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Chapter 3: Admissibility and Waiver Requirements

An asylee adjustment applicant must be admissible at the time USCIS grants the adjustment of status. Because an asylee is not subject to admissibility grounds at the time of the asylum grant, the adjudication of the adjustment application may be the first instance that inadmissibility grounds are considered. The applicants may be found inadmissible based on any information in the A-file or submitted with the adjustment application or through security checks. 

A. Exemptions

The following grounds of inadmissibility do not apply to asylees adjusting status:

  • Labor Certification and Qualifications for Certain Immigrants – INA 212(a)(5)

B. Applicable Inadmissibility Grounds

The following grounds of inadmissibility apply to asylees adjusting status:

  • Practicing Polygamists, Guardians Required to Accompany Helpless Persons, International Child Abductors, Unlawful Voters, and Former Citizens who Renounced Citizenship to Avoid Taxation – INA 212(a)(10) 

1. Health-Related Considerations

In some cases, a derivative asylee who had a relative petition (Form I-730) processed overseas may have had a Class A medical condition that was waived for purposes of admission as an asylee. In these instances, the waiver does not carry through to adjustment and the applicant must submit to a new medical examination to determine whether the Class A medical condition has been resolved.

2. Unlawful Presence Considerations

An unlawful presence exception applies during the period of time in which the asylee had a bona fide, pending asylum application. The time period that the applicant’s bona fide asylum application was pending should not be included in any unlawful presence calculation,[1] See INA 212(a)(9)(B). provided the applicant was not employed without authorization during such time period. Unauthorized employment would disqualify the asylee from this exception.[2] See INA 212(a)(9)(B)(iii)(II). 

While departures from the United States may trigger an unlawful presence bar, an officer may consider a waiver for unlawful presence either through submission of a waiver application (Form I-602), or in conjunction with the adjustment of status application, in instances in which a waiver application is not requested. If the officer does not request a waiver application, the officer should notate any waiver granted on the adjustment of status application. However, the Board of Immigration Appeals held on April 17, 2012 that travel on advance parole for a pending adjustment applicant will not trigger the unlawful presence bar.[3] See Matter of Arrabally and Yerrabelly, 25 I&N Dec. 771 (BIA 2012). 

C. Inadmissibility Grounds that May Not Be Waived 

While waivers are generally available for most of the grounds listed in Section B, Applicable Inadmissibility Grounds,[4] See 7 USCIS-PM M.3(B). the following grounds of inadmissibility cannot be waived:

  • Espionage; Sabotage; Illegal Export of Goods, Technology, or Sensitive Information; Unlawful Overthrow or Opposition to U.S. Government – INA 212(a)(3)(A) 

  • Terrorist Activities – INA 212 (a)(3)(B) (Note: Exemptions for some of these grounds exist)

  • Adverse Foreign Policy Impact – INA 212(a)(3)(C)

  • Participants in Nazi Persecutions or Genocide – INA 212(a)(3)(E)

An officer should deny the adjustment application where no waiver or exemption is available due to the type of inadmissibility found. 

National Security Issues

In the event that the adjudicating officer identifies at any stage one or more national security indicator(s) or concerns unknown at the time of the grant of asylum, the officer should refer to USCIS guidance on disposition of national security cases. The officer should also follow current USCIS instructions on cases that involve terrorist related grounds of inadmissibility for disposition of the case or see their supervisor for questions.

Unless a case is sent specifically to a field office for resolution of Terrorist Related Inadmissibility Ground (TRIG) issues and final adjudication of the adjustment application, an officer should return any asylee adjustment case with unresolved TRIG issues to the originating Service Center for resolution.

D. Waivers

All grounds of inadmissibility listed at Section B, Applicable Inadmissibility Grounds[5] See 7 USCIS-PM M.3(B). are subject to waiver, if the applicant can establish he or she qualifies for a waiver.

An asylee adjustment applicant may have a ground of inadmissibility waived for humanitarian purposes, to assure family unity, or when it is otherwise in the public interest. This type of waiver does not require the applicant to prove extreme hardship.

In adjudicating a discretionary waiver application for asylee adjustment, an officer must balance the humanitarian, family unity, or public interest considerations with the seriousness of the offense or conduct that rendered the applicant inadmissible. In making this determination, an officer should recognize that the applicant has already established past or a well-founded fear of future persecution, which is an extremely strong positive discretionary factor.


1. [^] 

 See INA 212(a)(9)(B).

3. [^] 

 See Matter of Arrabally and Yerrabelly, 25 I&N Dec. 771 (BIA 2012).

4. [^] 

 See 7 USCIS-PM M.3(B).

5. [^] 

 See 7 USCIS-PM M.3(B).


Date Details
March 4, 2014

Refugee and Asylee-Based Adjustment of Status under Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) Section 209

​U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to address adjustment of status applications filed by refugees and asylees under INA sections 209(a) and 209(b).

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Current as of July 1, 2014