The Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA) mandates that certain aliens are either inadmissible or removable (deportable) from the United States (U.S.) if certain legal grounds apply. Inadmissible or deportable aliens could be lawful permanent residents (LPRs) or non-LPRs. It is crucial to determine whether an alien is inadmissible or deportable because INA dedicates different chapters and rules to these two categories. Indeed, the relief available for the alien depends on whether he/she is inadmissible or deportable. Immigration waivers are some forms of relief available to inadmissible and deportable aliens. It is fair to define an immigration waiver as an immigration pardon that, if successful, allows the alien to remain in the U.S. INA provides several types of waivers that may be applicable depending on the inadmissibility or removability reason and the facts of the case.
In practice, most waivers are used when the alien is inadmissible or deportable because she/he was convicted of a criminal offense, although there are waivers for other grounds of inadmissibility or deportability. Not all criminal convictions, however, allow the alien to apply for a waiver. For instance, criminal convictions for aggravated felonies, terrorism, and certain domestic violence cases, among others, do not allow an alien to apply for an immigration waiver. To qualify for a waiver, certain requirements apply such as length of physical presence in the U.S., and the existence of a qualifying family member –usually spouse, parents, or children. It is important to consult an immigration attorney to help you determine whether you may qualify for an immigration waiver. The best advice is to get the help of an immigration attorney at the beginning of the criminal case. That way, the immigration attorney can help the criminal law attorney determine a plea that may bring the least immigration consequence for the alien if he/she is convicted of the crime.
Immigration waivers are presented before Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) when the person is applying for adjustment of status, or before the immigration judge when the alien is in removal proceedings. Depending on the type of waiver requested, the alien has to fill out a CIS form, attach payment, and enclose the evidence that proves the availability of the waiver for that particular alien. Waivers may also be filed at the U.S. consular office abroad. If the application for a waiver is successful, the alien is admitted to the U.S. or its deportation waived. Most immigration waivers can only be applied once. Thus, those who were already conferred the benefit of an immigration waiver must abstain of committing any other offense that may render them inadmissible or deportable because there may not be a second chance.
Immigration attorney Martha L. Arias can advice and represent you in your petition for an immigration waiver before CIS or the immigration court. You may also contact our office once you have been indicted. Attorney Martha L. Arias works closely with a criminal law attorney that may help you with your criminal law case. In this way, your immigration case will be handled appropriately before you are even convicted of a crime.