The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) is complex. If you believe you need to fill out Form I-191 Application for Relief under former Section 212(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act but have questions or concerns, you can get legal help.
New Frontier Immigration Law could help you fill out your application completely and accurately, ensuring any necessary supporting documents are included with your application.
Understanding the 212(c) Waiver
If a lawful permanent resident (LPR) is threatened with deportation due to a former criminal conviction, they may use a 212(c) waiver to contest the deportation and keep their status. To qualify as a 212(c) waiver applicant, the lawful permanent resident must maintain a seven-year continuous residency after entering the United States.
If the LPR is in danger of deportation because they have received a conviction for certain crimes, they may use the waiver under Section § 212(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). With the waiver, they could potentially avoid deportation.
Who May Receive a 212(c) Waiver
As stated, LPRs must reside in the U.S. for seven consecutive years without being charged with a crime. If they do receive a conviction, they risk deportation, but if eligible, they may apply for discretionary relief under INA § 212(c), 8 U.S.C. § 1182(c).
However, if the LPR served a minimum five-year prison term on a felony conviction between November 29, 1990, and April 24, 1996, they may be considered ineligible.
It does not matter whether the conviction resulted from a plea agreement or a judgment at trial. It also does not matter which law was an effect of the time the convection was entered. If they are removable or deportable under the law, they may be eligible for relief under former INA § 212(c).
You can find out whether you are eligible for a waiver based on the date on which you were convicted of a crime and the type of crime you were accused of committing. A 212(c) waiver is available even in instances where an immigrant was convicted of a crime involving a controlled substance or a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude (CIMT).
The Cancellation of Removal vs. the 212(c) Waiver
The 212(c) waiver was eliminated in 1996 and replaced with the LPR cancellation of removal INA 240A(a). You may be eligible for removal cancellation if you meet the following requirements:
- Prior to committing the offense, you lived in the United States for at least seven continuous years
- You were not convicted of an aggravated felony
- You have been a permanent resident for a minimum of five years
- LPR pleaded guilty to a pre-1996 conviction
In February 2014, section 212(c) relief was made available to immigrants who were previously removable, deportable, or ordered to be deported due to their criminal convictions in a decision made by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA).
Filing a 212(c) Waiver Application
If you believe you are eligible for a 212(c) waiver, you need to file Form I-191, Application for Relief Under Former Section 212(c) of the INA, formally known as “Application for Advance Permission to Return to Unrelinquished Domicile.”
Do not forget to sign your application, as the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will reject any Form I-191 that is unsigned. This will delay USCIS’s processing of your request for relief.
Your application should always be filled out in black ink or typed. Make sure to include your alien registration number (A-Number) at the top of each form. Be sure to answer each question accurately and completely. If a question is not applicable to your case, be sure to write or type “N/A” unless the directions say otherwise.
What to Expect at Your Appointment
At your appointment, you may be asked to provide biometrics. If that is the case, you will be asked to sign an oath to the following:
- You have reviewed and understand the information in your application
- You authorize or provided all of the information that is contained in your application
- All of the information contained in your application was accurate, true, and correct when it was filed
USCIS will likely deny your application if you fail to attend your biometric services appointment. Be sure to submit photocopies of any requested documents, as failure to do so could delay the processing of your application. Keep your original documents separate, as you do not want to risk them being destroyed by USCIS accidentally.
Be prepared to pay the $585 filing fee and appear for a photograph, fingerprinting, and interview with USCIS to verify your identity, conduct a security or background check, and review your criminal history through the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Once USCIS has received your application, they will review it, ensure it is complete and determine whether you need to attend a biometric services appointment. If you do, you will be informed as such in writing.
Factors Impacting Your 212 (c) Relief Application
There are several factors that could impact your 212(c) relief application. If you meet the requirements for 212(c) relief, your case will be adjudicated based on several factors, some of which include:
- Whether you have family ties to the U.S.
- What hardship you or your family will face if relief is denied
- Whether you have served in the U.S. Armed Forces
- How long you’ve been a resident in the U.S.
- Whether you own a business or property in the U.S.
- Whether you participate in community service
- Whether you have previously been convicted of a crime
- Whether you have committed other immigration violations
An Immigration Lawyer Can Help With Your 212 (c) Waiver
If you have questions regarding whether a 212(c) waiver is available to you, our immigration attorney at New Frontier Immigration Law can help.
Fill out our online contact form or call our office to discuss the specific details of your case.