Waivers For Crimes, Fraud and Unlawful Presence

In order for a person to obtain Lawful Permanent Residence (LPR Status) or other lawful entry into the U.S., he must be determined to be admissible to the United States. This means that he must not fall under one of the many grounds of inadmissibility-laws to keep out certain classes of aliens. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) specifies that persons who commit serious crimes, or commit fraud in seeking immigration benefits, are inadmissible and ineligible for lawful permanent residence. The law also bars lawful permanent residence in certain cases to those who have entered the U.S. unlawfully or have remained in the U.S. without permission.

If the USCIS has found that a person is inadmissible, often times he may seek permission from the USCIS to forgive or “waive” the grounds of inadmissibility. The USCIS provides these waivers to prevent the separation of families and to prevent the hardship that accompanies forced separation. Therefore proving hardship to close family members is key to preparing a successfully waiver application.

Waivers for fraud:
Persons who have been found to have committed misrepresentation or fraud in securing or attempting to secure a visa or other immigration benefit are ineligible for permanent residence or entry into the U.S. This covers persons who entered the U.S. with a different name or who filed an application for a visa or permanent residence that contained false information. However, a waiver/pardon is available to these individuals to forgive acts or fraud.

The waiver application is filed with the USCIS on form I-601. Along with the application and required filing fee, the applicant must include evidence proving that a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent spouse or parent would suffer what is termed extreme hardship if the waiver is not approved. Although the law does not define extreme hardship, it is generally defined as hardship that is beyond what a person would ordinarily suffer if separated from the applicant. Hardship can include financial hardship, physical hardship and emotional or psychological hardship or a combination of the three.

The USCIS is strict in its interpretation of extreme hardship and it demands that any waiver application be thoroughly documented with sufficient written or documentary evidence demonstrating the degree of hardship that would visit the relative if the applicant were not permitted to enter or remain in the United States. Mere separation of the family is not sufficient to prove extreme hardship.

Waivers for serious crime:
The Immigration and Nationality Act also provides for waivers for persons who have committed serious crimes or multiple misdemeanor crimes involving what is termed moral turpitude. Crimes such as prostitution, spousal abuse, theft, robbery and fraud are typically crimes of moral turpitude. Again the applicant must either demonstrate extreme hardship to his lawful permanent resident or U.S. citizen spouse or parent but it also permits the applicant to utilize extreme hardship to his son or daughter as a ground for a waiver. Besides demonstrating extreme hardship to a close relative, waivers for serious crimes may also be granted to persons who can demonstrate that the convictions took place more than fifteen years ago and that the applicant has rehabilitated and is no longer a threat to society.

It is recommended that persons found inadmissible and requiring a waiver seek the advice of an experienced immigration attorney because of the seriousness of the charges and the difficulty in preparing and submitting an approvable waiver application. At the Law Offices of Sturman & Associates, we have successfully prepared dozens of waiver applications waiving unlawful presence, criminal convictions as well as immigration fraud. Our success rate is among the highest in the U.S. because we carefully construct and prepare every application presenting the evidence in the strongest light and we possess the knowledge and decades of experience needed to excel.