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What is the Difference Between Form I-601 and Form I-601A Waivers?

Immigration concept. United States Permanent Resident with gavel and identification card

Both Forms I-601 and I-601A are requests for waivers from the United States immigration services. They are similar. For example, for each form, it must be shown that a U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse or parents (not children) will suffer "extreme hardship" if the requested waiver is not granted. But, the forms are different and each must be used by different categories of persons and for different reasons. Form I-601 is called an “Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility” and is often called a "hardship waiver" request. On the other hand, Form I-601A is called an "Application for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver." Here is a brief summary of the differences.


Generally speaking, to be eligible for permanent resident status through a “green card,” an applicant must meet the definition of “admissibility.” Approval for entry into the United States will be denied if there are grounds for inadmissibility which include:

  • Health reasons
  • Criminal conduct/behavior
  • National security reasons
  • Due to the likelihood of becoming a public charge
  • A lack of labor certification
  • Fraud or misrepresentations
  • Unlawful presence in the United States

What Can be Waived With Form I-601 and I-601A?

Form I-601 can be used as an attempt to waive ANY grounds of inadmissibility. By contrast, Form I-601A can ONLY be used as an attempt to waive inadmissibility based on unlawful presence. A common scenario would be if someone entered the United States without a visa and is physically in the United States with no status.

As noted on the list above, unlawful presence in the United States is grounds for inadmissibility. This means that, if a person is inadmissible and they leave the United States, they can be denied re-entry. Unlawful presence in the United States of six months to a year will trigger a three-year bar to entry/re-entry. Unlawful presence in the United States of more than a year will trigger a 10-year bar to entry/re-entry. Thus, Form I-601A is used by those in the United States seeking a waiver of their unlawful presence based on various grounds like extreme hardship.

When are the Forms Filed?

Form I-601 is filed with consular officials or with USCIS AFTER there has been a finding of inadmissibility. As the name of the Form indicates, Form I-601 is a request for waiver of one or more grounds of inadmissibility Form I-601 is filed AFTER a finding of inadmissibility. The timing is important because the reason(s) for inadmissibility only become known after a consular determination is made.

By contrast, Form I-601A can be filed while you are in the United States waiting for a consular interview. In fact, the purpose of the I-601A was to shorten the amount of time families are separated.

Where are the Forms Filed?

Both forms I-601 and I-601A must be filed with USCIS inside of the USA, regardless of whether your interview was with an embassy or with a USCIS office.

Contact Yekrangi & Associates Today

For more information, contact the Orange County Immigration Attorneys at Yekrangi & Associates today. You are not alone and we will fight for you. Yekrangi & Associates works to meet a higher standard. Our first goal is your satisfaction. Contact us at (949) 478-4963 to schedule a consultation or complete our convenient “Get Your Consultation” form here. We are located in Irvine, California.


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