Centralized Filing and Adjudication for Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility
Beginning June 4, 2012, immigrant visa applicants who are applying for a waiver of a ground of inadmissibility from outside the United States will file the Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility, by mail with a USCIS domestic Lockbox facility, rather than with a USCIS international field office, or a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The Lockbox facility will send all Form I-601 applications submitted by international filers to the USCIS Nebraska Service Center (NSC) for adjudication.
USCIS international field offices that accept Form I-601 filings by appointment will no longer schedule new appointments for filing Form I-601.
The following information should answer questions and concerns about how this change will affect you.
Filing Form I-601
When to File a Form I-601 with a Lockbox Facility
If you are seeking to obtain a waiver for a ground of inadmissibility, you must file with the USCIS Lockbox facility. There are certain exceptions, please see "Exceptions to Filing with a Lockbox Facility" below.
If you are outside the United States and a Department of State consular officer has already interviewed you at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate and determined that you are ineligible for an immigrant visa based on a ground of inadmissibility, the consulate will give you a refusal notice. The refusal notice indicates the ground of visa ineligibility and whether you may be eligible to apply for a waiver. If the notice indicates you are eligible to apply for a waiver, you may apply for a waiver by filing Form I-601 with the Lockbox.
See the Direct Filing Addresses for Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility page for information on where to file.
Exceptions to Filing with a Lockbox Facility
The following exceptions apply to filing Form I-601 with the Lockbox facility:
- Individuals in Cuba can continue to file their Form I-601 applications at the USCIS Havana Field Office or can elect to file with the Lockbox Facility.
- USCIS international offices may allow applicants to file directly with a USCIS office outside the United States in certain cases for exceptional and compelling circumstances.
Read additional information (PDF, 79 KB)about the exceptions to domestic filing.
If You Filed a Form I-601 in Person at a USCIS International Field Office before June 4, 2012 or at Ciudad Juarez before December 5, 2012
If you already filed a Form I-601 at a USCIS international office, you do not need to file a new Form I-601 at the Lockbox facility. However, if you choose to file a new Form I-601 at the Lockbox facility and you still have a Form I-601 pending with a USCIS international field office, USCIS will transfer the application pending with the international office to the Nebraska Service Center (NSC). The NSC will combine the two applications and process them. Filing a new application with the Lockbox will not necessarily result in faster processing for an application that is pending with an international office.
If you file duplicate applications with a USCIS international field office and the Lockbox facility USCIS will transfer the application pending with the international office to the Nebraska Service Center, where the two applications will be combined for processing.
If You Already Filed a Form I-601 by Mail with a USCIS International Field Office
Applications received by mail at international field offices from June 4, 2012, through July 3, 2012, will be accepted and processed by the international offices.
Applications received by mail at international field offices July 4, 2012, or later will be returned, along with instructions on how to file by mail at the Lockbox.
If you file duplicate applications with a USCIS international field office and the Lockbox facility, USCIS will transfer the application pending with the international office to the Nebraska Service Center, where the two applications will be combined for processing.
If a Period of Time of a Year or Longer Has Elapsed since a Consular Officer Found You Inadmissible
You should contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate to make sure that your visa application is still open before you file a Form I-601 at the Lockbox facility. If your visa application is still open and your Form I-601 is approved, you may need to update certain documents associated with your visa processing if they have expired.
Evidence to Submit for Form I-601
Depending on the type of waiver, the type of evidence you submit will vary. The Form I-601 is used to request waivers for a number of different visa ineligibility grounds. In support of your application, you should provide evidence that shows why you may qualify for a waiver of inadmissibility.
If your medical exam or police clearance letter are outdated, USCIS does not require you to present an updated medical exam or police clearance letter before filing your Form I-601 with the Lockbox. However, if the U.S. Embassy or Consulate requires you to resubmit certain documents to show visa eligibility, you must comply with the consulate’s request before the U.S. Embassy or Consulate will issue your visa.
Please refer to the form instructions for specific requirements for each waiver. The form and instructions are available at www.uscis.gov/i-601.
If You Already Have a Pending Appeal Regarding a Previously Denied Form I-601
If your previously filed Form I-601 was denied and you have an appeal pending review by the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO), you are not required to file a new Form I-601 with the Lockbox. However, you are also not prohibited from filing a new Form I-601 with the Lockbox if you wish to do so.
Filing a Form I-601 with the Lockbox if Your Previously Filed Form I-601 is Denied
USCIS does not place a restriction on the number of times you may file a Form I-601. When you submit those documents, you should present a copy of your waiver approval as evidence that USCIS waived the prior visa ineligibility.
Form I-601 Processing
The USCIS Lockbox facility will transfer all Form I-601 applications submitted by international filers to the USCIS Nebraska Service Center (NSC) for adjudication.
You will receive a receipt notice that contains a USCIS receipt number associated with your Form I-601 application. You may check the status of your Form I-601 application online by entering the USCIS receipt number into the “Case Status” field located on the USCIS home page. Also, when the NSC makes a decision on your application, the NSC will send you a decision notice at the address you provided on your Form I-601 application.
If Your Form I-601 Application is Approved
If your Form I-601 application is approved, the NSC will notify Department of State consular staff at the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate of the decision, and provide the specific visa ineligibility ground(s) that have been waived. Once the consular staff receive this notification, they will contact you regarding issuance of the visa.
If it has been a long time since your visa interview, the consulate may require you to resubmit certain documents or reappear for another interview to verify that you are still eligible for a visa.
If Your Form I-601 Application is Denied
If your Form I-601 application is denied, you will receive a denial notice at the address you provided on your Form I-601 application. You may appeal the decision within 30 days by filing Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion. The denial notice will provide instructions for submitting Form I-290B.
Requests to Expedite Form I-601 Processing
If you are sending your application to the USCIS Lockbox and believe you have urgent and compelling reasons, at the time of filing you may attach a written request to have your application expedited. If you have already submitted your application to the Lockbox, you can make an expedite request by either contacting the Nebraska Service Center directly by email or by contacting the USCIS Contact Center by phone. See information on how to contact us at the Nebraska Service Center or the USCIS Contact Center.
If your application was filed at the USCIS Ciudad Juarez Field Office before December 5, 2012, you may make the request to expedite processing at the time that you file your Form I-601 application. If the application has already been submitted, you may send your request to the office by post office or email. If your application is pending with an international USCIS office, you may contact that office directly by post office or electronic mail. See information on how to reach USCIS international offices.