What is Form I 601A?
Since March 4th, 2013, qualified inadmissible immigrants have the option to file I-601A to request a waiver of unlawful presence in the United States and potentially receive a green card through family. Applicants are eligible as long as they meet the following criteria:
- Have relatives who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents who would suffer if the applicant is out of the country. Examples include relatives in the armed forces, relatives in medical treatment, and disabled relatives who require care.
- Be in the approval process of I-130 Petition for Alien Relative, I-140, Petition for Alien Worker, or I-360 Petition for Special Immigrant
- Be present in the U.S.
- Have spent 180 cumulative days in the U.S.
Additionally, on August 29th, 2016, the USCIS further changed the eligibility to applicants statutorily eligible for an immigrant visa and a waiver for inadmissibility for unlawful presence.
Expansion of the waiver application is a positive indication of more open U.S. immigration policy allowing families to be separated for a shorter duration during the immigration process. However, applicants should take note the benefits extend to only qualified applicants. Ineligible applicants must travel outside the U.S. to obtain a valid U.S. immigration visa. For applicants who have stayed in the U.S. for more than 180 cumulative days must obtain a waiver of inadmissibility under the section 212(a)(9)(B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
What are Form I-601A Instructions?
The filing fee is $630. For applicants under the age of 79, there is a mandatory biometrics service fee of $85. Applicants under certain financial circumstances can file a fee waiver form (I-912) to waive the filing and biometric fees. An example of valid circumstance is an individual living at or below 150% of federal poverty guidelines.
To file the application, mail a completed form with supporting documents to a USCIS lockbox facility in Chicago. The mailing address will vary depending on the postal carrier:
U.S. Postal Service (USPS)
P.O. Box 4599
Chicago, IL 60680
Commercial Postal Service
131 S. Dearborn, 3rd Floor
Chicago, IL 60603-5517
While an approved I-601A will shorten the time the applicant must be outside of the U.S., an approval does not guarantee a green card. Applicants must follow the immigrations steps to receive a green card through family. Furthermore, applicants must still leave the United States for a duration before entering the country again.
What is the Difference between I-601 and I-601A Forms?
Similar to I- 601, I-601A: Application For Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver is to waive the potential penalty for entering the United States without proper visas. However, there are few key differences between two forms. Applicants attempting the remove inadmissible status must use the correct petition form.
I-601: Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility
- Applicants must submit the form from outside of the United States.
- Applicants must wait for an approval outside of the U.S. Applicants are prohibited from entering the country. Those who enter the country without an approval may be subject to a deportation.
- Both U.S. citizens or permanent residents may be qualifying residents.
- Applicants may submit accompanying waivers with I-601. An example is a fee waiver form (I-912).
I-601A: Application For Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver
- Applicants must submit the form while staying in the United States.
- Applicants are permitted to reside in the U.S. during the decision process.
- Only U.S. citizens may be qualifying residents.
- Applicants must submit I-601A alone.