I-601A Filing Fee: Understanding Cost And Payment Process

Applying for an immigration waiver in the United States is a detailed process that involves various forms and fees. One such process is the I-601A application, also known as the Application for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver. This waiver is for individuals who are not eligible for a visa due to unlawful presence in the U.S. but have a close relative who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. The waiver allows applicants to apply for a provisional unlawful presence waiver before leaving the U.S. for their visa interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad.
The fee for the I-601A form is a pivotal part of the application process. As of the last update, the standard filing fee is set at $630. Applicants under the age of 79 are also required to pay an additional $85 for biometrics services. The fee can be a barrier for some applicants, which is why the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) allows for fee waivers in specific cases where applicants meet certain criteria. It is important to understand that

the correct fee must accompany the application; otherwise, USCIS will reject it. The fees are subject to change, and applicants should verify the amounts prior to submission.

The application, along with the appropriate fee or fee waiver documentation, is mailed to a USCIS lockbox facility, specifically designated for this purpose. Payment of the fee is integral to the processing of the waiver, and applicants are encouraged to use the USCIS Fee Calculator tool to determine the exact amounts needed for their filing package. This ensures the process moves forward without unnecessary delays due to errors in payment.

Overview of I-601A Waiver

The I-601A Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver allows certain individuals, who only face a ground of inadmissibility based on unlawful presence, to apply for a waiver in the United States before departing for their immigrant visa interview abroad.

Purpose of Form I-601A

The purpose of Form I-601A is to provide a legal mechanism for eligible individuals to formally request a provisional waiver. This waiver pertains to the grounds of inadmissibility related to unlawful presence under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) section 212(a)(9)(B). The waiver is essential as it minimizes the time applicants would otherwise spend apart from their family during the waiver process.

Eligibility Criteria

Applicants must meet specific criteria to be eligible for the I-601A waiver:

  • The applicant must be physically present in the United States at the time of filing the waiver application and for biometric data collection.
  • They should be at least 17 years old when applying.
  • An approved family-based I-130 petition, evidencing their relationship with a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident family member.
  • The applicant must demonstrate that a denial of the waiver would cause extreme hardship to their U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or parents.

It’s essential for applicants to understand that the I-601A waiver process is complex and requires a detailed understanding of immigration law.

Filing Fee Details

When applying for an immigration benefit, it is crucial to understand the associated costs. This section breaks down the details regarding the I-601A filing fee.

Current Fee Amount

The current fee for the I-601A application is $630. Applicants under the age of 79 are also required to pay an additional $85 for biometrics services, making the total fee $715.

Methods of Payment

Applicants can pay the filing fee using:

  • Personal checks
  • Money orders
  • Cashier’s checks Payments must be made payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Note: Do not use abbreviations when writing the payee name.

Fee Waiver Eligibility

Fee waivers are not available for the I-601A provisional unlawful presence waiver application. All applicants must pay the full required fee, unless exempted under specific guidelines set by the USCIS.

Application Process

In preparing for an I-601A application, accuracy in documentation and adherence to the specified filing procedure are crucial.

Required Documentation

Applicants must provide evidence that establishes their eligibility for the provisional unlawful presence waiver. This includes proof of their relationship to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, and documentation supporting their claim of extreme hardship to their U.S. relative should the waiver not be granted.

Step-by-Step Filing Procedure

  1. Complete Form I-601A: The form must be filled out thoroughly, ensuring all the information provided is current and accurate.
  2. Gather Necessary Documentation: Assemble all required documents, including proof of relationship and hardship, as mentioned above.
  3. Pay the Fees: As of the latest update, the processing fee is $630, plus a biometric processing fee of $85. Applicants 79 years old or older are exempt from the biometric fee.
  4. Mail the Application: Applicants should send their completed Form I-601A along with all supporting documents and the correct fees to the USCIS Chicago Lockbox facility.

After Submission

After an applicant submits their Form I-601A and the accompanying filing fee, the process progresses through several steps. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provides notifications and facilitates further requirements for the applicant.

Receipt Notice

Once the USCIS accepts the Form I-601A for processing, the applicant receives a Receipt Notice. This document, Form I-797C, confirms the receipt of the application and includes a receipt number, which is critical for tracking the case’s progress.

Biometrics Appointment

Following the acceptance of the application, USCIS schedules a Biometrics Appointment. Applicants under the age of 79 are required to attend this appointment for fingerprinting and other biometric services, with the associated fee already paid at the time of initial filing.

Case Status Tracking

Applicants can monitor the status of their Form I-601A using the receipt number from the Receipt Notice. The USCIS offers case status tracking online or through their customer service hotline, providing transparent updates on the application’s progression.

Common Issues and Resolutions

When filing the I-601A form, applicants frequently encounter specific issues that can delay or complicate the process. A thorough understanding of these issues can lead to a more streamlined application experience.

Incomplete Application

Issue: An incomplete I-601A application is a primary reason for delays or denials. This typically occurs when an applicant fails to provide all required information on the form or neglects to include necessary supporting documents.

Resolution: To avoid this issue, applicants should:

  • Review the form instructions carefully to ensure all required fields are completed.
  • Submit all required evidence and supporting documentation as outlined by USCIS.

Additional Evidence Requests

Issue: USCIS may issue a Request for Evidence (RFE) if the submitted I-601A lacks sufficient evidence to demonstrate eligibility for the waiver.

Resolution: Applicants should promptly and completely respond to an RFE by:

  • Following the instructions provided in the RFE to provide the specific additional evidence requested.
  • Double-checking to ensure all requested information is included before submitting the response to USCIS.

Legal Considerations

When filing the I-601A Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver, understanding the legal grounds of inadmissibility and the importance of proper legal representation are crucial for a successful application process.

Understanding Inadmissibility

The I-601A waiver exists to address the legal issue of inadmissibility due to unlawful presence in the United States. Under the Immigration and Nationality Act section 212(a)(9)(B), individuals who have been unlawfully present in the U.S. for more than 180 days but less than one year and then depart voluntarily, face a three-year bar from re-entry. Those unlawfully present for over one year face a ten-year bar from re-entry upon departure. The I-601A provisional waiver allows qualifying applicants to apply for a waiver of these bars before leaving the U.S. for their consular interview.

Role of Legal Representation

Legal representation is often crucial in navigating the complexities of immigration law and ensuring a correctly filed I-601A application. An immigration attorney can provide:

  • Guidance on the eligibility criteria for the waiver.
  • Assistance in gathering necessary documentation, such as proof of extreme hardship to qualifying relatives.
  • Advocacy in the event of any legal complexities that may arise during the process.

Attorneys experienced in immigration law understand the procedural nuances and can help applicants avoid common pitfalls that could lead to delays or denials.

Resources and Support

When applying for an I-601A Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver, applicants have access to a variety of resources and support mechanisms to ease the process. One should leverage official channels and expert legal advice for the most accurate assistance.

USCIS Contact Information

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provides direct assistance through various means. Applicants may contact USCIS for information regarding the I-601A waiver, including filing fees:

  • Phone: Contact the USCIS National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283.
  • Mail: Correspondence regarding the I-601A application should be directed to the appropriate USCIS address as listed on their website or on application instructions.
  • Online: For updates on fees and forms, the USCIS official website (uscis.gov) remains the authoritative source.

Finding Assistance and Advice

Applicants seeking assistance in the application process for an I-601A waiver should consider:

  • Immigration Attorneys: Consult with a licensed immigration attorney for legal advice tailored to your specific case.
  • Non-Profit Organizations: There are numerous non-profit organizations that offer support and information on immigration processes at reduced rates or free of charge.
  • Official USCIS Guides: USCIS offers instructional materials and guides that provide step-by-step assistance in completing the I-601A application.