If you are an asylee or refugee and are interested in applying for a green card, as noted here, you must show that you are admissible to the United States. If you believe that you may be considered inadmissible to the United States — based on a prior criminal conviction, for example — you may still qualify for a green card, but you will have to request a waiver of inadmissibility (I-602).
What grounds of inadmissibility can be waived?
For asylees and refugees, most grounds of inadmissibility can be waived, and in fact, some grounds of inadmissibility are automatically waived. These include being a public charge, entering the United States with the intent to work, and lacking a valid entry document. But there are some grounds of inadmissibility that cannot be waived. These include drug trafficking, terrorism, and other security-related grounds of inadmissibility. Although these sound serious, you likely already know if they apply to you, as they probably would have been raised when you first sought asylum or refugee status.
How to apply
If you are in removal proceedings, you may apply for a waiver of inadmissibility (and ultimately adjustment of status) as relief from removal. If you are not in proceedings, you may apply for a waiver of inadmissibility in conjunction with your application for a green card with USCIS.
The legal requirements for a waiver of inadmissibility for asylees and refugees (I-602)
To qualify for the waiver, you must show that the waiver should be granted for humanitarian purposes, for family unity, or that it is otherwise in the public interest. This waiver, like all others, is discretionary in nature, so you must be prepared to submit evidence showing that you are a valuable member of the community, that your loved ones depend on you, and that you have learned from your past mistakes.
Special note about violent, dangerous, or particularly serious crimes
In determining whether you should be granted a waiver of inadmissibility in the exercise of discretion, the immigration judge or immigration officer will consider whether any of your prior criminal convictions were violent, dangerous, or particularly serious. The adjudicator can and will consider all of the facts surrounding your conviction, including police reports, and your explanation of what occurred. For that reason, it is important that you gather all of the documents surrounding your prior conviction — such as police reports, charging documents, records of conviction — so that you and your attorney can consider the best way forward.
If the immigration judge or immigration officer determines that you have committed a violent, dangerous, or particularly serious crime, you will now have to show that extraordinary circumstances justify the granting of the waiver of inadmissibility. Typically, this means that you will have to show that the denial of the waiver will result in exceptional and extremely unusual hardship. That is a very difficult standard to meet, so you should speak with your attorney to determine whether you can meet that standard, or whether there is another way forward in your case.
If you would like more information about this waiver of inadmissibility, contact me today.
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