What is a 601A Provisional Waiver?

In March 2013, USCIS starting accepting what we call provisional waivers. Provisional waivers are a way to alleviate families having to be separated for a long period of time, leaving the United States without knowing whether or not they can come back. I need to explain it to you by going back a little bit and explaining immigration law. If you enter the United States illegally and have not filed an application before April 30, 2001, you are not eligible to apply to change your status. This is true even if you’re married to a United States citizen. You had spouses who were living in the United States, married with children, but could not legalize their status because years ago the foreign individual had entered the United States illegally.

President Obama saw that this was an issue and enacted provisional waivers. What a provisional waiver does is allow you to apply for the waiver before you leave the United States. Prior to provisional waivers, you would have to apply for a visa, return home to your country, then be denied a visa at the consulate, and then told that you need to apply for a waiver. The waiver could take as long as six months for a decision as to whether it was approved, and you could be outside the United States and your waiver could be denied, thereby separating you permanently from your family member. The provisional waiver allows you to go through the process, but apply for the waiver inside the United States and get a decision on the waiver before you leave.

Obviously, if the waiver was granted, you would go home and apply for your visa at the US Consulate. It should not take more than a few weeks or a month and then you would be able to return. If the provisional waiver is denied, then you stay in the United States, you don’t leave and you are no worse off than you were when you first consulted with an immigration lawyer or when you first made the application. Provisional waivers are not easy to get approved, but they are a good mechanism to legalize your status. Working with the right immigration lawyer will help you get the success that you need in having your family go home and come back to the United States with a successful green card.

Cheryl David is an attorney in NYC, experienced with immigration law. Please contact the office for your free initial consultation and answer any questions you may have pertaining to your case, or about immigration procedures in general.