On March 18, 2014, USCIS announced that it would be reopening all I-601A waiver applications that were denied prior to January 24, 2014, if the denials were based solely because of a prior criminal offense committed by the applicant. An I-601A waiver is a process whereby a person that needs a waiver of the 10-year bar to immigration can have her case pre-adjudicated before leaving the U.S. In most cases, the applicant entered the U.S. without inspection and is now married to a U.S. citizen.
USCIS had taken the position that any criminal offense in the applicant’s record would make her ineligible for the I-601A waiver process. However, now USCIS will reopen these cases and analyze the criminal offense to determine whether there is “reason to believe” that it will render the applicant inadmissible.
USCIS indicated that offenses that fall under the petty offense or youthful offender exception or are not crimes involving moral turpitude will not meet the “reason to believe” standard. In other words, these criminal offenses should not be the sole basis for an I-601A denial.
USCIS will notify you and your attorney or legal representative of that your case has been reopened within 60 days. If you believe that your case should be reopened and have not heard within 60 days from March 18, 2014, you should notify your attorney. We are reviewing our cases and tracking the reopening process.
Just because your case is reopened does not mean it will be approved. USCIS will review the facts to determine if the waiver should be approved based on your specific circumstanced and notify you of its decision or request additional evidence.
If you have been waiting to file an I-601A waiver because of a criminal offense of the type that is no longer disqualifying, the USCIS announcement means that you should re-consider filing. We strongly suggest you consult with competent immigration counsel before making the decision to file.