Just a week ago, on November 30, 2012, USCIS adopted new filing policies and procedures regarding the exceptions for permitting filing Form I-601 (Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility) and any associated Form I-212 (Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the United States After Deportation or Removal) at international USCIS offices. These new exceptions apply to all USCIS offices.
This new policy is a modification to the original filing process adopted by USCIS on June 4, 2012, which requires waiver applicants located outside the United States to file their Form I-601 and Associated Form I-212 with a USCIS Lockbox for adjudication by the Nebraska Service Center (NSC). The original filing process also requires that applicants in Mexico who filed Forms I-601 and associated Forms I-212 by December 4, 2012, waiver applicants in Mexico had the option of filing their applications either with the USCIS Lockbox or with the USCIS Ciudad Juarez Field Office.
Any applicants in Mexico who file Forms I-601 and associated Forms I-212 after December 4, 2012, must file with a USCIS Lockbox for adjudication.
USCIS adopted this new policy because in some situations, Lockbox filing may not be feasible. As USCIS recognizes, there is no direct mail service between the United States and Cuba. And even where direct mail service is available, there may be cases that involve exceptional and compelling circumstances that require the immediate filing of the application, because even expedited processing by the NSC would not address the urgency of the circumstances.
This new policy is entered to fulfill the feasibility gap :
I. For applicants residing in Cuba
Any applicants residing in Cuba may continue to file Form I-601 and associated Form I-212 with the USCIS Havana Field Office. The Havana Field Office will continue to adjudicate all applications filed with that office. If an applicant residing in Cuba has an authorized attorney or other representative in the United States, the applicant may elect to file Form I-601 or Form I-212 either with the Lockbox in the United States or with the Havana Field Office.
II. For applicants in countries other than Cuba
In countries where a USCIS office is located, applicants of that country may file the Form I-601 and associated Form I-212 with an international USCIS Field Office Director (FOD) if the FOD finds the existence of exceptional and compelling circumstances that require the immediate filing and adjudicating.
The USCIS international office will also accept any Form I-290B (Notice of Appeal or Motion), associated with a denial of a Form I-601 or Form I-212 filed under this policy guidance. If Form I-290B is filed as a motion, the international office will adjudicate the motion. If Form I-290B is filed as an appeal, the international office will forward the record to the AAO for adjudication of the appeal.
Where the waiver applicant is in the country in which a USCIS international office is located but unable to appear personally to request the exception and to apply, the applicant or the applicant’s authorized representative should contact the USCIS Field Office Director for instructions on how to make the request and/or apply.
The following are some examples of time sensitive, compelling and exceptional circumstances listed by the USCIS:
• Medical emergencies: The applicant or qualifying family member is facing an urgent medical emergency that requires immediate travel. This includes the situation where a petitioner or beneficiary is pregnant and delaying travel for the time it would take for expedited NSC adjudication may create a medical risk or extreme hardship for the mother or child.
• Threats to personal safety: The waiver applicant or the qualifying family member is facing an imminent threat to personal safety.
• Close to aging out: A beneficiary is within a few weeks of aging out of visa eligibility.
• Adoption of a child: A petitioner who has adopted a child locally and has an imminent need to depart the country.
The above is not a complete list of examples. FODs have discretion to accept and adjudicate Forms I-601 and I-212 when there are exceptional and compelling humanitarian reasons to do so. FODs should consult with their District Director or Deputy District Director when they have questions about whether to authorize the local filing of waiver applications.
If the FOD determines that an applicant should not be permitted to apply with the international office, the FOD should inform the applicant he or she may provide with the submission to the Lockbox a written request for expedited adjudication. The request should explain the reason for the request and any available supporting documentation for the need to expedite.
An I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility, is filed to permit an alien who has been denied admission to the United States to gain admission as a lawful permanent resident or fiancé(e) under certain circumstances. This waiver is based on extreme hardship to United States citizen or lawful permanent resident relatives of the alien which would result if the alien’s inadmissibility cannot be waived.
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