Unlawful Presence Waivers – Timeline
The time it takes to get a decision on your unlawful presence waiver application will be a combination of how long it takes to prepare your waiver package and how long it takes USCIS to make a decision on your case.
Unless you are facing a filing deadline, you should not rush to submit your unlawful presence waiver package. It is much better to take the time needed to submit the strongest case possible with your first application than to risk having your waiver denied because you rushed to submit instead of submitting the best possible case. You should expect it to take several weeks, if not months, to prepare your unlawful presence waiver package.
USCIS aims to make decisions on unlawful presence waiver applications in about four months. I have received decisions in less than two months, but a better estimate is three to six months to receive a decision from the time your application is submitted. If your case involves special issues, it is possible that it may take even longer to receive a decision.
How can I get a faster decision on my unlawful presence waiver?
If you believe that your situation is very time-sensitive and would like to request that your I-601 unlawful presence waiver application be expedited, I strongly recommend that you discuss your situation with an immigration lawyer. Keep in mind that all I-601 unlawful presence waiver applications require that the applicant show that their US citizen or permanent resident family member will experience extreme hardship if the waiver is not granted. This means that basically everyone who is applying for an unlawful presence waiver has a compelling story and would like to receive a decision as quickly as possible. If you have a compelling and time-sensitive reason for requesting that your case be processed faster than the normal processing times, you can request that your case be expedited.
The best way to get a decision in the fastest time possible is to submit a well-organized waiver package that makes it clear to the reviewer that you qualify for an unlawful presence waiver. A well-organized waiver package will:
- Include hardship letters and supporting statements written in easy to read English using proper English grammar and spelling
- Highlight the strongest arguments at the beginning of the package
- Include supporting documents that clearly demonstrate each hardship factor but that don’t overwhelm the reviewer with too many documents
- Include a table of contents that makes it easy for the reviewer to understand the entire waiver case and to find supporting documents quickly and easily
- Include a legal memo or letter that explains how all of the unlawful presence waiver requirements are met and highlights the key hardship factors
- Follow all of the USCIS unlawful presence waiver application instructions
If you aren’t sure about the best way to present your unlawful presence waiver case so that you can get the fastest possible decision, you should consider discussing your case with an immigration lawyer.