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):
      P.O. Box 4599
      Chicago, IL 60680
    • For FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries:
      Attn: I-601A
      131 S. Dearborn, 3rd Floor
      Chicago, IL 60680
  • Notify the National Visa Center (NVC) of your plan to seek a waiver of inadmissibility, by email at NVCi601a@state.gov.
  • 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.

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