Why You Probably Need an Immigration Lawyer to Secure an INA I-212 Waiver

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An INA I-212 waiver operates as a waiver of certain types of bars to re-entering the United States. If it is successful, you will have consent to reapply for a US visa from outside the United States. You might need an I-212 waiver if you are subject to one of the following circumstances, for example.

Section 212 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)

Under Section I-212(a)(9) of the INA, you can be subjected to a three-year bar, a five-year bar, a ten-year bar, a twenty-year bar, or even a permanent bar to re-entering the US for various reasons. A 3-year bar or a 10-year bar applies, for example, after you are deported for entering the country illegally after accruing over unlawful presence under Section I-212 (a)(9)(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

  • A 3-year bar applies to people who have accrued at least 180 days of unlawful presence.
  • A 10-year bar applies to people whose unlawful presence adds up to one year or more.

Limitations on the I-212 Waiver

Most of these bars can be lifted, or at least shortened, by filing a successful I-212 waiver application. Keep in mind that:

  • Time limits apply to filing Form I-212. If you were only deported once, for example, you may only file for an I-212 waiver after 10 years have passed since your deportation (unless a loophole applies). If you were deported twice, you may have to wait 20 years.
  • You can only file an I-212 waiver application from outside the US. Even if you are unlawfully present and facing removal proceedings, you will have to actually leave the country before you can apply for an I-212 waiver. If you are in the US and have been ordered removed, you still cannot apply for an I-212 waiver until you leave the US.
  • Eligibility to apply for an I-212 waiver does not guarantee that the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) will approve your waiver application and allow you to enter the US.
  • Since the I-212 grants you only consent to re-apply for admission to the US, approval of your I-212 application does not guarantee you the right to reenter (or even attempt to reenter) the United States after your last departure. You will need to obtain a US visa first.
  • You might be subject to another type of re-entry bar, for example, or your visa application might be turned down by a US consulate or embassy for a completely unrelated reason. Keep in mind that US consulates and embassies are operated by the Department of State, not the USCIS.

Types of Re-Entry Bars that Cannot Be Waived

Some bars to reentry are considered permanent bars that cannot be waived using I-212, depending on the grounds for imposing the bar in the first place. You probably cannot use Form I-212, Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission Into the United States After Deportation or Removal to waive a bar that is based on any of the following grounds:

  • You failed to appear at your removal hearing (which will cause you to be ordered removed from the United States).
  • You attempted to re-enter the United States, even at a legal US port of entry, during a specified period of time — within 10 years of being removed from the US or within 20 years of a second removal. In this case, you could be immediately deported by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
  • You were convicted of an aggravated felony — drug trafficking, for example
  • Other specified grounds.

If you are subject to a re-entry bar based on any of the foregoing grounds, you might be permanently inadmissible to the United States. You will definitely need the skill of an experienced immigration attorney to help you obtain consent to reapply for admission into the United States — and there are no guarantees.

Filing Form I-212: Supporting Documentation

In addition to Form I-212, Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission Into the United States After Deportation or Removal, you will need certain supporting documentation, such as:

  • Proof that you would be eligible to apply for a US visa if your I-212 application was approved.
  • Approved Form I-601 or Form I-601a (under certain circumstances)
  • Affidavits attesting to your good moral character (optional in most cases).
  • Medical records.
  • Police clearance certificates showing that you have not committed a crime during the period covered by the certificate (the last 10 years, for example).
  • Evidence of financial hardship that would be suffered by your US family if you are forced to abandon the immigration process without being admitted to the US.
  • Employment records.
  • Professional qualifications.
  • Tax returns.

How an Experienced Immigration Attorney Can Make All the Difference

Immigration is not a DIY project — problems may surface in your application that you don’t recognize until you receive a rejection from the USCIS. Following are some of the ways in which a skilled immigration attorney can help you maximize your chances of success:

  • Advising you on whether you should even bother filing an I-212 application. These are several possible reasons why an I-212 waiver might not be the best course of action for you, depending on your circumstances. You might need an I-601 waiver or an I-601a waiver instead, for example.
  • Discovering that you don’t need an I-212 waiver, even though you thought you did. You might not need an I-212 waiver, for example, if you received “voluntary departure” from the United States in lieu of deportation, and you left the US in compliance with its terms.
  • Filing Form I-212 and preparing supporting documentation.
  • Helping you prepare affidavits that might buttress your case.
  • Creating a legal brief that summarizes your claim and states the most persuasive possible case.
  • Preparing a response to a Request for Evidence (RFE).
  • Helping you keep up with the changes in immigration law and visa policy that are occurring almost daily these days, especially in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis.
  • Helping you apply for a US visa at a US consulate or embassy after your I-212 waiver is granted. US visa applications can be tricky, especially if you intend to file for an immigrant visa with the intention of eventually obtaining a US green card.

If you plan on seeking an I-212 waiver, do your best to learn as much as you can about waivers, and about the US visa you eventually intend to apply for. The more you understand how your waiver and visa applications work, the more you and your immigration lawyer can work together for a successful resolution of your application.

Herman Legal Group, LLC: One of the Nation’s Top Immigration Law Firms

At Herman Legal Group, we pride ourselves on our professionalism and on our ethical approach to every case we take. Our philosophy is to treat each case individually and to collaborate as a team to win together. WHerman Legal Group, LLC was founded in 1995 by Richard Herman. At that time no one realized that he would become a nationally (and internationally) known immigration attorney. Since then Herman Legal Group has been featured in the New York Times, Forbes, USA Today, and other national media outlets. Meanwhile, Mr. Herman has served as a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and other prominent publications.

This isn’t all just hype. In 2016, for example, the U.S. News & World Report awarded Herman Legal Group the designation “Best Law Firm” in immigration law. Meanwhile, our staff members speak a dozen of the world’s major languages, and we have helped thousands upon thousands of people obtain a multitude of immigration benefits such as permanent residence and US citizenship.

Contact Us Today

If you need help securing a waiver of a re-entry bar, Herman Legal Group can help. The sooner you seek our immigration services, the more we can help you. Contact us anytime 24/7 by calling (+1) (800) 808-4013 or (+1)(614) 300-1131, by filling out our online contact form, or by visiting one of our offices. Our lawyers are fully qualified to practice US immigration law on behalf of clients located anywhere in the world.

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