Visa Ineligibility & Waivers

To be issued a visa and enter the United States, a foreign national must generally not be ineligible for admission (also known as “inadmissible”). Even after a foreign national has been determined to be ineligible, it may be possible to apply for a waiver (akin to a pardon). The requirements for a waiver depend on the type of ineligibility. Common requirements for waivers include one or more of the following:

  1. The applicant has a “qualifying relative”
  2. That relative would suffer extreme hardship if the applicant were denied the visa
  3. The applicant deserves the waiver as a matter of discretion

Common ineligibilities and corresponding waivers can be divided into the following  categories :


Medical-related grounds212(g)
Crime-related grounds212(h)
Security-related grounds covering Communist Party members seeking immigrant visas
Prior J-1 exchange visitors subject to the two-year foreign residence requirement
Illegal immigrants and immigration law violators, including fraud or misrepresentation214(i) waivers for fraud or misrepresentation
Persons previously removed or unlawfully present in the U.S.I-212 permission to reapply after removal; Waivers of the 3- and 10-year unlawful presence bars
Prior J-1 exchange visitors subject to the two-year foreign residence requirementNo objection, hardship, and persecution waivers

In addition, a 212(d)(3) waiver will waive most ineligibilities in connection with an application for a temporary visa.

For more, read about the grounds of inadmissibility and your options after a consular officer denies your visa application.

Schedule a consultation with an immigration lawyer in Beijing, Shenyang, Shanghai, or Los Angeles; or by phone, Skype, WeChat, or FaceTime. Our goal is to become your trusted legal adviser.

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