Introduction to Waiver Options for Green Card Applicants

When pursuing a green card in the United States, individuals with prior criminal offenses may face significant challenges. The immigration process can be complex, especially when criminal history is involved. However, there are waiver options available that can provide relief from deportation or inadmissibility. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the various waiver options for green card applicants with prior criminal offenses, providing definitions, explanations, and valuable insights based on my experience as an immigration and criminal defense attorney in New York and New Jersey.

Understanding the Basics

What is a Green Card?

A Green Card is a lawful permanent resident card that allows non-U.S. citizens to live and work in the United States indefinitely. This card is often the first step towards becoming a U.S. citizen, offering many of the same rights and benefits.

What is Inadmissibility?

Inadmissibility refers to the legal grounds on which an individual may be denied entry into the United States or denied an adjustment of status to a lawful permanent resident. This can include criminal offenses, health-related issues, and other factors that may pose a risk to the country.

What is Deportation?

Deportation is the formal removal of a non-U.S. citizen from the United States based on violations of immigration laws. Individuals who are deemed inadmissible or have committed crimes can face deportation proceedings.

Types of Criminal Offenses

Green card applicants may have committed various types of criminal offenses, which can impact their eligibility. These offenses can be categorized into:

Crimes of Moral Turpitude

Crimes of Moral Turpitude are offenses that involve dishonesty, fraud, or violent behavior and can lead to inadmissibility. Examples include theft, fraud, and assault.

Aggravated Felonies

Aggravated Felonies are more serious offenses, such as drug trafficking or violent crimes, that can result in deportation. These offenses are considered a significant threat to public safety.

Waiver Options

I-601 Waiver

The I-601 waiver is for individuals who are inadmissible due to criminal offenses. It requires demonstrating extreme hardship to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or parent. This waiver is often used by those with family ties in the United States.

I-212 Waiver

The I-212 waiver is for those who have been deported or removed and seek permission to reapply for admission to the United States. It allows individuals to overcome the consequences of a prior deportation.

Criminal Rehabilitation

Some individuals may be eligible for criminal rehabilitation, allowing them to overcome their criminal inadmissibility. This process typically involves showing that the individual has been rehabilitated and is not a threat to society.


Q: Can a person with a criminal record apply for a green card?

A: Yes, individuals with a criminal record can apply for a green card, but they may face challenges related to inadmissibility. However, waiver options exist to address these challenges.

Q: What is extreme hardship in the context of an I-601 waiver?

A: Extreme hardship typically refers to the significant and unusual suffering that a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or parent would experience if their family member were not allowed to remain in the United States.

Q: How long does the waiver application process take?

A: The processing time for waiver applications can vary widely, but it often takes several months to a year or more. It’s essential to consult with an immigration attorney for guidance.

Q: Can an immigration attorney help with waiver applications?

A: Yes, an experienced immigration attorney can provide invaluable assistance with waiver applications, ensuring that all necessary documents are submitted correctly and advocating for your case.

Q: Are there any guarantees that a waiver will be approved?

A: There are no guarantees in the immigration process, including waiver applications. Approval depends on various factors, including the strength of your case and the discretion of immigration officials.

Q: Where can I find more information about waiver options and immigration law?

A: For personalized guidance and assistance with waiver options and immigration law, visit Here, you can access valuable resources and connect with experienced immigration attorneys.


Navigating the immigration process with a prior criminal offense can be daunting, but there are waiver options available to help green card applicants overcome these challenges. Understanding the distinctions between different waiver types and seeking legal counsel are crucial steps in pursuing a successful application. For personalized guidance and assistance, visit, where you can access valuable resources and connect with experienced immigration attorneys.

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