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Chapter 2 - Forms of Relief

A. Waivers

In general, applicants for immigration benefits must establish that they are admissible to the United States. If an applicant for an immigration benefit is inadmissible to the United States, USCIS may only grant the benefit if the applicant receives a waiver of inadmissibility or another form of relief provided in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). [1] In general, if the INA uses the term waiver, the applicant must apply for the waiver by filing the correct application.

USCIS may only grant a waiver if the applicant meets all statutory and regulatory requirements.

There are instances in which an officer may adjudicate a waiver without asking the applicant to file a form. For example, an officer may adjudicate certain waivers of inadmissibility for a refugee or an asylee seeking adjustment of status without the applicant filing a waiver application. In these circumstances, the officer must still clearly document the waiver determination in the record.

B. Exceptions or Exemptions

A statute may provide for an exception or exemption from a ground of inadmissibility. [2] If the alien’s action or circumstance meets the requirements of an exception or exemption, then the ground of inadmissibility does not apply and the alien is not inadmissible on that ground. Unlike a waiver, an exemption or exception generally does not require that an alien file an application.

C. Consent to Reapply

Permission to reapply for admission into the United States after deportation or removal, also known as “consent to reapply,” is not a waiver. [3] Consent to reapply is a distinct remedy that permits an alien to seek admission. If the statute specifies that the alien must obtain consent to reapply to overcome the inadmissibility, a waiver of inadmissibility is not a substitute for consent to reapply. [4] 


[^ 1] See Pub. L. 82-414 (June 27, 1952).

[^ 2] Exception and exemption both mean that the specific inadmissibility ground does not apply if the applicant establishes that the terms of the exception or exemption apply.

[^ 3] See Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the United States After Deportation or Removal (Form I-212) (used to seek consent to reapply). See the form instructions for more information.

[^ 4] See INA 212(a)(9)(A). See INA 212(a)(9)(C)


Legal Authorities

8 CFR 212.7 - Waiver of certain grounds of inadmissibility

INA 207, 8 CFR 207 - Annual admission of refugees and admission of emergency situation refugees

INA 209, 8 CFR 209 - Adjustment of status of refugees and asylees

INA 210, 8 CFR 210 - Special agricultural workers

INA 211, 8 CFR 211 - Admission of immigrants into the United States

INA 212, 8 CFR 212 - Excludable aliens

INA 214, 8 CFR 214 - Admission of nonimmigrants

INA 244, 8 CFR 244 - Temporary protected status

INA 2458 CFR 245 - Adjustment of status of nonimmigrant to that of person admitted for permanent residence

INA 245A, 8 CFR 245a - Adjustment of status of certain entrants before January 1, 1982 to that of person admitted for lawful residence


No appendices available at this time.


Technical Update - Moving the Adjudicator’s Field Manual Content into the USCIS Policy Manual

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating and incorporating relevant Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM) content into the USCIS Policy Manual. As that process is ongoing, USCIS has moved any remaining AFM content to its corresponding USCIS Policy Manual Part, in PDF format, until relevant AFM content has been properly incorporated into the USCIS Policy Manual. To the extent that a provision in the USCIS Policy Manual conflicts with remaining AFM content or Policy Memoranda, the updated information in the USCIS Policy Manual prevails. To find remaining AFM content, see the crosswalk (PDF, 327.05 KB) between the AFM and the Policy Manual.

Technical Update - Replacing the Term “Foreign National”

This technical update replaces all instances of the term “foreign national” with “alien” throughout the Policy Manual as used to refer to a person who meets the definition provided in INA 101(a)(3) [“any person not a citizen or national of the United States”].

POLICY ALERT - Waiver Policies and Procedures

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance to address the general policies and procedures applicable to the adjudication of waivers of inadmissibility.

Read More