Which Nonimmigrant Visa Inadmissibility Grounds Cannot Be Waived

Applicants for tourist, student, or other temporary U.S. visas who are inadmissible may not, in all cases, be able to apply for a waiver.

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Applying for a nonimmigrant, or temporary visa to the U.S. – perhaps a tourist, student, H-1B, or other visa? Even if you meet the minimum eligibility requirements, you can be denied the visa if you are found “inadmissible” to the United States. A person may be inadmissible for various health, financial, criminal, security, or other grounds, summarized in, “Inadmissibility: When the U.S. Can Keep You Out.”

It is possible to overcome a finding of inadmissibility, however. First, you might qualify for an exception. Second, the law allows some applicants to apply for a “waiver,” or legal forgiveness of the ground of inadmissibility. See “Applying for a Nonimmigrant Visa (Hranka) Waiver” for details.

Not everyone can apply for a waiver, however. As a matter of law, nonimmigrant visa applicants are not eligible for a waiver if they are inadmissible because they:

  • are suspected of intending to commit espionage, sabotage, or prohibited export of Sensitive technology or information
  • participated in Nazi persecutions or genocide
  • are presumed to intend to remain in the U.S. as permanent immigrants
  • have knowingly made a frivolous application for asylum
  • have been involved in political killings, or
  • have previously overstayed a U.S. visa (except in extraordinary circumstances).

The good news is, this list is a lot shorter than the one faced by applicants for a U.S. green card (lawful permanent residence). (If you are one of those applicants, you should not be reading this article; refer instead to “Which Green-Card Inadmissibility Grounds Cannot Be Waived.”) In other words, waivers are available for most of the grounds of inadmissibility faced by nonimmigrant visa applicants – most likely because the U.S. government knows that you will be leaving within a short time.

Nevertheless, if you hope to receive a nonimmigrant U.S. visa and you meet one of the above descriptions, chances are you will not qualify for it. It would not, however, be wise to form any conclusions based on this list alone. U.S. immigration law is extremely complex, containing numerous exceptions and detailed definitions.

Consult with an experienced U.S. immigration attorney for a full, personal analysis of your potential eligibility for a waiver of inadmissibility or U.S. visa.

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