In order to obtain a nonimmigrant or immigrant visa, an alien must be admissible to the United States. If an alien is inadmissible, he or she must generally file a Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility. If an alien who would otherwise be inadmissible obtains a waiver of the applicable ground(s) of inadmissibility, he or she will be one large step closer to procuring lawful immigration status in the United States.
Due to the number of immigration applications handled by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), an applicant who files a Form I-601 or any other immigration form will have to wait for the application to be fully processed before receiving a final decision. For applicants who have filed a Form I-601 upon which their eligibility for lawful immigration status in the United States depends, not knowing how long the processing will take can be stressful. . Fortunately, the USCIS publishes statistics that may provide an applicant who filed a Form I-601 with a rough idea of when he or she can expect a final decision on the application.
Finding Average Processing Times
The USCIS posts average processing times for a variety of forms on its website. While average processing times do not guarantee that a given application will be processed by a specific date, they may give a form filer an idea of when his or her application will be adjudicated. In order to find the appropriate average processing time, the applicant must look up the USCIS Service Center or Office that is handling his or her application. For the Form I-601, the most recent average Form I-601 processing times (as of the date of this article) at the California Service Center, Nebraska Service Center, and Texas Service Center are 4 months from the date of filing.
Applicants for provisional unlawful presence waivers who filed the Form I-601A, Application for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver, must look up the average processing timeframes at the National Benefits Center (NBC). As of June 30, 2016, the NBC was processing cases initiated December 30, 2015.
The Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) handles appeals of Form I-601 denials outside of immigration proceedings. The AAO periodically posts its average case processing time information. As of July 1, 2016, the average case processing time for the appeal of the denial of a Form I-601 is 6 months or less.
An applicant for a waiver of inadmissibility should consult with an experienced immigration attorney. Depending on the waiver being sought, the applicant may have to offer substantial evidence demonstrating that he or she is eligible for a waiver. An experienced immigration attorney will not only be able to provide the applicant with professional guidance throughout the Form I-601 application process to insure that the application satisfies all requirements, but will also likely be able to give the applicant an idea of how long his or her waiver application process and broader visa application process may reasonably be expected to take. It is important to properly file the Form I-601 to ensure that it is accepted for processing at all. Where an applicant must file the Form I-601 will depend on the circumstances under which he or she is seeking relief. The applicant should carefully follow all of the instructions on the Form I-601 with the assistance of immigration counsel.