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What is an Immigration Waiver?

By A. Leverkuhn
Updated: May 17, 2024

An immigration waiver is a type of legal document that secures an individual’s right to immigrate outside of a commonly defined legal standard or policy for a country. A waiver, in a general sense, makes existing laws null and void for a particular case or event. Different kinds of immigration waivers provide for unusual immigration situations where a common law may not apply in the regular way.

One common kind of immigration waiver is a waiver of inadmissibility. Some legal professionals might also call this a hardship waiver. A waiver of inadmissibility qualifies some individuals to immigrate based on a range of situations. These can involve complex security issues, medical issues, or other special considerations. When an immigration waiver such as a waiver of inadmissibility is based on a medical issue, it may be referred to as a HIPAA waiver, or otherwise fall under the requirements of HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act that provides for the privacy of medical data.

A common kind of immigration waiver is an I-601, or Waiver for Grounds of Excludability, which involves proving extreme hardship. There's also the I-508, or Waiver of Rights, Privileges, Exemptions and Immunities. Other forms provide for Petition for Alien Fiance or other relationship based cases. These forms would apply to an immigrant from nearly anywhere in the world who is showing that there is a risk in returning to their home country, or that their relationship status entitles them to exclusion from deportation.

Another kind of immigration waiver is a visa waiver. The visa waiver lets individuals come to the country without the usually required visa. Thirty six countries around the world participate in a Visa Waiver Program where individuals may be able to visit another nation for up to 90 days without a visa. The United States is a participant in this program, which can make it hard to prosecute some kinds of illegal immigration cases. The visa waiver would apply to individuals from participating countries who want to travel to the U.S. for a visit without getting bogged down in paperwork.

In many different kinds of cases, lawyers might help their clients to secure an immigration waiver for long or short term visitation, or for permanent relocation to a country. Getting the right personal waiver documents is one way that people immigrate legally, as opposed to using existing waiver programs to enter a country and illegally stay there. As a complex area of the law, immigration has become something that many lawyers deal with in representing the interests of clients without full U.S. citizenship.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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