Where to Apply For a Visa if You Have Been Removed, Deported, or Living Undocumented: The I-212 Waiver For Ineligible Immigrants


Where to Apply For a Visa if You Have Been Removed, Deported, or Living Undocumented: The I-212 Waiver For Ineligible Immigrants

The I-212 Waiver can be used to let you re-enter the U.S. if you are currently ineligible to do so. Immigration law says that previous removals from the U.S., including at a port of entry or unlawful living in the U.S. makes visa applicants ineligible to re-enter the U.S. and ineligible to re-apply for a new immigrant (permanent, resident) visa. The I-212 can be used to waive your ineligibility regardless of previous removal history or history of illegal presence in the U.S.

If you were turned away at a U.S. port of entry but were not under formal removal proceedings, you do not need to file this form in order to re-apply for your visa. Likewise, if you have been deported previously but have waited the necessary amount of years before re-applying, you do not need to file this form. Applicants seeking non-immigrant visas, border crossing cards, T or U visas, and applicants with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) do not need to file this form unless they need special consent for readmission. You should file the I-212 if you are seeking an immigrant visa during a time of ineligibility or are currently ineligible for a non-immigrant visa.

The application for the ineligibility waiver is separate from your application for a visa and has some different procedures. Where you should file this form is different depending on your reason for ineligibility. There are 2 major groups of ineligibility covered by the I-212 waiver: previous removals and unlawful residence in the U.S. These 2 groups have different application procedures, so you should be clear on the grounds of your ineligibility before applying for readmission.

Ineligible applicants who have undergone removal proceedings should file the I-212 at the same time or after they apply for change of status to get their visa. If you are ineligible to readmission to the U.S. because you have been previously removed, you should file the I-212 before you return to the U.S. If your removal is active but pending, you should file the form before leaving the U.S. If you are still in the U.S., you should file your I-212 at the same U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office you file for change of status. Otherwise, file your I-212 at the office where your application is pending. For example, if you applied for your visa at the USCIS office in Ciudad Juarez and are currently residing outside the U.S., you should submit your waiver to the Ciudad Juarez office as well.

If you are currently in removal proceedings, file your waiver with the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR). The immigration court processing your removal will tell you which office to submit your I-212 waiver to and give you further or unique instructions for filing. You can file the I-212 if you are currently undergoing active removal.

If you have previously lived in the U.S. unlawfully, you must depart the U.S. before filing for readmission. There will most likely be a 10 year waiting period before you are granted readmission under the I-212 waiver.

Where you should file the I-212 visa is different. For applicants needing consent for readmission but who are applying for a non-immigrant visa, you should file your waiver with an office of the U.S. consulate. Similarly, you should file with the U.S. consulate if you are applying for an immigrant visa and are required to file the I-601 waiver at the time of your visa application. If you are not required to get a visa before entering the U.S. as a non-immigrant, you can get your border crossing card and file your waiver at the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol office at the site of entry processing your admission.

For more information and help with filing for a visa, contact immigration attorney Phillip Kim.

About the author

Staff author