If you’re not a United States citizen and want to come here to live, work, study, or visit for some time as a non-immigrant visitor, there are certain things you need to know before you make any plans. One of these is that for immigrant and non-immigrant applicants to be granted entry into the United States or obtain a visa while being in the country, they must first pass what’s known as the “admissibility” test.
Admissibility is a test of suitability. The immigration official who conducts your interview will look at your personal history and identify any factors that might make you inadmissible to the U.S.
For example, if you have been arrested or convicted of a crime; committed fraud; been affiliated with a group or organization which supports violence against others; used false documents; or been involved in drug trafficking or prostitution; you are likely to require public assistance; have been found guilty of violating immigration laws; or if you pose a security risk (such as through membership in terrorist organizations).
All these factors can make someone inadmissible to the U.S., so it’s essential to understand them before going to your visa interview.
Basics of the Waiver Process
A waiver is a paperwork that explains why a person is not inadmissible and requests permission to enter the United States despite the inadmissibility. An inadmissible person can apply for a waiver of inadmissibility to be admitted into the United States. The waiver process is complex and involves documentation, fees, and time-sensitive deadlines.
The process is also long and challenging, so it is best to start the waiver process immediately after identifying an inadmissibility issue. The waiver process begins when the inadmissible person files Forms such as I-212, I-601, or 601A.
Due to the complexity of the forms and process, it is advised to use an immigration attorney near you. Applying is not just filing a form. The applicant must apply with the proper documentation. However, applying does not guarantee that a waiver will be granted.
How to Find Out if You’re Inadmissible
The first step in determining if you are inadmissible is to list your past activities. This list should include any violations of U.S. immigration laws, criminal convictions, false documents, immigration violations, participation in any organizations that may be deemed unlawful, a risk to U.S. security, health issues, previous deportation, and any dependence on the state or federal government for subsistence, among others.
Next, you should research the grounds of inadmissibility listed above. A person may be inadmissible if he/she falls under any grounds of inadmissibility.
Visit Waivers of Inadmissibility for more information.
What Happens If You Are Found Inadmissible?
If you are found inadmissible, you will be denied entry to the United States. Your visa will not be approved. If you apply in the U.S., your immigrant or non-immigrant application will be denied. This means you cannot receive a visa as long as you remain inadmissible. If you try to come to the U.S. without permission, you could be arrested and charged with a federal crime. If you’re inadmissible because of a criminal conviction, you may be able to apply for a waiver of inadmissibility. But it’s important to act quickly – the waiver application process is complex and time-sensitive.
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Applying for a Waiver of Inadmissibility
According to USCIS, If you are inadmissible, you may still be eligible for a waiver. If you want to apply for a waiver of inadmissibility, you should consult with an attorney who specializes in immigration law. An attorney can help you determine if you are eligible for the waiver, prepare the necessary paperwork, and advise you on what additional information and evidence you must provide to support your case. The waiver application process is very complicated and can take many months.
Depending on the type of waiver, a person may file the waiver application with the United States and Immigration Services (USCIS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Consulate, Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), or a USCIS Field Office. The agency will review the application and will either approve or deny it. The applicant has a limited number of days to appeal the decision if the waiver is denied.
Other Options if a Waiver is not an Option
If you don’t want to file a waiver, you may still be able to come to the U.S. later. This method is called “waiting abroad.” It is a long and challenging process that often takes years to complete. If you wait abroad before applying again for a visa, you must remain outside the U.S. for many years. You also may decide not to come to the U.S. at all. Sometimes, if a waiver is not an option, you may be permanently inadmissible to obtain a U.S. visa.
The waiver process is complicated and time-sensitive, so you must consult with an immigration attorney near you as soon as you know you are inadmissible.
Your immigration attorney can help you determine if a waiver is appropriate, prepare the necessary paperwork, and advise you on what additional information and evidence you must provide to support your case.