Criminal Conviction Waivers
What is a criminal conviction immigration waiver?
Many criminal convictions can make you "inadmissible" which means that you can't receive an immigrant visa or obtain a green card through the adjustment of status process. You may be inadmissible even if:
- Your conviction was expunged
- You were under 18 years of age when convicted
- You participated in an alternative sentencing program
- Your conviction is for a misdemeanor
- You never spent any time in jail
A criminal immigration waiver basically forgives this type of inadmissibility and allows you to move forward with the immigration process.
The penalty for many convictions is severe - you will be permanently inadmissible to the United States. This is true even if you have strong family ties to the United States or are married to a United States citizen.
You should always check with an immigration lawyer to find out if a criminal conviction will be an issue in your immigration case.
Criminal Conviction Immigration Waiver Requirements
You may be able to overcome a permanent inadmissibility due to a criminal conviction if you receive a criminal immigration waiver. This waiver is not available for all criminal convictions. It is only available for criminal inadmissibility due to:
- Crimes involving moral turpitude (CIMT or CMT)
- A single offense of possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana
- Multiple criminal convictions
- Certain noncitizens who have asserted immunity from prosecution for serious criminal activity
To qualify for this type of waiver, most people must show “extreme hardship” to a United States citizen or permanent resident spouse, parent or child. But, there are some instances in which extreme hardship to a qualifying relative need not be shown, such as for the prostitution ground of inadmissibility or if the criminal activity occurred over 15 years ago.
In addition, people who have been convicted of a "violent or dangerous crime" may need to meet a heightened standard in order to qualify for this type of waiver.
Additional requirements also apply to certain permanent residents who may need to apply for a criminal immigration waiver.
If the extreme hardship case does apply to your situation, it can be very difficult to prove that you meet the extreme hardship standard. It isn't enough to show that it would be financially difficult or emotionally upsetting if you are separated from your family. You have to show that the hardship to your qualifying relative would be extreme compared to the hardship normally encountered in a family separation.
Most people will benefit from the assistance of an immigration lawyer in preparing their waiver application.
Criminal Conviction Waiver Costs
The costs involved in getting a criminal conviction waiver can be viewed in three groups: the required government filing fees, other required costs and attorney fees.
The required government filing fees are:
- $930 for the Form I-601 filing fee
The government filing fee must be submitted with the application. The fee can be paid by check or money order. You may also be able to pay the fee by credit card.
The other required costs that you should expect as part of the waiver process are:
- Translation costs – varies by the translator and type of documents being translated into English
- Supporting document costs – varies by what documents need to be obtained
Depending on whether you work with an immigration lawyer, you may also have attorney fees as part of the total costs of the process.
Not everyone who applies for an immigration waiver will need a lawyer to assist them with the process. You can learn more about whether you need a lawyer by reading the information on this website and by learning more about the role of an immigration lawyer in the immigration waiver process. If you decide to hire an immigration lawyer to assist you, the legal fees will vary by law firm and the complexity of the case.
How We Can Help With Your Criminal Conviction Waiver Application
You are not required to work with an immigration lawyer, but working with one can be very helpful and can help minimize the stress involved in the waiver application process.
Our immigration lawyer criminal conviction waiver services include the following:
- Explain the waiver process to you to help you decide if it is the best process for you
- Review your immigration history to make sure that you qualify for a criminal conviction waiver
- Research and resolve any special issues with your case to minimize the risk that your application will be denied
- Prepare all forms necessary for your application, including your I-601 form
- Pepare any legal letters or memos needed for your case
- Identify the supporting documents needed for your application
- Help identify your strongest hardship factors for your waiver application
- Assist with preparing any affidavits or declarations needed for your case, including the hardship letters
- Prepare and submit responses to any standard Requests for Evidence received from USCIS