Validity of Nonimmigrant Waivers to Increase to Five Years

Beginning in approximately January 2017, most nonimmigrant waiver applications that are approved will be granted with validity periods of five-years. Under the current policy, initial nonimmigrant waivers are typically only granted for one or two years. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Admissibility Review Office (ARO), which is responsible for adjudicating nonimmigrant waiver requests, is implementing this policy change to help reduce the backlogs for these applications.


Certain immigration violations, such as accruing extended periods of unlawful presence or making a material misrepresentation in an attempt to secure an immigration benefit, can result in a foreign national becoming temporarily or permanently inadmissible to the United States. Similarly, engaging in certain types of criminal activity may cause one to become permanently ineligible to enter the U.S. With few exceptions, however, such a foreign national may apply for a nonimmigrant waiver that, if granted, serves to temporarily forgive the cause of inadmissibility. See the MurthyDotCom NewsBrief, Obtaining a Waiver for a Nonimmigrant (29.Sep.2014) for more details on applying for this type of waiver.

Validity Period for Waivers

Historically, nonimmigrant waivers carried an initial validity period of one to two years. Renewals typically would be extended for an additional two years, and subsequent waiver requests would often be issued with five-year periods of validity. Given the processing times, this could mean that some applicants had to submit renewal requests very shortly after obtaining an initial waiver approval. This also has led to the filing of significant numbers of nonimmigrant waiver applications, which has resulted in backlogs with the ARO.

To address these issues, effective sometime around January 2017, the ARO plans to grant most nonimmigrant waiver applications that are approved for five-year periods. This change should help reduce the number of waiver filings and, thereby, reduce the case processing backlogs. It should also serve to make the process less costly and time-consuming for nonimmigrant waiver applicants.

Resolving Long-Pending Waiver Applications

The ARO reports that the processing time for nonimmigrant waivers is currently about five-to-six months. The ARO concedes, however that some of these waiver requests are taking significantly longer. Accordingly, the ARO has put into place a policy that applies to waiver requests that have been pending for extended periods. If the attorney or applicant sends an eMail to the ARO regarding a nonimmigrant waiver application that has been pending for more than one year, the ARO will strive to complete adjudication of the case within 40-to-60 business days.


Increasing the validity period of nonimmigrant waivers is a small, but welcome, improvement to the process. Those who need assistance with applying for a nonimmigrant waiver are encouraged to schedule a consultation with a Murthy Law Firm attorney.


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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.