The “I-601 Waiver for Green Card Holders with Criminal Convictions” is a critical topic in U.S. immigration law, particularly for those non-citizens seeking to adjust their status or maintain residency despite having a criminal record. This article delves into the complexities of the I-601 waiver, offering a comprehensive guide for understanding its application process, eligibility criteria, and the potential impact on green card holders with criminal convictions.

Overview of the I-601 Waiver

Purpose: The I-601 waiver, also known as the Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility, is a legal provision allowing certain non-citizens, including green card holders, to apply for forgiveness for specific grounds of inadmissibility to the United States. This waiver is particularly relevant for individuals who have been involved in criminal activities but seek to adjust their status or continue residing in the U.S.

Applicability: It is primarily used by individuals who are not U.S. citizens and have been convicted of certain crimes that make them inadmissible under U.S. immigration law.

Eligibility Criteria

To qualify for the I-601 waiver, applicants must meet specific criteria:

  1. Criminal Convictions: Not all criminal convictions are eligible for the waiver. Generally, it applies to offenses like fraud, misrepresentation, and certain crimes involving moral turpitude.
  2. Family Hardship: The applicant must demonstrate that denial of their stay in the U.S. would cause extreme hardship to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident who is a spouse, parent, or child.
  3. Admissibility: The waiver is applicable for individuals seeking admission to the U.S. as immigrants or adjustment of their status.

Application Process

  1. Form I-601 Filing: The waiver application begins with filing Form I-601.
  2. Supporting Documents: Applicants must provide evidence supporting their claims of hardship and rehabilitation.
  3. Fees and Processing Time: There are associated fees, and processing times vary depending on the individual case and USCIS workload.

Potential Impact on Green Card Holders

Green card holders with criminal convictions face unique challenges:

  • Deportation Risk: Criminal convictions can lead to deportation proceedings. An approved I-601 waiver can help in avoiding this outcome.
  • Status Adjustment: The waiver can aid in the process of adjusting the status for green card holders seeking citizenship.

Simplified Example

Consider a green card holder, Maria, convicted of a minor fraud offense. Maria has a U.S. citizen child with a medical condition requiring specialized treatment available only in the U.S. Applying for an I-601 waiver, Maria demonstrates that her deportation would cause extreme hardship to her child. Her waiver might be granted, considering her child’s dependency and the nature of her crime.

Table: Comparison of Eligible Convictions

Conviction TypeEligibility for I-601 WaiverNotes
Fraud/MisrepresentationGenerally EligibleSubject to proof of hardship
Crimes of Moral TurpitudeCase-by-Case BasisDepends on severity and circumstances
Drug OffensesGenerally IneligibleExceptions are rare


The I-601 Waiver presents a vital opportunity for green card holders with certain criminal convictions to avoid deportation and adjust their status. However, the process demands a comprehensive understanding of eligibility criteria, a well-prepared application, and often, the guidance of experienced legal professionals.

For personalized advice and assistance, it is always recommended to consult with an immigration attorney familiar with the nuances of the I-601 waiver process.

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