USCIS today issued official guidance regarding I-601A provisional waiver applications by persons who have been convicted of a crime. USCIS had narrowly implemented the provisional waiver policy by finding that the denial of a provisional waiver was justified by the commission of any crime, regardless of whether the crime actually made the applicant “inadmissible” (unable to receive a visa for entry into the U.S.). So, for example, a single DUI conviction would have resulted in a provisional waiver denial even though the conviction would not trigger inadmissibility. This narrow interpretation led to a high denial rate and caused USCIS to begin reviewing the policy. In October 2013, USCIS set aside all pending applications involving a criminal conviction until it finished its review. Today’s guidance reverses the original interpretation. So long as the criminal conviction does not actually incur inadmissibility, USCIS should not deny the provisional waiver application merely because the conviction exists. As a result, applicants with minor crimes may be able to utilize the I-601A waiver process; consult with a knowledgeable immigration lawyer to verify eligibility.
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