Waiving Inadmissibility Due to Aggravated Felonies: I-601 Waiver


The I-601 Waiver, also known as the Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility, plays a crucial role in U.S. immigration law, particularly for individuals who have been deemed inadmissible due to aggravated felonies. This waiver is an essential tool for overcoming certain grounds of inadmissibility, allowing eligible individuals to pursue a path towards legal status in the United States.

Understanding Aggravated Felonies


An aggravated felony, in the context of U.S. immigration law, encompasses a broad range of criminal offenses. These offenses are deemed particularly severe and include crimes such as murder, rape, drug trafficking, and various forms of fraud.

Crime TypeExamples
Violent OffensesMurder, Rape
Drug-Related OffensesDrug Trafficking
Fraudulent ActivitiesTax Evasion, Money Laundering

Impact on Immigration Status

Individuals convicted of an aggravated felony face severe immigration consequences, including deportation and inadmissibility. This status significantly hinders their ability to obtain visas, green cards, or citizenship in the United States.

The I-601 Waiver: A Path to Overcoming Inadmissibility

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for an I-601 waiver, applicants must meet specific criteria:

  1. Qualifying Relatives: The applicant must have a qualifying relative who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. This can include spouses, parents, or children.
  2. Extreme Hardship: Demonstrating that their inadmissibility would cause extreme hardship to their qualifying relatives.

Application Process

The process of applying for an I-601 waiver involves several steps:

  1. Filing the Form I-601: The primary step involves completing and submitting the form I-601.
  2. Providing Evidence: Applicants must provide substantial evidence supporting their claim of extreme hardship to their qualifying relatives.
  3. Legal Representation: It is often beneficial to have legal representation to navigate the complex immigration laws and provide adequate support throughout the application process.

Factors Considered by USCIS

When evaluating an I-601 waiver application, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) considers various factors:

  • The severity and nature of the criminal offense.
  • The applicant’s overall character and behavior since the offense.
  • The degree of hardship that would be caused to the qualifying relatives.

Example Scenario

Case Study: Juan

Juan, a 40-year-old native of Colombia, has lived in the U.S. for 15 years. He is married to a U.S. citizen and has two U.S.-born children. Juan was convicted of a drug-related offense, classified as an aggravated felony, ten years ago. Since his release, Juan has shown exemplary behavior, including community service and steady employment.

Juan’s wife suffers from a medical condition that requires constant care and attention, which Juan provides. If Juan were deported, his wife’s health would significantly deteriorate due to the lack of adequate care and emotional support.

In Juan’s case, filing an I-601 waiver citing extreme hardship to his U.S. citizen wife and children could be a viable path to challenge his inadmissibility. His positive post-conviction behavior and the critical role he plays in his family’s well-being would be crucial elements of his application.


The I-601 waiver is a critical mechanism in U.S. immigration law, offering a lifeline to individuals deemed inadmissible due to aggravated felonies. While the process is complex and challenging, with the right criteria and a compelling case, it presents a viable option for overcoming the barriers to legal status in the U.S. It is always recommended to seek professional legal advice to navigate the intricacies of immigration law and the I-601 waiver application process.

  1. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. (2020). Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility. Retrieved from www.uscis.gov
    • Summary: Discusses the I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility, including the vacating of the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds final rule by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois​​.
  2. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. (n.d.). Application for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver. Retrieved from www.uscis.gov
    • Summary: Details the I-601A, Application for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver, for certain immigrant visa applicants who are relatives of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents​​.
  3. ImmigrationHelp.org. (n.d.). Forms I-601 & I-601A: How To Apply for a Waiver of Inadmissibility. Retrieved from www.immigrationhelp.org
    • Summary: Provides guidance on using Form I-601 and I-601A for applying for a waiver of inadmissibility, specifically for those declared ineligible for an immigrant visa or nonimmigrant K or V visa​​.
  4. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. (2012). Centralized Filing and Adjudication for Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility. Retrieved from www.uscis.gov
    • Summary: Explains the procedure initiated in 2012 for immigrant visa applicants applying for a waiver of a ground of inadmissibility from outside the United States to file Form I-601 with a USCIS domestic Lockbox facility​​.
  5. U.S. Departmen
    • Summary: Describes a roundtable discussion on the current standards and processes for adjudication of Forms I-601, highlighting the legal requirements, recent changes in processing, and challenges from both government and stakeholder perspectives​​.