Filing Process for the I-601 Waiver
The filing procedures for a Form I-601 request for a waiver of inadmissibility changed in 2012; here is a rundown of the newer procedures.
Where and how you file your I-601 Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility depends primarily on where you are physically residing at the time of filing. It will also depend on what you are mainly applying for; an immigrant visa or green card, a green card under VAWA, adjustment of status as a T nonimmigrant, or Temporary Protected Status (TPS).
Filing an I-601 From Outside the United States
If you are residing outside the United States and a consular officer has found you to be inadmissible to the U.S., you will most likely need to file your I-601 application at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Phoenix Lockbox. Once your application has been processed at the Lockbox, it will be forwarded to the Nebraska Service Center (NSC) for decision-making. This procedure was implemented on June 4, 2012 and will not apply in every case. The exceptions to this filing procedure are:
- If you are processing your immigrant visa in Cuba, you will file your I-601 application with the USCIS Havana Field Office. This exception is due to the fact that there is no direct mailing service between Cuba and the United States.
- If you have exceptional and compelling circumstances that justify filing the I-601 application at the international USCIS Field Office in the country where you are residing. These circumstances must demonstrate a need to file the application immediately and show that expedited processing at the NSC will be insufficient to address the urgency of your situation. This exception applies only in countries where a USCIS Field Office is located. If your request to file your I-601 application at an international Field Office is denied, you can submit a written request for expedited processing of your I-601 application when you file it with the USCIS Phoenix Lockbox.
If you had an appointment with a U.S. consulate to file the I-601 waiver after July 4, 2012, you would have received a cancellation notice with instructions to file your application at the USCIS Phoenix Lockbox. Likewise, if you filed your I-601 application with an international Field Office after July 4, 2012 without satisfying one of the exceptions above, your application will be returned with instructions to file it with the USCIS Phoenix Lockbox.
Filing an I-601 From Inside the United States
If you are filing your I-601 application in the United States, as part of an application to adjust status, you have two options; to either
- file it with your I-485 Application to Adjust Status, or
- file it after your I-485 application has been receipted in by USCIS.
If you are filing both applications (the I-601 and I-485) together, you must send both of them to the filing location indicated in the I-485 application instructions. If you have already filed your I-485 application, you will send your I-601 application to one of three USCIS Lockbox facilities, depending on your I-485 receipt number:
- If your receipt number begins with “MSC” or does not have a three-letter code at the beginning, you will file your application at the USCIS Chicago Lockbox.
- If your receipt number begins with “EAC” or “SRC,” you will file your application at the USCIS Dallas Lockbox.
- If your receipt number begins with “LIN” or “WAC,” you will file your application at the USCIS Phoenix Lockbox.
The receipt number can be found on the upper lefthand corner of the receipt notice that USCIS issued and sent to you after you filed your I-485 application.
VAWA Petitioners and T Nonimmigrants' I-601 Filing Procedures
If you have an approved I-360 Petition for Special Immigrant as a VAWA petitioner (i.e. as the self-petitioning spouse or child of an abusive U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident), you must file your I-601 application with the Vermont Service Center (VSC) regardless of whether you are inside or outside the United States. If you are in the United States and have already filed an I-485 Application to Adjust Status, you still need to file your I-601 application with the VSC.
If you are a T nonimmigrant applying for adjustment of status, you must also file your I-601 application at the VSC.
TPS Holders' I-601 Filing Procedures
If you are applying for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), you must file your I-601 application with the I-821 Application for TPS. Where you file these applications depends on the country you are seeking protected status from. USCIS maintains a page on TPS with filing information listed by country here.
Provisional Waivers for People Living in the U.S. Who Must Use Consular Processing
The Department of Homeland Security announced that beginning on March 4, 2013, it will implement a provisional waiver (or "stateside waiver") option for certain people in the United States who are inadmissible because of unlawful presence. This option will allow qualified applicants who will use consular processing rather than adjusting status to file an application using Form I-601A and receive a provisional waiver before leaving the United States to complete the visa process at a U.S. consulate. For more information about who qualifies for the stateside waiver, see "Who Is Eligible for Provisional Waiver of the Three- or Ten-Year Time Bar;" and for guidance on the application process, see "How to Apply for Provisional Waiver of the Three- or Ten-Year Time Bar."
If you are unsure of where to file your I-601 application, refer to the I-601 instruction packet on the USCIS website. This packet includes the addresses for each USCIS Lockbox located in the United States. You can also call USCIS and ask a customer service representative at 1-800-375-5283.