Waivers / Visa Denials

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.

U.S. Visas | Permanent Residence | Citizenship

We help businesses, professionals, investors, families, and others worldwide.

Contact us in Beijing, Shenyang, Shanghai, or Los Angeles. Consultations in person, by phone, or by video conference.

Related articles

First Impression of Trump’s Presidential Proclamation Barring Immigrants Who Lack “Approved” Health Insurance

As an immigration lawyer, I'm writing with my first impressions of President Trump's Oct. 4 proclamation barring issuance of immigrant visas to applicants with no "approved" health insurance ...
Read More

U.S. Restricts Visas for Chinese Officials Responsible for Xinjiang Repression

On October 8, the U.S. State Department announced visa restrictions on Chinese government and Communist Party officials responsible for, or complicit in, repression of Uighurs and other Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang region ...
Read More

“Administrative Processing”: a Black Hole for Visa Applicants

For the uninitiated, "administrative processing" is State Department-speak for a temporary visa refusal pending further investigation of a visa application. (9 FAM Appendix E, 404). The applicant typically learns of the temporary refusal when, at the conclusion of the interview, the consular officer issues a written notice stating that under ...
Read More

New DHS Public Charge Rule

On August 14, 2019, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a final rule governing the public charge grounds of inadmissibility, found at section 212(a)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Unless litigation halts implementation of the rule, it will go into effect after 60 days, on October ...
Read More

Asking a Member of Congress for Help with Your Immigration Case

A member of the U.S. Congress may be willing to inquire with a Federal immigration agency, such as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the U.S. Department of State (DOS), if you are having problems with your case ...
Read More

Findream LLC Operator Indicted for OPT-Related Scam

The below July 26, 2019, press release is from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Huang Weiyun has been indicted on allegations that, among other things, she sold letters falsely verifying that F-1 students were eligible for optional practical training (OPT) based on employment with her company, Findream LLC ...
Read More

New Social Media Question on Visa Application Forms

On May 31, 2019, the U.S. State Department updated its immigrant and nonimmigrant visa application forms to request social media usernames from most immigrant and nonimmigrant visa applicants worldwide ...
Read More

Students and Exchange Visitors Face Harsh New “Unlawful Presence” Rule from Trump Administration

May 3, 2019 Update: The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina today issued a nationwide preliminary injunction that temporarily prevents the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from enforcing the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) August 8, 2018 policy memo that sought to change how days ...
Read More

Marijuana Use Still Can Lead to Denial of Naturalization

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reminded its officers this week that violation of federal controlled substance law, including for marijuana, is still a basis for denying naturalization. This is true, even if such activity is not unlawful under applicable state or foreign law ...
Read More

The Proposed Changes to Public Charge: What You Need to Know

Over the weekend, the Trump administration took steps to radically transform a little-known provision of immigration law that could have an outsized impact on legal immigration. In proposed regulations posted on Saturday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) indicated that it would redefine the legal term “public charge” to block ...
Read More