Form I-601A, titled "Application for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver," and also known as the "stateside waiver," has been issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and available for free download on the Forms page of the USCIS website. Applicants can now use it to file for a provisional waiver.
What Form I-601A Is Used For
First, a little background: Form I-601A is a specialized waiver-request form -- closely related to the more generic Form I-601 that's used by any immigrant applying for a waiver of inadmissibility in order to overcome a barrier to obtaining a green card. For example, an immigrant might use Form I-601 to ask the U.S. government to overlook the fact that the visa or green card applicant is inadmissible based on past commisson of a crime or fraud, or excessive unlawful presence in the United States.
Form I-601A, however, has a more specialized use: It's for immediate relatives (spouse, parents, or unmarried children under the age of 21) seeking a waiver of the three- and ten-year time bars for unlawful presence, and doing so in advance of leaving the U.S. for their immigrant visa (green card) interview at a U.S. consulate in their home country.
For further details on this so-called stateside waiver, see Nolo’s update, “DHS Publishes Procedures for Green Card Applicants to Request Unlawful Presence Waiver,” as well as its articles on ”Who Is Eligible for Provisional Waiver of Three- or Ten-Year Time Bar” and ”How to Apply for Provisional Waiver of Three- or Ten-Year Time Bar.”
Information You'll Need to Provide on Form I-601A
Here's what you will be asked to fill in on Form I-601A.
- Your identifying information. This includes name, Alien Number or A# (which you will have only if you have submitted previous applications for immigration benefits or been in removal/deportation proceedings -- if the latter is true, definitely see an attorney before proceeding with this application), and Social Security Number, if you have one (which you should only have if you were authorized to work in the U.S.).
- Your address. You are allowed to use a mailing address, but must still enter your actual address. The Department of Homeland Security has specifically said that it will not use this information to attempt to deport immigrants (unless they are criminals or threats to public safety).
- Your contact information, including telephone number and email address.
- Your country of birth and citizenship information.
- Information about your last entry to the United States. You will need to enter the date, place (city and U.S. state), and manner of entry, which was most likely "Entry Without Inspection" or "EWI." (If you had entered the U.S. legally, with a visa or visa waiver, chances are you are eligible to adjust status without leaving the U.S., and therefore have no need of this provisional waiver.) Don’t worry that you’re revealing a big secret here – most of the people using this form also entered the U.S. without inspection.
- Information about your previous entries to the United States. This section is more problematic. If you have entered the U.S. without inspection more than once, it’s possible you have become subject to a “permanent bar” to U.S. immigration, for which no waiver is available. Consult an attorney, and see “The Permanent Bar to Immigration for Certain Repeat Violators” for more information on this.
- Information about your immigration or criminal history. You’ll need to truthfully answer questions about past crimes, immigration violations and fraud, and other issues that might make you inadmissible for reasons other than unlawful presence. A “Yes” answer to any of these will result in denial of your provisional waiver application. But resist the temptation to lie! Doing so can get you into bigger trouble than the original ground of inadmissibility. Consult an immigration attorney if you aren’t sure you can truthfully answer “No” to any of these questions. When you visit the attorney, bring any evidence you have concerning the issue, such as police or court records.
- Information about the petitioner, most likely the U.S. relative who filed a visa petition for you, or yourself if you self-petitioned on Form I-360. You will need to supply information about the petition approval. You need to have received this approval before going forward with this provisional waiver application. But you cannot have been scheduled for an interview at a U.S. consulate before January 3, 2013, or the case has gone too far for you to use the stateside waiver (and rescheduling will not help).
- Information about your qualifying U.S. relative. This is probably the same person as in the previous section, but not necessarily. It is the person (or persons) who will suffer extreme hardship if your waiver application and thus green card is denied. This person must be your U.S. citizen spouse or parent – hardship to children does not count for the provisional waiver.
- Additional information. You will be given space to add information that is relevant to your application. Another option is to attach a written statement summarizing your request (which is a task that many people find they prefer a lawyer’s help with).
- Signature. Don’t forget to sign the form, or USCIS will return the whole packet to you.
- Signature of person preparing this application. If an attorney or accredited representative is helping you, he or she will fill out this information.
Remember, filling out the form is not enough by itself to qualify you for a provisional stateside waiver of unlawful presence. You will need to provide extensive documentation showing that you are eligible for this waiver, as described in ”How to Apply for Provisional Waiver of Three- or Ten-Year Time Bar.” For assistance, consult an experienced immigration attorney.