In January 2013, the US Department of State's National Visa Center (NVC) began sending letters to many prospective immigrants about the "I-601A PROVISIONAL WAIVER OF UNLAWFUL PRESENCE." This letter is scaring the living daylights out of thousands of immigrants. At Fong & Aquino in Los Angeles and Palm Springs, I have fielded about one hundred inquiries about this letter.
The first and most important thing to remember is: this letter and the I-601A Provisional Waiver ONLY -- repeat ONLY -- apply to a future immigrant if s/he is currently in the USA unlawfully, or has been unlawfully present in the USA in the past. Someone is illegally present if s/he enters the USA without inspection at a border post or airport, or if the person enters legally and then overstays the time granted on their landing permit.
If the future immigrant has never -- ever -- been in the USA, this letter and the I-601A waiver does not apply to him/her.
For some people who do indeed need the waiver -- if they overstayed or entered without any papers -- they should take a look at my blog from earlier this month.
If you have questions about whether you or a relative might need an I-601 or an I-601A waiver, it is very important to consult with a competent immigration attorney. --jcf