Do Criminal Convictions Affect I-601A Waivers?

I-601A Waivers and Criminal Convictions

A consultation in our offices at Sacramento recently addressed the issue of 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 this does not automatically mean that you will be ineligible for the Waiver just because you have a past conviction.

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. Such crimes can include murder, rape, child abuse, blackmail, fraud, and so on.
  • Aggravated Felonies. I refer to felonies such as drug trafficking, money laundering, firearm offenses, tax evasion, to name a few of the most important categories.
  • Crimes Affecting Moral Character. Such crimes may include prostitution and other vices, assisting an alien to enter the U.S. illegally, drug, and other offenses.

The USCIS has also stated that it will deny the request for the Waiver 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. The denial can be based on other grounds of inadmissibility other than unlawful presence (such as a criminal conviction), the agency.

Therefore, if you have a criminal conviction, you may want to talk to an immigration 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 seeking a Waiver from a bar to reentry from having accrued unlawful time in the U.S. instead of 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 Waiver using Form I-601A. For example, some relatively minor crimes like a simple assault or other misdemeanors may not create a criminal bar.
The USCIS uses Form I-601A to determine admissibility related 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 Waiver on this ground.

Related Information on I-601A Hardship Waivers

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