I-212 Waiver / "Permission to Reapply" after Deportation

People who have been deported or ordered removed from the U.S. may not lawfully return to the U.S. for a specified period of time.1 If they wish to do so before that time period is up they must seek a waiver from the U.S. government. This waiver is known as an I-212 waiver or “permission to reapply.”

I-212 waivers are discretionary. This means the government is under no obligation to grant permission for a deported alien to reapply for entry.

Factors that go into the government's decision include:

  • The applicant's criminal and immigration history, 
  • Evidence of moral character and rehabilitation, and
  • Hardship to family members lawfully present in the United States.

To help you better understand when the U.S. government will approve an I-212 waiver, our California immigration lawyers discuss, below:

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Seal with over words "U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services"

1. What is an I-212 waiver?

An I-212 waiver allows someone who has been deported from the U.S. to apply lawfully for permission to enter before their period of ineligibility is up. The full name of an I-212 waiver is a “Reapplication for Admission After a Prior Deportation Order.”

2. Who must request permission to reapply using an I-212 waiver?

People who have been deported or who left the U.S. on their own after being ordered deported are generally prohibited from returning for the following time periods:

5 years

  • Anyone ordered deported in an expedited removal proceeding, or 
  • Anyone ordered deported in a regular removal proceeding that was initiated upon their arrival in the U.S.

10 years

  • Anyone otherwise deported after a regular immigration hearing, or 
  • Anyone who left the United States while an order of removal was outstanding.

20 years

  • Anyone deported or ordered deported a second or subsequent time.

Forever (permanently inadmissible)

  • Anyone deported for an “aggravated felony,”
  • Anyone who was unlawfully present in the U.S. for more than one year in the aggregate before being ordered deported, or
  • Anyone who entered or attempted to enter the U.S. unlawfully after a previous removal order.

3. Who does not need to apply for an I-212 waiver?

Certain people who are or were inadmissible to the U.S. do not need to apply for an I-212 waiver. They include (without limitation):

  • People whose inadmissibility period has expired;
  • People who were refused entry at the border but not formally removed;
  • People who were allowed by a judge to voluntarily depart the United States and who did so on a timely basis; and
  • Certain people who qualify for relief through a program such as:
    • The Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA);
    • The Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act of 1998 (HRIFA);
    • “T” or “U” Visas; or
    • The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

4. What if the time period of my inadmissibility has passed?

People who have remained outside the United States for their entire inadmissibility period do not need an I-212 permission to reapply. They must still return to the U.S. lawfully, however, through a U.S. port-of-entry and in accordance with proper procedures.

Anyone who enters the U.S. without being inspected and properly admitted will once again become inadmissible, even if their original inadmissibility period has expired.

5. Can I get an I-212 waiver if I am permanently inadmissible to the U.S.?

People who are permanently inadmissible following a deportation can apply for an I-212 waiver if:

  • They have remained outside the U.S. for at least 10 years since their departure, or
  • They qualify for relief as a refugee or victim of domestic violence under certain U.S. or international programs. 
Man and woman behind bars but holding their hands our for relief

6. Do I need an I-212 waiver if I previously left the U.S. voluntarily?

An alien who left the U.S. by voluntary departure does not need to apply for permission to reapply for admission.

Note that it does not count as voluntary departure if someone left the country on his or her own while under a deportation order or after being served with a Notice to Appear.

7. How does the government decide whether to let me reapply for admission?

I-212 waivers are discretionary (optional).

Factors the government will consider when deciding whether to grant one include:

  • The reason the alien was deported.
  • How long ago the alien was deported.
  • The length of the alien's lawful residence in the U.S. (if any).
  • The applicant's moral character and respect for law and order
  • Evidence of reformation and rehabilitation
  • Whether the applicant is inadmissible to the U.S. under other sections of law
  • The applicant's family responsibilities in the United States
  • Hardship to family members who are lawfully present in the U.S.
  • The need for the applicant to work in the U.S.

8. Where do I file my completed permission to reapply form?

The location where an applicant needs to file an I-212 waiver application depends on whether the applicant also requires additional relief -- for instance, if the applicant was deported for fraud.

If the applicant is outside of the country and there are no other issues, the applicant will send the application to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office in the jurisdiction where the original deportation proceedings were held.

Applicants who are ineligible by reason of prior fraud may also need to obtain an I-601 waiver. In such case both forms should be filed with the U.S. Consulate where the applicant lives.

Visa-exempt applicants can file their I-212 applications with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) at a U.S. Port of Entry (“POE”) or another designated pre-clearance office. CBP will then forward the application to the CBP Admissibility Review Office ("ARO") for a decision.

9. How much does an I-212 waiver cost?

The current cost to apply for an I-212 waiver is $930.

If biometric services (discussed below) are required, there is an additional fee.

digital fingerprint
Some I-212 applicants require "biometrics" such as fingerprinting

10. Is a background check required for permission to reapply?

USCIS conducts a background and security check in connection with I-212 waiver applications. It includes a search of criminal history records maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI).

Applicants may also be required to appear in-person at the USCIS office or an Application Support Center (ASC) for a brief “biometric” services appointment (approximately 15 minutes, plus any wait time).

“Biometrics” refers to the use of physiological data to confirm someone's identity. It includes fingerprints, photographs and an in-person interview signature.

USCIS may or may not require a biometric services appointment for applications filed directly with USCIS. If one is required, the applicant will receive notice containing the location and date of the appointment as well as fee information.

Applicants who do not file their Form I-212 directly with the USCIS should inquire at the time of filing whether a biometric services appointment is required.

Failure to attend the biometric services appointment, if required, may result in denial of an I-212 application.

11. Where can I get an I-212 application form?

Visit the USCIS website to find the I-212 Application Form and/or Instructions for Application for Permission to Re-apply for Admission Into the United StatesAfter Deportation or Removal.

Or contact our office for a free consultation to learn how we can help with your I-212 waiver or other immigration matters.

Need a California immigration lawyer? Call us….

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If you or someone you know needs help with an immigration matter we invite you to contact us for a free consultation.

Our California criminal and immigration lawyers represent clients throughout the state with visa applications, adjustment of status, and avoiding the consequences of deportable crimes and inadmissible crimes.

Call us at (855) 396-0370 or complete the form on this page to speak to an experienced immigration attorney in California.

And if you require assistance with criminal defense or immigration in Nevada, we have offices in Las Vegas and Reno to serve your needs.


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