Alright, this is a short and dirty posting today. I was doing research online, and noticed that there is a dearth of “how to” guides on 212(h) waivers. The 212(h) waiver is valid for LPR’s who originally adjusted their status while in the US. Although 212(h) was designed for first time applicants, it is most often used (in the immigration court context) by LPR’s who are returning from overseas, are stopped at the border by CBP (Custom and Border Protection).
Section 212(h) of the Immigration and Nationality Act provides that the Attorney General may, in his/her discretion, waive the application of subparagraph 212(a)(2)(A)(I) (crimes involving moral turpitude), 212(a)(2)(B) (multiple criminal convictions), 212(a)(2)(D) (prostitution and commercial vice), 212(a)(2)(E) (certain aliens who have asserted immunity from prosecution), and 212(a)(2)(A)(i)(II) (an offense of simple possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana). See, EOIR Judge’s Benchbook regarding 212(h) relief. Additionally, In Matter of J-H-J-, 26 I.&N. Dec. 563 (BIA 2015), the waiver was extended to individuals who are convicted of aggravated felonies.
There are two types of 212(h) defenses:
1. If your client has been in the US for 15 years or more, BEFORE the filing of the 212(h). Note, this is NOT before the commission of the crime (or conviction thereof), rather before the 212(h) is filed.
2. If your client has NOT been in the US for 15 years, then he/she can file for a 212(h) on a showing of extreme hardship to a US Citizen of LPR family member. This is the same standard as the I-601.
To request type (2) relief above in immigration court, the attorney must file an I-601 with USCIS including paying the appropriate filing fees. Proof of payment of the fees, along with proof of mailing, is sufficient to initiate a 212(h) defense in the Court. You need to submit the filed I-601 and proof of payment (copy of the check and proof of mailing is usually sufficient), to request this relief.
No filing with USCIS is required when requesting 212(h) relief of type (1) above, as no hardship must be shown. This is merely an alternative to LPR cancellation.
Given that the LPR is likely detained (arriving aliens cannot get bond), make sure you have a 212(h)/601 application ready at the first hearing. This will allow you to request the earliest possible trial (merit’s hearing) date.