212C WAIVER, OR APPLICATION FOR RELIEF FROM CRIMINAL CONVICTION
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The Immigration and Nationality Act was first enacted in 1952. It greatly reorganized the whole structure of immigration law in the United States. It has also been amended many times since its inception and now contains many of the most important aspects of immigration appeals, waivers, and other actions. One of these important waivers that has seen significant change over the years is the 212c waiver.
The former section 212 c of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) allowed lawful permanent residents convicted of certain crimes to apply for relief from removal proceedings and inadmissibility. While other methods are more popular now, the 212c waiver is still used today. If you are an immigrant who is facing deportation proceedings, you still have options. Contact a Phoenix immigration lawyer with Ybarra Maldonado Law Group for insight on how you can proceed with your 212c application. To schedule a consultation with us, please call our office at 602-910-4040 today.
What Is a 212c Waiver?
Basically, a former section 212 c waiver allows longtime lawful permanent residents (green card holders or LPRs) to avoid removal proceedings that were initiated because they pled guilty to a criminal conviction in the past. Specifically, the waiver allows eligible lawful permanent residents to avoid deportation proceedings if they pleaded guilty to a crime before April 1, 1997.
The Supreme Court held in a 2001 decision that former section 212 c of the Immigration and Naturalization Act should be repealed. Additionally, the Supreme Court issued the statement that the repealed former section 212 c was in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act.
Importantly, the waiver specifically gives the United States attorney general broader discretion under which they can allow a lawful permanent resident to remain in the country. This is true even if they have committed a removable or inadmissible offense.
Can I Still Get Relief from a 212c Waiver?
Yes. As long as your criminal convictions occurred before April 1, 1997, you can still apply for 212 c relief. You must also not have served more than five years in prison for the conviction. In certain jurisdictions, you can seek relief regardless of whether you plead guilty or not.
Keep in mind, however, that relief under former section 212 c is a discretionary decision by an immigration judge. This means that they have the final say as to whether or not to grant these immigration appeals. In order to give yourself a better chance at being granted a waiver, we strongly recommend working with an experienced immigration attorney. This will ensure that the evidence in your case is as strong as possible.
An immigration judge will take even the most minute details into consideration when deciding whether or not to grant a waiver for long-ago criminal convictions. This is why presenting strong evidence of your good moral character and community ties is so important.
How to File a 212c Waiver Application
To apply for 212 c relief, you must submit Form I-191, Application for Relief Under Former Section 212c of the INA. You will need to submit the form to either the Immigration Board or the Board of Immigration Appeals. Whichever entity had your case last is the one you will submit the form to.
Who Qualifies for a 212c Waiver?
In order to qualify for relief under former section 212 c, lawful permanent resident immigrants must meet the following eligibility requirements.
- The individual has left the United States and is currently applying from outside the country.
- They are unlawfully present in the United States.
- They have not been convicted of certain crimes, such as crimes involving firearms, explosive devices, aggravated felonies, espionage, treason, or crimes involving moral turpitude for which the sentence was a year or more in prison.
Depending on when a lawful permanent resident received their aggravated felony conviction (or other conviction), they may need to meet other requirements as well. We strongly recommend speaking with a qualified immigration lawyer about your case. This way, you can avoid costly mistakes when applying for relief under former section 212 c.
How to Apply for Relief with a 212c Waiver
After you consult with an attorney and determine your eligibility, you should prepare to file your waiver application. Immigration judges will take both positive and negative factors into account when deciding whether or not to grant your waiver. The more positive factors you can show, the better your chances of having your application approved. Below, we list important positive evidence to include when you apply for relief under former section 212 c relief.
- Family ties in the United States
- Being a long time resident of the United States for seven consecutive years
- Showing that extreme hardship would fall on you or your family if you were deported
- Proof of property ownership
- Proof of business ties
- Showing ties to the community
- Evidence of rehabilitation and good moral character
How Long Do I Have to Apply for 212c Relief?
Technically, applying for relief with a 212 c waiver has no set deadline. However, immigration court judges will likely take into account the amount of time you waited before seeking relief. In other words, the sooner someone seeks relief after deportation proceedings commenced, the better. Lawful permanent residents who are facing removal proceedings should contact an immigration lawyer as soon as possible.
This way, they can build a strong case and gather as much evidence as possible to support their application for relief. The attorneys at Ybarra Maldonado Law Group have extensive experience with deportation defense, as well as other issues concerning immigration law.
How Does the Immigration Court Judge Decide on Applications?
As we stated previously, the immigration judge will take many factors into consideration when deciding whether to grant your request. One does not automatically have their criminal record waived just because they qualify for the waiver. Judges take into consideration the positive factors we mentioned above, as well as any negative factors. Some factors that may work against you include the following.
- If you pleaded guilty to a very serious offense, rather than relatively minor offenses. Examples include anything that counts as an aggravated felony or a crime involving moral turpitude.
- How recently did the plea agreement occur? Was it within the last year, or was it more than a decade ago? Judges will almost always consider how recently the conviction occurred.
- They will also consider any evidence of bad moral character.
What if My Request Is Granted?
If you are granted 212 c relief, you will be allowed to keep your green card and remain in the United States as a lawful permanent resident. Immigration law can be very complicated, which is why we always recommend working with an attorney before you begin your application.
What if My Request Is Denied?
If the immigration judge denies your request, you may have a chance to appeal the decision. The only reasons for which a decision could be appealed are factual errors and legal errors. Simply disagreeing with a decision does not constitute sufficient grounds for an appeal in this case.
How Much Does 212c Relief Cost to Apply?
Currently, the filing fee for 212 c relief is $930. It is unlikely that you will qualify for a fee waiver, but you can always ask your attorney about this option. Also, keep in mind that any legal fees that you incur during the application process will be separate from the filing fee.
Contact Ybarra Maldonado Law Group Today
At Ybarra Maldonado Law Group, we understand how difficult it can be to navigate certain immigration processes on your own. This is especially true if you are facing deportation or another stressful event. Working with a Phoenix immigration attorney can help you avoid costly mistakes when applying for relief, as well as gather all necessary evidence to support your case. Let our skilled attorneys help you fight for your legal rights. Call our office today at 602-910-4040 to schedule a consultation about your immigration waivers.