I-601 (Unlawful Presence) Waivers

What is an I-601A Waiver?

The spouses, sons and daughters of U.S. citizens who have accrued more than 180 days of “unlawful presence” in the United States, and have to leave the country as part of the legal immigration process, are barred from returning to their families for as long as 3 or 10 years. But they might be eligible to receive a “waiver” to allow them to return to their families by providing evidence that their U.S. citizen family member would face “extreme hardship” as a result of the separation. The way to get that waiver is to file, with supporting evidence, a Form I-601A.

Fiance Visa (K-1)


First, the U.S. citizen must file a petition, Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé (e), with the USCIS Service Center having jurisdiction over the place of the petitioner’s residence in the United States. Such petitions may not be adjudicated abroad. USCIS will forward the approved petition to the U.S. consulate where the foreign national’s fiancé (e) will apply for the visa. A petition is valid for four months from the date of USCIS action, and may be revalidated by the consular officer.

V Visa

Due to processing delays and quota backlogs, husbands, wives and children of permanent residents often wait five to six years abroad to get their immigrant visas. On December 21, 2002, Congress passed the Legal Immigration and Family Equity Act (LIFE) with the intention of bringing families together. While many wait in their country, separated from spouses and parents, many others are in the U.S. without lawful status and unable to work.

K-3 Visa

On December 21, 2002, the Legal Immigration and Family Equity Act (LIFE) extended K visa benefits to the spouse and unmarried minor children of U.S. citizens by creating the new K3 visa, which allows spouses and unmarried minor children of U.S. citizens to live and work in the United States while waiting to get their permanent residence status. Prior to LIFE, the K visa was only available to the fiancé of a U.S. citizen and his children.

Adjustment of Status

Adjustment of status is the process used by a foreign national who is physically present in the United States to become a lawful permanent resident (“LPR”). Adjustment of status (“AOS”) is an alternative to obtaining an immigrant visa through a U.S. consulate abroad, a process known as consular processing. Depending on the backlog at USCIS service centers, adjustment of status may be preferred by foreign nationals over consular processing because (1) it avoids the expense and inconvenience of travel back to the home country, (2) AOS applicants, including immediate family members, are entitled to employment authorization and permission to travel while the AOS application is pending, (3) employment-based AOS applicants receive job mobility benefits provided under recent legislation, and (4) there are more options for reconsideration of an unfavorable decision by USCIS.

Consular Processing

This section deals with a foreign national’s ability to obtain immigrant and nonimmigrant visas at U.S. consular posts abroad. In order to avoid potential problems or delays associated with the issuance of a visa, one should be familiar with the relevant sections of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), the regulations of USCIS and Department of State (DOS), the DOS Foreign Affairs Manual, and the most recent cables from the DOS Visa Office and the specific consulate’s internal policies and procedures. An experienced immigration attorney can assist you with these rules.

Violence Against Women Act

The Violence Against Women Act allows spouses and children of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents (LPRs) to self-petition to obtain a green card. VAWA allows certain battered immigrants to self-petition without the abuser’s assistance. In order to qualify, an immigrant must have been battered or subject to extreme cruelty by the U.S. citizen or LPR spouse during the marriage or be the parent of a child who was battered or subjected to extreme cruelty by the U.S citizen or LPR spouse.

Same-Sex Marriage

Gay and Lesbian Couples Can Now File for Green Card Petition

In the ruling, the Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) that denied same-sex married couples federal immigration benefits.

Secretary of State John Kerry issued a statement following the Windsor decision, vowing “to fully implement the requirements and implications of the Court’s decision, we will work with the Department of Justice and other agencies to review all relevant federal statutes as well as the benefits administered by this agency.” The United States v. Windsor decision enabled United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) to start approving green card petitions for members of same-sex couples living in the U.S. or abroad.

Experienced Attorneys Supporting Immigration Services

If you’re looking for a way to connect with a law firm, scheduling a call may be the best option for you. You can talk to a representative about your specific legal needs, and you can get an idea of what the process of hiring a lawyer might look like. Plus, by scheduling a call, you can avoid any potential surprises or delays in the process.