Green cards by waiver for thousands who are ‘out-of-status’

By Atty. Rio Guerrero

A landmark change has been achieved in U.S. immigration law for thousands of “TNT” Filipinos and other foreign nationals.

Recent expansion of the Stateside Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver Program – known as the I-601A Waiver Program – is finally a reality. For years, we have represented clients who are “out-of-status” and “unlawfully present” inside the United States to secure their I-601A waivers and, ultimately, U.S. lawful permanent residency – “green card” status. Now, with the expansion of this valuable program, thousands more Filipinos and other foreign nationals inside the United States may also secure their green cards.

What is the I-601A Waiver Program?
It allows persons who are unlawfully present inside the United States for over 180 consecutive days, and are the beneficiaries of new, pending or approved family-based, employment-based, or special immigrant visa petitions, or the diversity lottery, to secure a waiver from the unlawful presence bar, upon exit from the United States. Later, the foreign national may secure his immigrant visa at the U.S. Consulate and return to the United States. In total, the person only spends several weeks outside the United States before returning. Upon re-entry into the United States, the person is granted U.S. green card status.

Are You Eligible?
To qualify, a person must have a U.S. citizen or green card holder parent, wife or husband. It must be successfully argued by your attorney that your relative will suffer “extreme hardship” if the waiver request is not granted. The burden of proof to establish “extreme hardship” is high, but may be achieved if the case is handled properly. The person remains safely inside the United States, while applying for and securing their waiver.

Can I Return to the United States?
Because the person applies for and is granted his I-601A waiver while still inside the United States, the risk of travel overseas is significantly reduced. Our law firm has enjoyed tremendous success for clients over the past several years, since the initial waiver program began. While prior victories are not a guarantee of future results, an attorney should never start a client down a path that he does not feel supremely confident will result in approval. In fact, all of our clients who secured their I-601A waivers inside the United States, then exited the United States, and returned as green card holders. Thus, we know that this program works well, when navigated correctly.

What Should You Do Now?
This expanded waiver program is incredibly valuable to so many thousands of our “TNT” kababayans – but also extremely complicated. This article provides necessary general information about the waiver program. But if you believe that you or someone you know may be eligible, contact a qualified immigration attorney who has successfully navigated this challenging immigration process for many clients. That attorney should give you a detailed analysis and honest assessment of your opportunity to become a green card holder through the expanded I-601A Statewide Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver Program.

rioAttorney Rio Guerrero is a proud second-generation Filipino-American and the recipient of a coveted NAPABA “Best Lawyers” National Award in recognition of his success over the past 18 years, representing clients in all fifty United States and throughout the world with their U.S. immigration matters. He is a partner with the award-winning New York-based immigration law firm of Guerrero Yee LLP. He is also an Adjunct Immigration Law Professor at the CUNY School of Professional Studies in Manhattan, and Past President of the Filipino American Lawyers Association of New York. Contact him at or call (646)545-5000.

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