Exciting & Favorable Changes at the ARO

At a recent liaison meeting between AILA and the CBP Office of Field Operations, CBP’s ARO announced a significant change in practice.

  • Beginning in January 2017, the ARO will approve all I-192 waivers – initial waivers and renewals – for a 5 year period, with limited exceptions.
  • For individuals with waivers pending for over 1 year, the ARO will issue a decision within 40-60 business days after receiving a follow-up inquiry from the applicant or attorney of record.

AILA/CBP Office of Field Operations Liaison Meeting (April 6, 2016).

As background, CBP’s Admissibility Review Office (ARO) is responsible for adjudicating all nonimmigrant waivers – I-192 waiver applications filed by Canadians at a port of entry and waivers requested in conjunction with nonimmigrant visa applications at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. They are currently processing these types of waivers in approximately 4-6 months. However, some applicants face much longer processing times – some as long as a year or two – and there is no way to expedite these requests. [The relationship between petition approvals, waiver approvals and visa reciprocity schedules further complicates matters for those in need of a nonimmigrant waiver.]

The ARO’s internal policies are a significant factor as to why they are facing such a backlog in adjudicating these waiver applications. For Canadians, the ARO has historically only issued initial nonimmigrant waivers for a 1 or 2 year validity period, requiring many applicants to file a new application almost immediately after their first waiver is approved because of lengthy processing times. With the first renewal application, the ARO would usually issue renewals for a 2-3 year validity period, and with some exceptions for 5 years. Subsequent renewals are usually granted in 5 year increments. Accordingly, a waiver applicant would typically need to apply for their initial waiver and two subsequent renewals before generally being granted a maximum 5 year nonimmigrant waiver. Thus, applicants would need to apply for three waivers (at a cost of $585/application in government filing fees) in less than 3 years and the ARO would be adjudicating the same case three times within a 3 year period.

If you are Canadian citizen in need of an I-192 nonimmigrant waiver to enter the U.S., now is an especially good time to start working on obtaining your waiver. Notably, earlier this year, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposed to increase the filing fee for I-192 waivers to $930 – nearly double the current $585 filing fee. [There is no filing fee for applicants applying for waivers at U.S. consulates abroad.] Canadians considering applying for nonimmigrant waivers should also be aware that RCMP reports (required for the waiver application process) are currently talking 3-4 months to process.

The SRW Border Lawyer team has extensive experience assisting individuals with obtaining I-192 waivers. If you would like to discuss the I-192 waiver application process and the services provided by our team, please call our office at 716-854-7525 or fill out our contact form to schedule a consultation.