For those illegal immigrants who have an immediate family member (child, parent, or spouse) who has sponsored them for a family immigrant visa, the United States Government is allowing them to apply for a provisional waiver so that they can wait in the United States for their overseas consulate immigrant visa interview. If approved, you will need to be in your native country only for the time it takes for you to arrive for the interview and then the few days it might take for the Consular staff to approve your petition and give you the proper documentation. It is expected that this process should not take more than a few days or weeks, depending on the country in which you will be interviewed.
Assuming that you are eligible to file a provisional unlawful presence waiver and meet all the requirements, the next step is to file USCIS Form I-601A. This is a fairly straightforward form for most applicants. If you have filed your Form I-130 yourself, this form too can be filed without the help of an attorney. In case you used a lawyer to file your immigration petition, it is best to hire the same firm. Also, you should have a fairly clean background except for your illegal entry and/or unlawful stay in the United States. In case you have a criminal background or other legal problems, DIY approach is not recommended; it is best to seek competent legal help to determine if you should even file this application, and if so, how.
The process to file is simple. Download the latest Form 601A from the USCIS website and then complete it on the computer using my instructions below. After it is complete, print it, attach the evidence/documents (copies of approval notices, doctor's note to prove illness/disability)/check for $670, and then mail it to:
P.O. Box 4599
Chicago, IL 60680
Once your application has been accepted, you will be asked to appear for a fingerprint/biometric appointment near you. Eventually, your application maybe approved and you will be notified by mail. When you finally leave the United States to attend, you will need to have the original approval letter with you that you must also carry with you to the consulate for the interview.
While each case is different and you will need to write your own hardship explanation, I provide here an example of an undocumented alien whose US citizen husband is disabled and without her help, he will be unable to take care of himself and their child.
Part 1: Information About Applicant
1. Enter your alien registration number (A#). This is the number you will see on all your communication from the USCIS.
2. If you were ever assigned a valid Social Security number by the SSA, enter it here. If you have been using a fake or fradulent SSN that was not assigned to you legally, do not enter it. Leave the space blank instead.
3, 4, 5: Enter your name and make sure that it is consistent with your pending application.
6, 7: Provide your residential address and mailing address, if different from home address.
8: Enter a phone number that you can answer yourself or it has voicemail or someone can take a message.
9. Provide your email address.
10. Enter date of birth.
11. City of birth right from your passport
12. Include province/state, and if not, leave it blank.
13. Pick the country in which you were born.
14. Pick the country whose passport you currently have and will be the country you will be returning to for the interview.
15. Enter the date you entered the US the last time.
16a, b: Write down the place and pick the state.
17. If you came on a visa and were inspected by an immigration officer at an airport or land crossing, write down the visa category that should be mentioned on your I-94 card and also the stamp in your passport. If you crossed the border illegally, then write down EWI, which means entry without inspection. In other words, you were not inspected by a CBP officer.
18a to 24: If you have ever been in the US before, you must list all those entries and exits. Try not to forget anything because the USCIS will have your data and if you miss something, it will count as lying.
25. If you are currently in removal proceedings, or being deported, then you should really not be completing this application yourself. You must work with an attorney instead. Otherwise, check No.
27 to 31d: Read carefully and your answer should be No. Check that. If you believe that you cannot answer a question as No, do not file yourself and seek legal help. If you entered using false papers like passport/visa or you tried to help a family member enter the United States illegally by providing fake papers or paying a immigrant smuggler, even though you may not be caught, you should still not file this application yourself. Just because you were not caught or charged with a crime, it does not mean that the Government does not know about it. The person you bought false papers from or the criminal who took your money to help smuggle a person into the country may have provided all the information to the government.
Part 2: Information about immediate relative petition and immigrant visa processing
1. Get out your immigration file and enter the USCIS receipt number of your approval petition
2a, b, c: Enter the full name of the US citizen family member
3. Pick the relationship status with this individual.
4. From your immigration file, find out the NVC case number and enter it accurately here (you should find it on the receipt for the DOS immigrant visa processing fee).
5. Your answer should be No. If not, you are probably not eligible for this form.
Part 3: Information about qualifying relative
1, 2: Enter the name of the US citizen relative who will experience hardship and check your relationship. This could be the same person as the one who sponsored you or could be different.
3. If there are more than two people who will suffer due to your absence from the United States, then provide name and relationship status for all on a separate sheet of paper but make sure that you write down your A# on top so that the papers can be tracked in case they get separated from the application.
Part 4: Statement from the applicant
This is the part that you should first write down in a separate document, proof read it, refine it, and only then retype it here or copy/paste. Remember that everything else in the application is just information. This is the most crucial part of the application and the decision is going to be based on how compelling the case is. Also remember that there is a big difference between extreme hardship and merely inconvenience. If your US citizen husband does not know how to cook or change diapers, that is just inconvenience, but if your 80 year old mother is suffering from cancer and can barely get out of bed, that is extreme hardship. Below is a statement that demonstrates how this family will fall apart and there can be cases like this that you can have. So be genuine and truthful.
Part 5-8: It is all pretty simple with nothing more than entering names and signatures.