I 601A Waivers
Author: Kaushik Ranchod
A consultation in our offices at Sacramento recently addressed the issue of criminal convictions and I-601A Waivers
I 601A Waivers and Criminal Convictions
If you are applying for a provisional unlawful presence waiver (Form I-601A), you will be asked to provide information about your past criminal convictions. You may hesitate to list your criminal past, but you should be honest when completing the form. You should also know that just because you have a past conviction, this does not automatically mean that you will be ineligible for the waiver.
Crimes That May Make You Inadmissible
If you have been convicted of certain serious crimes, you may be deemed inadmissible into the U.S. (not eligible for the waiver and green card/immigrant visa) Some broad categories of crimes that may make you inadmissible include:
- Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude. This can include crimes like murder, rape, child abuse, blackmail, and fraud, etc.
- Aggravated Felonies. This can include a variety of felonies like drug trafficking, money laundering, firearm offenses, tax evasion, etc.
- Crimes Affecting Moral Character. This can include prostitution and other vices, assisting an alien to enter the U.S. illegally, drug and other offenses.
The USCIS has also stated that if it has reason to believe that an alien may be inadmissible to the U.S. at the time of his or her immigrant visa interview based on another ground of inadmissibility other than unlawful presence (such as a criminal conviction), the agency will deny the request for the provisional unlawful presence waiver.
Therefore, if you have a criminal conviction, you may want to talk to an attorney to learn if the I-601A waiver is available to you. Instead, you may need to apply for an I-601 waiver. The new I-601A waiver is only available for applicants who seek a waiver from a bar to reentry from having accrued unlawful time in the U.S. as opposed to criminal bars.
Minor Crimes That Do Not Affect Admissibility
Not all criminal convictions may make you inadmissible. If you are not subject to a criminal bar, you may still apply for a provisional unlawful presence waiver using Form I-601A. For example, some relatively minor crimes like a simple assault or other misdemeanor may not create a criminal bar.
The USCIS uses the Form I-601A to determine admissibility as it relates to unlawful presence in the U.S. and not past criminal convictions. So it is not entirely clear how the USCIS will use information regarding criminal convictions. But if the past criminal record would otherwise make you inadmissible, it is clear that the agency may deny the provisional unlawful presence waiver on this ground.
The Ranchod Law Group
8880 Cal Center Drive #400