The United States has an extensive set of laws that control who can enter the country. If you can’t enter because one or more of these laws apply to you, you are deemed “inadmissible.” Luckily, several exceptions may allow you to receive a waiver and enter the country. To get one of these waivers, you have to fill out an application. Which application you fill out depends on why you feel you are entitled to a waiver. One such application is Form I-690 from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
What Is USCIS Form I-690?
Form I-690 is the Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility. If you face grounds for inadmissibility but are applying to adjust your status under certain sections of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), you will need to use this form. On this form, you will be able to explain why USCIS should waive your grounds for inadmissibility.
Remember that USCIS is an agency of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The DHS wants to ensure that the country does not face harm from any incoming immigrants. Inadmissibility exists to flag potentially dangerous immigration candidates. You’ll need to demonstrate that you have compelling family unity, public interest, or humanitarian reasons to get a waiver.
To figure out whether you will need to file for a waiver, read on for our detailed explanation of inadmissibility situations.
What Does Inadmissibility Mean?
If you are inadmissible to the United States, you are not in good standing with at least one of the provisions of the INA. This means that you have either committed a prohibited action or have a dangerous health condition that would threaten U.S. citizens.
A record of U.S. immigration law violations can also hold you back from receiving approval for an immigration benefit. You may be inadmissible if you unlawfully entered the United States, have a prior removal on your record, or pose a threat to national health or security. You can review the USCIS Policy Manual for a more detailed explanation of inadmissibility categories.
What Is Adjustment of Status?
Adjustment of status is a process immigrants and visitors already in the United States use to change their immigration status. If you are physically present in the United States and looking to apply for lawful permanent resident status, you will be “adjusting” your existing status. Fortunately, you won’t need to leave the United States to start the green card application process.
If you’re not in the United States, you can still initiate your application from abroad through consular processing. The U.S. Department of State is responsible for managing the consular immigrant and nonimmigrant status applications. In the consular process, you will work with your local U.S. embassy or consulate to file your application.
What Is the Immigration and Nationality Act?
The INA sets out everything you need to know about U.S. immigration law. The U.S. government enacted the INA in 1952 to organize existing immigration law provisions under the United States Code (U.S.C.). The government regularly amends the INA to reflect changes to immigration law.
Title II of the INA deals with immigration issues. Within this Title, Section 212 outlines all the reasons why a prospective immigrant might be inadmissible or ineligible to enter or stay in the United States. Typically, inadmissibility results from certain immigration law violations, health issues, criminal records, and safety threats.
Although the INA outlines grounds for inadmissibility, USCIS understands that some immigrants face exceptional circumstances. With Form I-690, you can request to waive consideration of your grounds for inadmissibility. If approved, you will be able to initiate your immigration application even if you don’t meet all standards of the INA.
Who Can Use Form I-690?
Your eligibility to seek a waiver with I-690 typically revolves around INA Section 212(a) infractions, including:
- Having a communicable disease
- Failing to meet vaccine requirements
- Having a physical or mental disorder associated with harmful behavior
- Having a history of drug addiction or abuse
- Being a public charge, meaning you would need to rely on benefits to survive in the United States
- Committing certain crimes or infractions, including prostitution, polygamy, severe violations of religious freedom, failure to attend removal proceedings, specific immigration violations, and more
If you are inadmissible for one of the above reasons, USCIS may agree to waive your inadmissibility on the basis of family unity, public interest, or humanitarian purposes. Note that under Sections 210 and 245A, Form I-690 applies only to certain agricultural workers and those who entered the United States before January 1, 1982.
Note that in some cases, you won’t need to file the form for vaccine concerns. For example, if it’s not medically appropriate for you to receive a vaccination, a physician can certify this according to Department of Health and Human Services rules. They should follow the medical examination instructions of the Health Department’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Who Can’t Use Form I-690?
Not all applicants can seek a waiver through Form I-690. You cannot use Form I-690 to apply for a waiver if your grounds for inadmissibility include any of the following:
- Crimes involving moral turpitude: These include very serious crimes such as murder, rape, incest, robbery, kidnapping, aggravated assault, spousal or child abuse, and more.
- Controlled substance violations of the laws of any country or U.S. state: Note that you may apply to waive a one-time possession of simple possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana.
- Multiple criminal convictions
- Risk of becoming a public charge: Note that USCIS will not consider temporary resident status applicants inadmissible for public charge reasons. Under the Social Security Act, blind, aged, and disabled applicants are also exempt.
- Security reasons: Security issues arise when an applicant poses a threat to U.S. security, such as seeking to enter the country to harm or overthrow the U.S. government by force, violence, or other illegal means.
Different forms may cover other grounds for inadmissibility. USCIS also offers alternative waiver application Forms I-601 and I-601A for those who do not fall under Sections 245A or 210 of the INA. Typically, applicants use Form I-601 if they are the spouse or child of a U.S. citizen or green card holder found to be inadmissible on certain grounds. This includes overstaying your visa, entering without inspection, remaining in the United States illegally for over six months, committing certain crimes, or having a serious disease.
To waive inadmissibility arising from illegal entry into the United States, you will want to submit Form I-601A. You can obtain a provisional waiver with Form I-601A if you entered illegally but have immediate relatives with U.S. citizenship or green card status. This waiver can ensure you will not need to return to your home country or face a ban on reentering the United States when you try to apply for an immigration benefit.
How Do You Fill Out Form I-690?
Form I-690 asks for the following information about yourself:
- Whether you are requesting a waiver for a permanent or temporary residence application
- Which INA provisions you have violated
- Your Alien Registration Number (A-Number), if applicable
- If you have any immediate relatives living in the United States
You’ll also need to provide your signature in black ink and the signature date. If you used an interpreter or preparer, they’ll need to sign as well.
Evidence & Translations
On your form, you must provide evidence showing that the favorable factors outweigh the unfavorable factors for granting your waiver of inadmissibility. Be sure to provide as much detail and documentation as possible to prove that your circumstances merit a waiver for humanitarian, family unity, or public interest reasons.
If any of the documents you provide are not in English, you will need to provide a translation. You must provide certified translations only. You’ll need to prove that the translator you have used is qualified to produce accurate English translations.
Filing Fee & Mailing Address
Form I-690 has a $715 filing fee. You may pay the fee with a check or money order, or credit card if filing the form at a lockbox facility. Once you have assembled your application package, you should mail it to the appropriate address. The mailing address will depend on the courier service you use.
U.S. Postal Service (USPS):
Attn: I-690 Manual Form
P.O. Box 660930
Dallas, TX 75266-0930
FedEx, UPS, and DHL:
Attn: I-690 Manual Form (Box 660930)
2501 S. State Highway 121 Business
Lewisville, TX 75067-8003
What Happens After I File Form I-690?
Once USCIS receives your Form I-690 application package, they will mail you Form I-797C, the Notice of Action. The Notice of Action will contain your application receipt number. Once you’ve received your receipt number, be sure to save it somewhere you’ll be able to access later. USCIS will allow you to use your receipt number to check in on the status of your application. You can use USCIS’s Case Status Online tool to check for updates to your application. To access updates, you’ll need your receipt number.
How To Avoid Processing Delays
USCIS will first confirm that your application is complete. You can avoid facing application decision delays by double-checking that your package contains all the necessary materials before you submit it. USCIS may ask you to provide additional information or original documents to confirm the accuracy of your application materials. You should only send in original copies if asked. Don’t initially send any original documents unless the USCIS office or I-690 instructions tell you to do so.
Note that if you move after filing your form, you’ll need to update your address with USCIS. You must notify the agency about your change of address within 10 days of moving. You can change your address on the USCIS website or by contacting USCIS’s National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you may contact 1-800-767-1833.
Attend an Interview and Biometrics Appointment
Before you can move forward with your immigration application, you may also need to attend an interview and a biometric services appointment. At an interview, you should be prepared to justify your reasons for seeking a waiver and explain why you’re applying for a particular immigration benefit or status. At a biometric services appointment, a USCIS official will take your fingerprints and photograph. USCIS will then cross-reference this information with criminal databases to make sure you do not have an undisclosed criminal record.
Once USCIS has everything it needs to consider your application, an officer will review your full package. They will inform you of their decision in writing. If approved, you’ll be able to initiate your application for an immigration benefit without worrying about inadmissibility. With your waiver, you can apply for your intended status. If you receive a waiver to move forward with a green card application, you’ll also open up pathways to naturalization.
Navigating the immigration process with inadmissibility concerns can be complicated, but working with a good immigration attorney can make it easier. If you can't afford the attorney fees and don't want to handle your case alone, we may be able to help. If you are eligible, our free web app will walk you through the process and help you prepare and file your application with the U.S. government. Click "Get Started" to see how we can help make your American dream come true!