Where to File Hardship Waiver Applications

Written by Alexander J. Segal on

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Creation of the two separate regulatory systems for hardship waiver applications established recently by the Administration's promulgation of the Provisional Waiver regulations rendered many people confused as to where to file waiver applications for individuals who are NOT eligible for Provisional Waiver and intent to navigate the ordinary, well-established waiver rout. People are especially confused because they are routinely told now that the U.S. consulate posts do not accept waiver applications any longer. As recently as yesterday, I received a call from a person from Georgia who, sounding very frustrated, complained of this confusion.

Historically, that is for the last almost a decade or so and until very recently, the procedure had been that determination of whether an immigrant visa applicant was indeed inadmissible and thus warranted a waiver, was supposed to be formally made by the U.S. consulate in that person's country of residence. Once made, the applicant would be served with what is known as a rejection letter, stating that he or she were found inadmissible and that a waiver could be potentially available for that type of inadmissibility. The significance of this letter is hard to overstate. It is not so because it broke the bad news that the individual was found not desirable and thus could not be allowed into the United States. Instead, the letter would formally start the process of the waiver application. The waiver application would then need to be submitted at the same consulate and the fee paid there. The consulate responsibility then would be to transfer the application to the USCIS foreign post having jurisdictional power over adjudicationof the USCIS applications by residents of that country.

The situation has changed last year when USCIS announced that U.S. Department of State will no longer collect waiver applications. Instead, once rejection letter is received, the application along with the applicable fee would need to be forwarded to the USCIS designated processing facility inside there the United States. This change sparked a new procedure discussed in this blog entry and the confusion that ensured. Currently, aliens, who are abroad of the USA and are applying for immigrant or K or V non-immigrant visas to the USA, but are found ineligible by the Consular Officers, have a new and more streamlined way of obtaining waivers of inadmissibility. This change is not the same as the Provisional Waiver, and is distinct from it. Again, it only applies to individuals who are taking traditional rout and seeking waiver from abroad.

The waiver requests will now be sent to a Lockbox facility within the USA, and will be processed domestically. Although the policies and standards for adjudications will remain unchanged, this change is implemented to provide a more speedy and consistent adjudication of such waivers, and it will enable the USCIS to diminish the backlog of waiver applications. The applicants will be able to track the status of their applications online, at uscis web site [link] by using the website's Case Status window.

The filings for the following forms will be affected:

  • I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility
  • I-212. Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission in to the United States After Deportation of Removal
  • I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion, but only if referring to a denial of I-601 or I-212.

Addresses for the Lockbox facility:

For U.S. Postal Service:

USCIS
P.O. Box 21600
Phoenix, AZ 85036

For Express Mail and Courier Deliveries:

USCIS
ATTN: 601/212 Foreign Filers
1820 E. Skyharbor, Circle S, Suite 100
Phoenix, AZ 85034