An understanding of I-601 Waivers begins with an understanding of IIRIRA (or IIRAIRA), which stands for Illegal Immigration Reform And Immigrant Responsibility Act) of 1996. One major change instituted by the IIRIRA was that unlawful entries were assigned varying penalties.
No bar from re-entry – if the individual stayed unlawfully for fewer than 180 days prior to departing the US
3 year bar from re-entry – if the individual stayed unlawfully for more than 180 days, but less than 1 yr or 365 days prior to leaving the country
10 year bar from re-entry – if the individual stayed unlawfully for more than 1 yr unlawfully prior to leaving the USA.
A permanent bar was given to individuals who entered without showing any documents or Entry-Without-Inspection (EWI), stayed over a year unlawfully, then left the USA, and then re-entered again unlawfully (EWI).
An I-601 waiver was created to dissolve certain bars and is most commonly used for the 3 and 10 year bars. If someone who had stayed unlawfully in the US was to get married to a US citizen or a Legal Permanent Resident (LPR or Green Card Holder), a showing of extreme-hardship to the LPR/USC spouse would grant the possible “waiver” of the 3 or 10 year bar. Additionally, USC or LPR parents may also apply for their sons or daughters to receive a waiver of these bars based on extreme hardship to the parent if the son or daughter would not be able to enter the country lawfully.
Often times the son or daughter or the immigrant spouse is in the US and has never left the country following the unlawful re-entry. In these cases, depending on how he or she entered the US, an immigration application could require that he or she go to the home country for the immigration interview. Departing the US would trigger these bars. For certain immigrants, who entered lawfully and have never left, an Adjustment of Status (I-485) may be a valid option.
Fraud or Misrepresentation waiver might be necessary for immigrants who entered with a valid visa, but have misrepresented information on the visa application, for example.
A criminal waiver might be necessary for an individual with a variety of crimes.
In situations where extreme hardship needs to be shown, the extreme hardship must be very thoroughly documented using financial documents, detailed affidavits, and other means of proof.
If you think that you qualify for an I-601 waiver, you must schedule an appointment right away to discuss the requirements and your options. I-601 waivers in Mexico have so far enjoyed a relatively high success rate, as have I-601 waivers in certain other countries. There is a way to win a waiver case as I have done many times in my career.