US Immigration “waivers” simply mean that you ask immigration authorities here to “forgive” your past infringements of US laws, statutes and / or procedures. 

You will certainly need an Immigration “waiver” if you initially entered the US “without inspection” (that is, illegal entry into the US, without authorization from Immigration authorities, through issuance of a visa or other legally-acceptable means), then some years later marry a US Citizen. At the time you apply for Adjustment of your status to US permanent resident after that marriage, you will have more hoops to jump through before you can enjoy this “fruit” (permanent residence) of an alien’s marriage to a US Citizen spouse. 

As applied to US Immigration law, a “waiver” is a formal application to the US government, and an acceptance by the latter, that even though the alien is ordinarily inadmissible into the US based on various grounds (i.e. ill-health, illegal entry, past overstay, past criminal conduct / violations and security/terrorism or other similar grounds, etc.), the government will “overlook” or “forgive” these bars to entry and allow such a person into the US or to continue to live in the US. 

The person applying for such a waiver may already be in the United States; in certain other circumstances, the alien or person may also be OUTSIDE the US while seeking the waiver. The latter is generally the case in two situations: when the person has already been removed or deported from the US, usually when the person was a US Green Card holder and then committed a crime in the US that warranted removal / deportation. The second scenario will encompass those who are neither US Citizens nor Green Card holders, have previously travelled to the US as non-Immigrant Visitors and were deemed to have broken US Immigration laws during such prior visit (s) to the US.

Such persons also likely went through Expedited Removal from the US, which can be quite a harrowing experience.

Persons who previously entered the US “without inspection” (i.e. sneaked across an entry post or border into the US), usually trigger what is known in US Immigration Law language as the “10 year admission bar” (There is also the “3 year admission bar”, which is usually not applicable in certain waiver situations, such as those that require filing an I 601 A waiver application). 

Against this backdrop, the person’s status in the US is such that the government cannot and does not officially acknowledge that he or she even “exists” within the country (i.e. the individual has no social security number, work authorization, etc.) 

With the submission of a waiver application, the person may now apply to the US government for such benefits; if approved, the person gets not just the above benefits but a pathway to US Citizenship (i.e. a Green Card and subsequently, naturalization). These benefits far outweigh those recipients of “deferred action” programs get, such as the original Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), or its later, expanded version.

In March 2013, the previous Obama administration made a significant change to the waiver application process, by initiating what is now known as the Application for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver application, on Form I 601 A. Before that time, waiver applicants had to leave the US and apply for the benefit at the US Embassy or consulate in their country of origin, and no matter how long they had lived in the US before being forced to make the trip. 

Aside from the uncertainty that their waiver application might not be approved and thus disallowing them from returning to the US (since they would be subject to the “admission bar” for staying without authorization in the US in the first place), the process also often took a long time to complete, thereby separating even successful waiver applicants from their loved ones (i.e. US Citizen children and spouses), for long periods of time, and often resulting in loss of their erstwhile jobs---or other inconveniences---in the US.

The rollout of the “Provisional Waiver” process changed all that: now, the waiver application could be submitted and adjudicated in the US, with successful applicants then undertaking a quick foreign trip to a US Embassy or Consulate in their country of origin to obtain the necessary documents legitimizing their sojourn in the US. This initiative has cut down the wait time for waiver applications and adjudications considerably.

We have successfully handled Immigration Waiver cases for many of our clients (see our Success Stories)