How long does it take to get a decision on a 601 waiver after it is filed with immigration authorities? Well, it depends. The processing time for a 601 waiver depends on a number of factors including, but not limited to, where it was filed, the applicant’s criminal history, the applicant’s immigration history, and whether or not the applicant qualifies for a expedite of the application. For prior immigration history, such as deportation proceedings or asylum applications, the time it takes for immigration officials to obtain a copy of the record must be factored in to the total expected processing time.
601 waivers filed during the adjustment of status green card process in the United States are typically decided by the USCIS offer who is handling the adjustment application and interview. An “in-country” 601 wavier can be filed at three different times in the process. The applicant can file the 601 waiver along with the I-485 adjustment of status application, at the adjustment interview, or at a later date. If the waiver is filed prior to the date of the interview, there is a chance that the officer will already have decided whether to grant the waiver and can give you an answer in person at the adjustment of status interview. If filed at or after the interview, or if the officer has not adjudicated the already-filed application prior to the interview, it is almost impossible to predict how long it could take. Some 601 waivers can stay pending for a year or more. However, since the adjustment of status application will not have been denied yet, the person will likely be permitted to remain and work in the US during the wait.
Processing times for 601 waivers filed outside the US is likely more important to applicants as they are typically not permitted to enter the US until the waiver is approved. If the 601 waiver is filed for a green card application while outside the United States, the processing time will depend first on which USCIS field office will be deciding the waiver. For instance, a 601 waiver for an applicant filed in Brazil will then be forwarded to the USCIS office in Peru for processing. As such, the time it takes the file to go through government channels from Brazil to Peru needs to be factored in to total processing time. Once in Peru, you can expect to wait at least 6 months or more for a response. On the other hand, waivers filed in Mexico will first be evaluated by a USCIS official in Mexico and if, readily approvable, can be granted in as little as a week. If not readily approvable, however, the file may be forwarded to an office in the US or another foreign location for processing. If this happens, the decision could take as long as 18 months. Whether or not the deciding officer needs to order up a copy of a deportation record or asylum record from the US in order to evaluate the petition may also negatively affect processing time.