How to Prepare Form I-601 to Request a Waiver of Inadmissibility

Tips for preparing USCIS Form I-601, used by green card applicants to apply for a waiver of inadmissibility.

By , Attorney · University of Pittsburgh School of Law

The I-601 Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility, which is used to overcome various barriers to receiving a U.S. green card or immigrant visa (lawful permanent residence), can be found on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website. This article discusses how to prepare it for submission (referring to the version issued 04/07/2022).

General Guidance to Preparing USCIS Form I-601

This application can seem intimidating. It is many pages long and asks for a lot of information. Fortunately, most of the questions are straightforward, in that they primarily ask about you and your family in the United States.

When you complete the I-601 application, you need to either fill it in online, or print it out and type or print your answers in black ink.

If possible, answer every question where a space is provided. But no answer is needed if the question says "if any," and there's no "any" in your case. For example, the form asks for "USCIS Online Account number (if any)." If you never got such a number, you can leave the space blank. Also, if a question does not apply to your situation, you can answer with "N/A" or "None."

Completing Part 1. Information About You

Part 1 of the I-601 application asks for information about you. Questions 1 through 14 ask for your basic contact and citizenship-related information. Some of it might not apply to you, especially if you've never lived in the United States.

You will have an Alien Registration number (Question 1) only if you've applied for some immigration benefit through USCIS (such as a work permit) or received a U.S. green card in the past or been in removal proceedings. If you don't have a USCIS Account Number (Question 2) leave this blank. Similarly (for Question 8), you will have a Social Security number only if you've lived in the U.S. with a right to work there.

Question 15.b asks about the location of your visa application. This refers to applicants outside the United States who applied for an immigrant visa at the consulate and were denied because of their ground(s) of inadmissibility.

If you are inside the U.S. and applying for a green card through the process known as "adjustment of status," say "yes" to Question 16.a and fill in your USCIS receipt number (found on the Form I-797 you received after mailing in your application packet).

Completing Part 2. U.S. Entry Information

This asks for details about your current as well as prior stays in the United States. If you are not currently in the United States, leave Question 1 blank.

For every stay, you will need to write in the date you entered, your immigration status then, the port of entry (for example, the city where your plane landed), the city and state you stayed in, the dates of your stay, and the date you left. If you lived in more than one place without leaving the U.S., try to fit these on the same line so as not to create the impression that you had many exits and entries.

If you can't remember the specific details of each stay in the U.S., include an affidavit with your application that states you recorded this information to the best of your ability.

Completing Part 3. Biographic Information

Here, you fill out basic identifying information. For "Race," many Hispanics decide that the closest descriptor is "white."

Completing Part 4. Reasons for Inadmissibility

Now we come to the crux of the reason you have to submit the I-601 application. If you have already attended a visa interview or adjustment of status interview, you might have already been told the answer to this question. Check the appropriate box or boxes.

Also understand that not every category of visa or green card applicant is subject to all the grounds of inadmissibility, which is why there are separate sections for different categories of applicants.

At the end of Part 4, you are asked to describe the reasons why you are inadmissible in your own words. A text box is provided for this purpose. This is also the place to assert, if true, that you aren't conceding to inadmissibility in the first place: in other words, that you will be applying for the waiver at the same time that you argue that you shouldn't have to because the government is mistaken about your inadmissibility.

    If your waiver is approved, it will only be for the grounds of inadmissibility that you indicated on this form. If you neglect to identify all grounds of inadmissibility, your waiver could end up being useless.

    Completing Part 5. Information About Your Qualifying Relatives

    Here's one of the biggest barrier to obtaining a waiver of inadmissibility: they are ordinarily available only to people who have a U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse, parent, or child in the United States who qualifies under the Immigration and Nationality Act (I.N.A.) for the particular ground(s) of inadmissibility—and in most cases, who would suffer some level of hardship if the would-be immigrant were denied the waiver.

    The form initially asks for basic biographic information about one qualifying relative. If you have more than one qualifying relative, you must check the box that's immediately under Question 8 and provide information about them in Part 10.

    If applying for a waiver as the fiancé of a U.S. citizen, you will write "prospective spouse" as your answer to Question 5, which asks you to identify your relationship with the qualifying relative. If you are the child of a fiancé of a U.S. citizen and you will be less than 18 years old at the time your parent marries, you will write "prospective stepchild" for Question 5. If you will be at least 18, but less than 21 years old, you will write "child" for Question 5.

    Question 9 offers a bit of space to describe the hardship—but this is the most important part of the application, and this space is too small to give a full answer. Your best bet is to prepare a separate statement. An attorney can help with this important task.

    Completing Part 6

    Part 6 of the I-601 asks for information about any other relatives you have in the United States. Even though they are technically not qualifying relatives, they can help your case by showing your connections to people in the U.S.; particularly if they are your children who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

    Completing Parts 7 - 9

    You must sign Part 7 of the form. If you used an interpreter, that person must fill out and sign Part 8. If you had an attorney, paralegal, or other third party complete the application for you, that person will complete and sign Part 9 of the form.

    Part 10. Additional Information

    This simply provides extra space where you can enter information that didn't fit elsewhere.

    Part 11. Statement for Applicants With a Class A Tuberculosis Condition

    This part of the I-601 application needs to be completed and submitted only by applicants who have a Class A Tuberculosis Condition and are therefore applying for a waiver of this health-based ground of inadmissibility.

    It includes three statements that must be signed by you, your physician, and a local or state health officer who recognizes your physician for the purpose of providing care for tuberculosis and is willing to cooperate with your waiver request.

    This page also asks for the address where you plan to reside while in the United States.

    Supporting Documentation With Form I-601

    Your I-601 application must include documentation that supports your claim for a waiver. The instructions for Form I-601 provide an overview of the types of supporting documents that must be submitted for the waiver you are applying for.

    When and Where to Submit Form I-601

    How exactly you submit the Form I-601 depends on what type of application for a visa or immigration benefit you are submitting. In some cases, where you know in advance that you will be found inadmissible, you might be allowed to submit it before the immigration authorities have requested it, in conjunction with your visa or other application.

    In other cases, you will need to follow instructions from whatever immigration-related agency or consulate told you that you were inadmissible and offered you the opportunity to apply for a waiver. You will also need to pay a fee, unless you fall into an exception. (That fee was $930 in early 2024, but double check before filing, because USCIS has proposed changes to its fee structure.)

    Seeking Legal Assistance

    It is always a good idea to consult with an experienced immigration attorney when preparing an I-601 Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility. An attorney can assist in collecting the best evidence to support your arguments. An attorney can also prepare a legal summary to support your case and to serve as a guide for the adjudicating officer.

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