When the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it would issue provisional waivers of inadmissiblity due to unlawful presence to the immediate relatives of U.S. citizens beginning in 2013 (and to other persons with close relatives in the U.S. beginning in 2015), many immigrants who would once have been forced leave the U.S. in order to apply for such a waiver along with their green card application were justifiably excited.
Qualifying immigrants are able to request this waiver while still in the U.S.(which is why it’s sometimes called the “stateside” waiver). Unlike in the past, they will receive a decision in a matter of months as to whether their unlawful presence in the U.S.will delay their hopes for an immigrant visa for many years, and will be able to wait in the U.S.while their waiver application is being processed. For more information on this, see “Who Is Eligible for Provisional Waiver of the Three- or Ten-Year Time Bar.”
However, the truth is that many immigrants who apply to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for this waiver using Form I-601A will receive a denial notice. A provisional waiver is a discretionary form of relief, meaning USCIS can approve or deny an application for most any reason.
Some applications will not meet the burden of proof required by USCIS. Keep reading on for information about what to do if your provisional waiver application is denied.
USCIS provides no appeals process for denials of applications for a provisional unlawful presence waiver. Similarly, the agency will not accept a request to reopen your case or a request that it reconsider its decision. Therefore, it is crucial that you submit a complete application the first time around.
Even if you receive a denial, you are not barred from applying for a provisional waiver again if your immigrant visa application is still pending (in other words, no decision has yet been made on it). You may submit a new provisional waiver application (with the same fees you paid the first time) if you have new information to support your request and to show that denying you admission to theU.S.would cause your qualifyingU.S.relative(s) “extreme hardship.”
Reapplying might be a good option if there is a change in your situation that shows that yourU.S.citizen spouse, child, or parent will suffer because of the denial of a stateside waiver. For example, if your spouse has lost his or her job and needs you to be able to work legally in theU.S.in order to pay the bills, this is new information that would merit filing a new application for a provisional waiver. Or if your parent has developed a medical problem and needs you to be in theU.S.to take care of him or her, you should submit a new application to USCIS using Form I-601A. However, if you will simply be resubmitting the same information, don’t bother (unless you have found an attorney who will help you organize and present it in a more compelling manner).
If you want to continue with the visa application process even after your denial, you may leave the U.S. and attend your immigrant visa interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country and then submit a traditional waiver of inadmissibility application using Form I-601. However, be aware that if this waiver is denied, you risk a lengthy separation from your U.S.family, as you will be barred from reentering the U.S.for three or ten years. To learn more, see Nolo’s article, “Filing Process for the I-601 Waiver.”
If your provisional waiver application is denied, you may decide to abandon your immigrant visa application and do nothing at all. Unless USCIS believes you have committed a crime or fraud or pose a threat to public safety or national security, you will not be in any increased danger of being placed into removal proceedings. However, it is always possible, if you are living in theU.S.without authorization, that you may be apprehended or otherwise come to the attention of the immigration authorities and receive a Notice to Appear inImmigration Court. There may be other options available to you at that time, such as applying for cancellation of removal.
If you think you may qualify for another form of immigration relief, such as asylum, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), or Temporary Protected Status (TPS), consult an immigration attorney who can best advise you as to what you should do next.