Chicago Law Office of Christine Contreras

What You Should Know Before Filing a Waiver

“Inadmissible” is a hard thing to be called, no matter what the circumstance. When it appears on your application process for Lawful permanent residence, it can feel devastating. Let that feeling pass, you have options.

Waivers for unlawful presence, smuggling, criminal offenses, and fraud are possible. First you have to determine your circumstance and eligibility, then fulfill requirements and fees, and then await a decision. We will highlight the process here, but for help along the way, reach out to a qualified immigration attorney.

Are You Eligible for a Waiver?

Generally, you are eligible for a waiver based on your circumstances and the lawful status of your family members. If you have family members (qualifying relatives) who will experience extreme hardship, and you can demonstrate this, you may be eligible for waiver of inadmissibility. If you are submitting a waiver based on criminal offenses, the offense and the time since the offense will affect your eligibility.

You are not typically eligible for a waiver against controlled substances; however if the substance was Marijuana, less than 30 grams, and a single offense, you may be eligible. USCIS will consider several criteria for any waiver or status application:

  1. How long have you lived in the US? (Lawful and otherwise)
  2. Have you been convicted of any crimes? What is the severity of those crimes?
  3. What is your immigration history?
  4. Your family’s circumstances, what ties do you have that reside here? (Lawful or otherwise)
  5. Will your family (your qualifying relative) suffer hardship without you?
  6. Is it likely you will seek lawful permanent residence?

These are general touchstones to assess your eligibility, but USCIS is selective and precise with applications and expectations. You should definitely seek legal counsel throughout this process to ensure you and your family understand what these exceptions entail and what your applications for waiver must demonstrate to be successful.

With the steepness of the fees involved, you will want to double check your eligibility and requirements with a legal representative.

Evidence for Demonstrations of Hardship

Overall for any application you will need to submit several documents to demonstrate your eligibility. Your documents will most likely include:

  1. Affidavits from you or other individuals. These will likely need to be notarized.
  2. Police records and court documents from any place you have lived and any charges you have faced
  3. Rehabilitation documents, if necessary
  4. Any additional evidence you wish to demonstrate security and safety
  5. Medical reports
  6. Hardship evidence

For most applications, evidence will need to be submitted documenting extreme hardship. There are factors that USCIS considers when assessing hardship, and there are commonly used documents to provide evidence of hardship. USCIS will consider hardship in context with:

  1. Health
  2. Financial Consideration and future employability
  3. Education and opportunity
  4. Personal Considerations, including family ties and proximity to original country
  5. Other special factors like language, religion, persecution, safety, etc.

Next are several examples of documents to submit to establish hardship. These documents include, but are not limited to:

  1. Affidavits from relatives who have witnessed or experienced the hardship
  2. Expert opinions and documentation
  3. Financial evidence including employment or business, payroll, paystubs, tax information, etc.
  4. Mortgages, rentals, car payments, and loans
  5. Any evidence of financial hardships
  6. Medical records and bills
  7. Community representation documents
  8. Birth and Death records
  9. Country-condition reports

Once your application is complete, you will need to submit the application, the proper fee (do NOT pay cash), and any supporting evidence.

How long does it take?

There is no standard timeline for these applications, so expect it to take some time. Documents will need to be reviewed. You will need to be vigilant and open with your communication, which is why you must have a dedicated and accurate mailing address. If you are concerned about eligibility and how to file, do not hesitate to reach out to us!