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What is an I-601 Waiver?

By Felicia Dye
Updated May 17, 2024
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An I-601 form is an 11-page document formally titled Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissability. Many individuals simply refer to the form as an I-601 waiver. This document is used by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to allow individuals who have been deemed inadmissible to the US to request a waiver that will either allow them to enter the country or allow them to adjust their status while in the country.

There are a number of reasons why a person may be deemed inadmissible to the US, such as having certain communicable diseases or being convicted of a crime. Such an individual would generally have to remain outside of the US for an allotted period of time. The I-601 waiver is essentially a request for that decision to be reconsidered on the grounds that the affected individual has family members legally residing in the US who will experience undue hardship if the person is not admitted.

The government requires the applying parties to prove these claims. When assessing the case, immigration authorities consider two scenarios. They attempt to determine whether extreme hardship would exist if the family member who is a US citizen were to leave the country with the inadmissible individual. They will also consider whether continuing to deem an individual inadmissible, which often forces him to stay outside of the country, will create undue hardship.

One of the most convenient ways to access the 11-page I-601 waiver is to download it directly from the USCIS website. Instructions for completing it are also available. Before filing the application, individuals should be aware that having a waiver granted can be very difficult, and filing this form is not generally free. This is a specialized matter that tends to be best handled with the assistance of an experienced immigration attorney.

Depending on the circumstances, a person may be inside or outside of the US when this form is submitted. For example, a person who has overstayed his visa, although in the country, would need this form if he ever wanted to adjust his status so that his presence becomes legal. The individual’s location will determine where the I-601 waiver should go. The USCIS provides a chart outlining the appropriate location for people in the US. Those who are outside should submit the I-601 waiver at the US Embassy where they are attempting to get a visa.

It is possible that an individual could be deemed inadmissible on multiple grounds. The I-601 waiver allows that person to address them all within a single application. The USCIS warns, however, that a waiver, if granted, will apply only to the grounds listed on the form. If a person does not include all of his grounds of inadmissibility, those that were excluded will continue to hinder his efforts.

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