If you have accumulated six months of unlawful presence in the US, you will face a three-year bar from re-entering the US. If you have accumulated one year of unlawful presence, you could be barred from re-entering the US for ten years. The I-601A is designed to waive these bars if your inability to enter the US would cause undue hardship to a qualifying relative of yours who is a US citizen or permanent resident. Following is a step-by-step guide to obtaining a waiver.
Obtain approval of an immigrant visa petition filed on your behalf. This petition can be based on your family relationship to a qualifying relative who is a US citizen or permanent resident (Form I-130), a prospective employer (Form I-140) or a selection in the DV lottery. You may also self-petition under the Violent Against Women Act (VAWA) using the Form I-360.
Be sure to include all supporting documentation, because the USCIS can refuse your application without even giving you a chance to correct any oversight you may have made. If approved, your application will be sent to the National Visa Center.
The NVC will send you a letter requesting you to pay the applicable fees. These fees include the processing fee of $630, and a biometric processing fee of $85 (you are exempt from the biometric processing fee of you are at least 79 years old). You may also be requested to pay Affidavit of Support fees.
File Form I-601A with the USCIS at the Chicago Lockbox facility, at one of the below addresses:
U.S. Postal Service (USPS): USCIS P.O. Box 4599 Chicago, IL 60680
For FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries: USCIS Attn: I-601A 131 S. Dearborn, 3rd Floor Chicago, IL 60680
Wait four to six months for your I-601A application to be approved.
Complete Form DS-260 and submit it to Immigrant Visas.state.gov.
The NVC will schedule you for an immigrant interview after the USCIS approves your I-601A petition.
Schedule a medical exam overseas and make plans for your departure from the US.
Travel to the US embassy or consulate overseas where your interview is scheduled. Expect to spend about three weeks outside of the US.
Undergo a medical exam at a USCIS-approved facility. You will receive the results in a sealed envelope. DO NOT OPEN THE ENVELOPE OR BREAK THE SEAL.
Attend the interview and bring all requested documents with you to the interview. You will probably have to turn in your passport temporarily.
Within a week or so you should receive your passport in the mail along with a sealed envelope containing official documents. Do not open the envelope; instead, present it to immigration officials with your passport when you re-enter the US.
You will have four weeks after receiving your immigration visa to enter the US.
The I-601A I designed to waive only a bar based on unlawful presence in the US. Please note that your immigration visa could be denied if you have other immigration issues that could prevent you from re-entering the US (a serious criminal conviction for example). If you have immigration problems like thee, you might consider filing Form I-601, which could allow a waiver of at least some (but not all) of these grounds of inadmissibility.