How Long Does an I-601 Visa Take to Process?

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Certain immigrants are considered “inadmissible,” which typically results in them being denied admission into the country or provides grounds to have them removed from the country. However, some immigrants can still be legally admitted to the country if they can have their grounds for inadmissibility waived through an I-601 application. The processing time for this type of immigration relief varies by applicant.

General Information on I-601 Waivers

If an immigrant is denied a visa or another type of immigration benefit, he or she may be able to resolve this problem through an I-601 waiver, if he or she meets the stringent guidelines for this waiver. One requirement that must be met is for the immigrant to have a relative that is a United States citizen or lawful permanent resident.

The waiver states the reasons for inadmissibility and explains why these grounds should not prevent the immigration benefits. The applicant must demonstrate why his or her inadmissibility would cause an extreme hardship on the applicant’s qualifying relative.

Reasons for Inadmissibility

There may be a number of reasons why an immigrant is considered inadmissible. For example, he or she may have a communicable disease. He or she may have been convicted of a serious crime. He or she may be denied admission due to a current bar based on his or her former unlawful presence in the United States.

Grounds to Assert

I-601 waivers may assert a variety of grounds to establish extreme hardship. They should be based on the specific circumstances surrounding the applicant, his or her family and other factors. For example, the applicant may discuss how the qualifying relative has a serious illness and describe how the family member would suffer if the caregiver was removed. He or she may explain that the immigrant and his or her spouse have children together and inadmissibility would cause the parent to be left as a struggling single parent.

The immigrant may also describe mitigating factors involved in the grounds for inadmissibility. For example, if the immigrant was convicted of DUI, he or she may explain that he or she is in a treatment program and has not taken a drink since the incident.

I-601 waivers are reviewed by immigration agents. This involves a lot of discretionary power and subjective results. In addition to the factual basis, the immigrant should also include legal argument for why the waiver should be granted. Additionally, the immigrant may describe conditions in his or her home country to explain why the waiver should be granted.

Grounds that Cannot Be Waived

There are a number of grounds that cannot be waived by filing an I-601. It is important for immigrants to understand these limitations before embarking on this process.


I-601 waivers are discretionary in nature and may be denied. An immigrant can appeal a denial by filing a motion to reconsider. The immigrant may submit additional documentation to support his or her application.


If the I-601 waiver is for an immigrant who filed for a visa while outside the United States, an interview is usually required.

Processing Times

An applicant who files a Form I-601 has to wait for the application to be processed before he or she will receive a final decision. It often takes several months for this process to be completed. The USCIS posts average processing times based on the nearest service center so applicants and their families can have a better idea about how long they will likely have to wait.
If an appeal is made for a denial of the I-601, the Administrative Appeals Office handles it. This office also posts average processing times online.

Legal Assistance

The immigration process is complex. Immigrants who would like more information about filing for a waiver should consult with an experienced immigration lawyer who is knowledgeable on this process. The application may require substantial evidence to support the waiver request. An immigration lawyer can help guide immigrants throughout the process and advise them about their rights and options through each step of the process. He or she can take steps to ensure that the application is completed correctly and promptly. Additionally, he or she can add legal arguments to waiver applications to try to persuade the decision maker to grant the waiver request.

An immigration lawyer can also explain what a typical waiting time is for a waiver so the immigrant has a better understanding about what to expect. The immigration lawyer can base this estimate on the times that the local service center is realizing.


Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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