad to usually only a few weeks.
Individuals who are subject to additional grounds of inadmissibility or who otherwise do not qualify for a provisional unlawful presence waiver may be eligible to file Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility after a Department of State consular officer determines that they are inadmissible to the United States.
The immigrant visa applicant files the I-601A provisional waiver application while still in the United States and only departs the US for the immigrant visa interview after the provisional waiver application is approved. To qualify for an I-601A provisional waiver, you must 1) be the beneficiary of an approved I-130 or I-140 petition (or be otherwise statutorily eligible for an immigrant visa) and 2) be the relative of a US citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR) spouse or parent. To obtain an approval of the provisional waiver, you must provide evidence to show that your US citizen or LPR spouse or parent would suffer extreme hardship if the waiver were not approved, and that you warrant a favorable exercise of discretion.
The I-601A provisional waiver process is an important form of immigration relief for those who qualify and are subject to the unlawful presence ground of inadmissibility because it shortens the time that US citizen and LPR family members are separated from their relatives while those relatives are obtaining immigrant visas to become LPRs of the United States.