Criminal Waivers for Immigration: What You Need to Know

If you have committed crimes in the past, the fact is that you are going to have a hard time applying for permanent residency in the United States. With that being said, the system does allow applicants to file a Waiver of Inadmissibility, Form I-601, in hopes that your criminal history can be explained in a way that does not prevent you from applying successfully.

Who Can Apply

If you are found inadmissible based on criminal grounds, you may seek a waiver of inadmissibility for the following:

  • A crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT). You are not inadmissible for having committed a CIMT, and do not need to file a waiver:
    • if the crime was a purely political offense;
    • if the crime was a CIMT but you committed only one CIMT, were under 18 years of age at the time you committed the crime and were released from any confinement to a prison or correctional institution imposed for the crime more than 5 years before application;
    • if the crime was a CIMT, but you committed only one CIMT, for which the maximum possible sentence is 1 year or less of imprisonment, and the actual sentence you received was 6 months or less.
  • A controlled substance violation related to a single offense of simple possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana.
  • Two or more convictions, other than purely political ones, for which the sentences to confinement were a total of five years or more.
  • Prostitution.
  • Unlawful commercialized vice whether or not related to prostitution.
  • Certain aliens involved in serious criminal activity who have asserted immunity from prosecution.

What You Need to Prove

With the application, you must establish one of the following:

  • If your crime was prostitution-related, that you have been rehabilitated and your admission to the United States will not be contrary to the national welfare, safety, or security.
  • At least 15 years have passed since the activity or event that makes you inadmissible, you have been rehabilitated, and your admission to the United States will not be contrary to the national welfare, safety, or security.
  • You are an approved VAWA self-petitioner.
  • Your qualifying U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident relative (spouse, son, daughter, parent), or K visa petitioner would experience extreme hardship if you were denied admission. Evidence of extreme hardship may include, but is not limited to:
    • Affidavits from the qualifying relative or other individuals with personal knowledge of the claimed hardships;
    • Expert opinions of emotional hardship;
    • Evidence of employment or business ties, such as payroll records or tax statements;
    • Evidence of monthly expenditures such as a mortgage, rental agreement, bills and invoices;
    • Other financial records supporting any claimed financial hardships;
    • Medical documentation and/or evaluations by medical professionals supporting any claimed medical hardships;
    • Records of membership in community organizations, volunteer confirmation, and evidence of cultural affiliations;
    • Birth, marriage, or adoption certificates supporting any claimed family ties;
    • Country-condition reports;
    • Any other evidence you believe supports the claimed hardships.

Evidence You Should Try to Provide

Depending on the type of waiver you seek, this information and evidence may include, but is not limited to:

  • Affidavits from you or other individuals;
  • Police reports from any country you lived in;
  • Complete court records about any conviction or charge from any country;
  • If applicable, evidence of rehabilitation;
  • Any evidence you may wish to submit to establish that your admission to the United States would not be against the national welfare, public safety, or national security;
  • Medical reports;
  • Evidence of family relationship to the party demonstrating hardship.

Waivers for inadmissibility, and particularly ones that are related to criminal activity, are particularly complicated applications. If there is any application that requires the services of a qualified immigration attorney, this is it.

If you find yourself in this situation, we have the experience necessary to give your application the best possible chance of success considering the circumstances. Contact us today to get started.