Did You Enter the Country Without a Visa?
The good news is that you may be able to get your green card! Lively Law Firm has successfully obtained green cards for many people in your exact same situation.
In 2013 the Department of Homeland Security issued a new regulation that allows immediate family members of U.S. Citizens who entered the United States without a visa to apply for a waiver (called a 601A waiver) while they are in the United States.
What Does That Mean?
It means that if you meet the necessary criteria you will be able to apply for and obtain your green card and only have to depart the United States for a week or less. It also means that you do not have to depart the United States until your waiver is approved. You can continue to live in the United States, support your family, and only leave once you are sure that your waiver has been approved.
How Do I Qualify for the 601a Waiver?
If you meet the following criteria you are eligible to submit a 601A waiver:
- You are physically present in the United States;
- You are at least 17 years of age at the time of filing;
- You have an immigrant visa case pending with the Department of States (this usually means that you have submitted Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative and it has been approved. If you haven’t submitted your Form I-130 — don’t worry! Lively Law Firm can submit your Form I-130 for you);
- You have a U.S. Citizen or Legal Permanent Resident spouse or parents; and
- Your family members would suffer hardship if you were forced to depart the United States and wait ten years to come back in.
How Does It Work Exactly?
Immigration law is complex and each case is unique — just as your family is unique. But, generally speaking this is how you apply for a 601A waiver. You will first file your marriage petition (Form I-130). You will need to prove to USCIS that your marriage is legitimate. This involves submitting your birth certificates, marriage certificates, and an interview with USCIS. Processing times can vary based on location and backlog of USCIS but typically this step takes about 6-9 months. Once the petition is approved you move on to the second stage.
The second stage is preparing and submitting your 601A waiver. To prepare this waiver Lively Law Firm needs to get to know you and your family. Part of this process is to discuss with you and your family any hardship that they would suffer in the following categories:
- Mental Health
- Family History
- Professional Development
- Country Specific Concerns
Lively Law Firm will then create a unique document checklist for you and your family. We will need to gather as many documents as necessary to tell the story of you and your family. We then submit the waiver to USCIS. Processing times can vary but are generally very long. The typical processing time for an approval is one (1) year. During this time, you continue to live with your family in the United States.
Lastly, once the 601A waiver is approved — remember, if it isn’t approved you don’t have to leave the United States! You will be scheduled for an interview at the consulate in your country. You depart the United States, obtain a medical exam in your home country, attend your interview, and return to the United States. Typically, clients are outside of the United States for no more than one (1) week.
Once you enter the United States your green card is mailed to you and you are now a Legal Permanent Resident!
What Happens if I’m Denied?
If you are denied you do not have to leave the United States. You can try again! The best part of the 601A waiver is that if you are denied you do not receive a deportation order. Lively Law Firm has had a lot of success with these types of waivers but it is possible to receive a denial.
If you get denied, we simply gather more documentation and resubmit your waiver. It prolongs the process but does not mean you won’t get your green card still.
Do I Qualify for the 601a Waiver if I’m in Removal Proceedings?
If you have a case before the Immigration Court in North Carolina you can still apply for the 601A waiver. There is just an extra step. You have to apply for something that’s called “administrative closure.” If the court grants this administrative closure you proceed to submit your 601A waiver just like if you were not in removal proceedings.
This type of case can involve a lot of expertise and experience in front of the Immigration Court. You should not do this alone. Getting an experienced immigration attorney could be the difference between a deportation order (and years away from your family) or a green card (and only one week away from your family). The investment is worth it!
How Should You Prepare?
If you meet the above-listed requirements you are eligible for a 601A waiver now! Contact Lively Law Firm so we can get started immediately. As you read above, the process is much simpler if you are not in removal proceedings so you want to apply before you have any contact without ICE.
If you are in removal proceedings already you need to request that the Court administratively close your case as soon as possible. Court won’t wait forever and you need to take action!
You should gather basic biographical documents and any proof of hardship that your family may experience if you are forced to wait outside the United States for ten years.
If you or a loved one believe that you may qualify for a 601A waiver please call or send a text message to Lively Law Firm for a free consultation at (980) 332-2225. Start your path to a green card today