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I-601 Waivers: USCIS Request for Evidence During COVID-19 Crisis

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing the I601 Waiver and for those who are unaware, the I601 Waiver is often used in cases where an individual has been found to be inadmissible. 

In cases we deal with rather frequently, it is a finding of inadmissibility at a US Embassy or US Consulate outside of the United States. For our practice here we oftentimes see this at the US Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand as well as the US Embassy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, as well as the US Embassy in Vientiane, Laos; we see findings of inadmissibility made and sometimes, not all the time but sometimes, those findings of inadmissibility can be overcome through use of an I-601 Waiver. 

For those who are unaware, a finding of crimes involving moral turpitude, a prior overstay in the United States, prior acts of prostitution, there is also prior criminal activity; there are a number of things that can be considered a legal ground of inadmissibility and if you have been denied for a visa to the United States based on a legal ground of inadmissibility, it is probably a good idea to contact a legal professional in order to determine whether or not you can either remedy that finding directly with the Embassy perhaps or if it is going to be necessary to deal with an I-601 waiver in order to ultimately be approved and granted a Visa back to the United States.

We deal with 601s fairly frequently here in the office and it appears that COVID-19 can and in cases that we are currently dealing with, likely will have any impact on the processing of Requests for Evidence in I-601 waiver cases. For those unaware a request for evidence, as the name would denote, is a request by the Adjudicating Officer of the I-601 Waiver for further documentation and evidence pertaining to, in some cases the underlying ground of inadmissibility or the ground under which one wants to see the ground of inadmissibility waived; they want to see further evidence associated with that case. Under normal circumstances, that wouldn't be an issue but with COVID-19 or Coronavirus we have to deal with, this is causing delays for folks to be able to respond to these requests for evidence.

In a recent announcement from USCIS, that is, the announcement is titled: USCIS Announces Flexibility for Requests for Evidence, Notices of Intent to Deny. Quoting directly: "In response to the Coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic, US Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that it is adopting a measure to assist applicants and petitioners who are responding to Requests for Evidence, RFEs, and Notices of Intent to Deny, NOIDs, dated between March 1 and May 1, 2020. For applicants and petitioners who receive an RFE or NOID dated between March 1 and May 1, 2020, any responses submitted within 60 calendar days after the response deadline set forth in the RFE or NOID will be considered by USCIS before any action is taken. USCIS is adopting several measures to protect our workforce and community and to minimize the Immigration consequences for those seeking Immigration benefits during this time." 

So the thing to take away from this video is Immigration is aware that COVID-19 can have an adverse impact on response times to Requests for Evidence and even in situations involving an I-601 request for a waiver of a ground of inadmissibility, COVID-19 can have a dramatic impact because these are really substantial cases, I-601s.  They require a lot of documentation and evidence to file and they can be very nuanced as well. For this reason, Attorneys often have to put together a lot of documentation to get a case filed and processed through. 

So the thing to take away from this video is notwithstanding the fact that COVID-19 is out there and delaying these cases, USCIS has taken that into consideration and provided a 60-day extension for responding to such a Request for Evidence so long as the request was made between March 1 and May 1 of 2020.