The United States does not make it easy to enter the country with a criminal record. If you have determined that your record contains an offense that will bar you from entry to the U.S., you will need to file for a I-192 “Application for Advance Permission to Enter as Nonimmigrant.” This application is for a visit of a limited time. If you are seeking a visa to live permanently in the U.S., you will file form I-601 .
This article discusses the I-192 application. Obtaining this type of waiver for criminal inadmissibility can be a long and complex process. It is more difficult than a similar Canadian application. While you are certainly capable of preparing and filing the application on your own, many people retain a lawyer who specializes in the field to assist with the filing. A legal expert can also examine the grounds for your inadmissibility to ensure that you are not being wrongfully denied entry in the first place.
I-192 – U.S. Temporary Waiver of Inadmissibility
The U.S. waiver of criminal inadmissibility permits a foreign traveler to visit the United States based on proof of rehabilitation. This involves an assessment of the risk of harm to United States, the seriousness of the prior criminal conviction(s), and the reason for wanting to visit the United States.
DO NOT wait until the last minute to apply for a waiver. The waiver application process can take from 4 to 12 months, but delays of up to 2 years have occurred in the past. If you have a serious record involving sexual assault and/or drug trafficking, it could take longer than 18 months for your application to be completed.
Procedures to File a I-192
You will file the application at a major Port of Entry at the U.S. Border.
Below is a general list of the items you will need to present to file for a I-192.
- Form I-192.
- U.S. Fingerprint chart FD-258. This fingerprint chart will be completed by a U.S. CBP Officer when you come in person to submit the application. If you have mailed the application, instructions for obtaining it will be given to you after the rest of the application has been received.
- A Form G-325A – Biographic Information.
- A copy of an official police record, or evidence that no record exists. Canadians will obtain this from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) by submitting your fingerprints on Form C216C.
- If you have a criminal file in any other country’s court system, you must also obtain a copy of the applicable record, or an official letter from the court of jurisdiction stating the reason why a copy of the record is not available.
- Evidence of your citizenship.
- A statement regarding the purpose of your intended activities in the United States – vacation, business, etc.
- A copy of the official court record from the actual court of conviction indicating plea indictment, conviction and disposition for each and every crime committed anywhere in the world.
- A statement in your own words explaining the circumstances of each arrest, conviction, and sentence.
- Any evidence or explanation of your reform or rehabilitation, such as counseling or rehabilitation programs completed, current employment, marital status, community service etc., or any other information you wish to be considered and you believe strengthens your request.
- A filing fee that will run over $500.
It is also recommended that 3 character references be included.
If you have been convicted of a narcotics offence, then you should undergo a drug test and provide a letter of clean record from a physician.
Do not submit your Form I-192 application until you have obtained ALL of the required documents, as incomplete packages will not be processed. You should contact U.S. Customs and Border Patrol before you bring in your paperwork to confirm that you have everything you need.
How Are I-192 Inadmissibility Waivers Decided?
There are 3 basic criteria for an application for a waiver of inadmissibility:
- The risk of harm to society if the applicant is admitted
- The seriousness of the applicant’s prior violation(s) of immigration or criminal law
- The nature of the applicant’s reasons for seeking entry
How Long are I-192 Waivers Valid?
I-192 Waivers of inadmissibility are typically valid for a period of 5 years, but could be issued for a lesser period at the discretion of the U.S. immigration officer. If the waiver is granted, the applicant is required to display the waiver for each and every entry during the term of the waiver. Unlike Canada, the U.S. does not have a way to obtain a permanent waiver.
Emergency Applications – Humanitarian Parole
The I-192 waiver process cannot be rushed or expedited. If an emergency situation exists, you may be considered for a “Humanitarian Parole“. However, an emergency Humanitarian Parole will be granted only to life and death situations such as a family or medical emergency — not things related to your job, vacation, or honeymoon.
There is a form to fill out which you can file with the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service. This exemption can also be issued by U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the U.S. border. This approval is at the discretion of the Port Director, so you should contact the specific Port of Entry where the parole will be sought to inquire about procedures.
Because these are decided at the complete discretion of one person, you have no way of knowing if you will be approved. Even if your situation qualifies as an emergency, you may still be refused a Humanitarian Parole if your reason for entering the country does not outweigh the risk you present to the United States should you be permitted entry.