The HMA Law FirM


Form I-191 allows an LPR (lawful permanent resident, or green card holder) to apply for permission to return to the US or avoid deportation. It is a waiver under the former Section 212(c) for certain convicted felons.

You may apply for an I-191 if: 

  1. You were an LPR
  2. You are subject to removal from the US for a conviction prior to April 1, 1997.

Note: Section 212(c) was actually repealed in 1996. However, under a 2001 Supreme Court decision, it continues to be available for those with convictions prior to April 1, 1997. Here we will explain when and how to fill a 212(c) waiver form I-191.

Why would you need it?

If the following conditions apply, you are eligible for a relief under Form I-191:

  1. You are lawfully admitted as permanent resident.
  2. You continue to be an LPR.
  3. The US must have been your domicile for at least seven consecutive years before filing.
  4. You were convicted of a crime that made you removable before April 1, 1997.
  5. You were eligible for relief under the former INA section 212(c) in effect when you were convicted.

Instructions to file a Form I-191

USCIS provides the Form I-191 through its website. You can download it here. (Though we do not recommend it, if you want a physical form, you can call the USCIS customer service center at 1-800-375-5283 and ask for one to be mailed to you. Note: never pay for the form itself!) Each application must be submitted with its filing fee ($930). You must submit all evidence needed for the waiver. Further, USCIS may require a biometric appointment. It will inform you in writing if you need to attend.

The form I-191 has twelve parts:

Part 1: Personal information. Here, you must provide:

  • Full name
  • Birthdate
  • Alien registration number (if any)
  • USCIS online account number (if any)
  • Place of birth (city, state/province, country)
  • Nationality
  • Mailing address
  • Physical address
  • Date when you became an LPR and how
  • Passport number
  • Departures and returns to the US

Part 2. Biographic information.

  • Ethnicity and race
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Eye and hair color

Part 3: Information about criminal convictions.

All requested information should be on court documents regarding each conviction. Yet, the form has space for three convictions, but you must list them all. Further, this includes convictions abroad.

Part 4: Information about your residence.

Here, you must provide information about where you lived in the last seven years. Yet, you must start with most recent residencies.

Part 5. Information about your employment

Here, you must list all your employments in the last seven years. It must include part-time jobs.

Part 6. Information about your family.

Include information about your spouse, children, and parents.

Part 7. Other grounds of removal.

You must state if you are subject to removal due to any other reasons beyond those in Part 3.

Part 8. Discretion

Form I-191 can only be approved if your application has more favorable than unfavorable factors.

Some unfavorable factors might be:

  • Your criminal record
  • Other grounds of removal
  • Bad character

Favorable factors can be:

  • Family ties in the US
  • Length of lawful residence
  • Hardship to you or your family
  • Service in the US military
  • Lawful employment
  • Proof of rehabilitation
  • Good character

Part 9: Applicant’s statement

This section must include your signature and contact information. It must state if you read the Form I-191 or had an interpreter.

Part 10. Interpreter’s statement

It only applies if you had an interpreter. It must include his signature, signature, and contact info.

Part 11. Preparer’s statement

See above

Part 12. Additional information

If you need extra space for any of the above, use the space provided here.

A properly filed Form I-191 can make a difference. And filing it improperly, without knowing whether you qualify, can lead to being placed in removal proceedings.

As such, do not attempt to file by yourself without talking to a lawyer first.

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