You have all of the qualifications to get your green card. Unfortunately, grounds for inadmissibility could put your application at risk. Worse, you could expose yourself to deportation by filing documents for a green card while having grounds for inadmissibility. The good news is that you may be eligible for a waiver. A waiver of inadmissibility asks the government to, in essence, forgive your grounds for inadmissibility and allow you to legally enter and remain in the country.

Waiver of Inadmissibility for Green Card Applicants

The most common scenario is for the spouse of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident to apply for a waiver of inadmissibility to adjust status while in the United States. Alternatively, a spouse may be seeking entry from outside of the United States. If possible, do not leave the United States because you have more rights and privileges while on American soil, and you can remain with your family while applying for your waiver and adjustment of status. You cannot reenter the country to await a waiver decision if you have already departed.

Three and 10 Year Bar for Unlawful Presence

The three and 10 year bar refers to the time in which you are inadmissible because of your illegal presence in the United States. You remain inadmissible for three years if you accumulated more than 180 days, but less than one year of unlawful presence. You are inadmissible for 10 years if you were unlawfully in the U.S. for more than one year total. The bar is triggered by leaving the United States. You should, therefore, not leave the country for any reason, if possible, until your application to adjust status has been approved.

Extreme Hardship to Your Spouse

To be eligible for a waiver to enter the country, you must show that your exclusion poses an extreme hardship on your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse. The INA does not define what constitutes an extreme hardship, rather this threshold is decided on a case-by-case basis. To prove extreme hardship, you might include evidence of your financial support of your family, your childcare duties or your spouse’s illness. You might also submit evidence of mitigating circumstances, such as your parents brought you to the country as a young child or you believed you were in compliance with immigration laws.

Waiver of Inadmissibility for a Crime

The United States denies admission for commission of a crime. However, you may be eligible for a waiver for certain crimes, including prostitution, certain crimes of moral turpitude and a single drug offense that involved possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana. No waiver is available for aggravated felonies, murder or other drug offenses.

You must wait until at least 15 years since commission of the crime or prove that your U.S. citizen or permanent resident relative will suffer extreme hardship if you are denied admission to the United States. You can strengthen your application by proving you have committed no other crimes and are of no threat to U.S. security and safety.

Inadmissibility and the application for a waiver is complex. A qualified immigration attorney can analyze your grounds of inadmissibility and your eligibility for a waiver.

*The content and materials available via Ask Ellis are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice.

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