How Do I Get an Alien Smuggling Waiver?

Truck driver standing in front of his truck looking at the camera with crossed arms.

For both Americans and immigrants alike, alien smuggling charges can cause long-lasting damage in the form of steep fines, jail time, and revocation of your rights. You may have heard that there is such a thing as a waiver of inadmissibility for smuggling charges that can help you avoid severe state and federal charges, but how do you get an alien smuggling waiver?

Javier Guzman is a Laredo federal defense attorney who takes complex federal cases to court for his clients and wins them. He knows what it takes to beat an alien smuggling case, and is here to talk to you about all things alien smuggling waivers.

If you or a loved one is facing alien smuggling charges in Texas, you need to act fast. These cases are prosecuted aggressively and both state and federal courts have little patience for the accused. You need to hire a skilled defense attorney to begin building your defense today if you want a chance at protecting your freedom. Call Javier Guzman of Guzman Law Firm today at (956) 516-7198 to do just that. 

What is a waiver of inadmissibility? 

A waiver of inadmissibility, within the context of human smuggling charges, is a legal mechanism that allows certain people to overcome specific grounds of inadmissibility for committing a human smuggling crime. What does being inadmissible mean? A person who is inadmissible is not permitted by law to enter or remain lawfully in the United States. 

Generally, noncitizens of the United States convicted of committing human smuggling or smuggling of persons offenses are in danger of being considered inadmissible. 

Essentially, a waiver of inadmissibility is an application to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that asks that you not be considered inadmissible for the commission of a human smuggling offense under very specific circumstances. Receiving an alien smuggling waiver is not considered an automatic entitlement, but rather a potential remedy for those who can demonstrate that their presence is not a threat to the safety, security, or integrity of their host country.

Who is eligible to apply for a discretionary waiver for alien smuggling?

Who qualifies for a 601 waiver? Not everyone charged with alien smuggling will be eligible for a waiver of inadmissibility. The eligibility criteria are stringent and qualification will depend on your background, the nature of the offense, and other relevant factors. There are two basic requirements for the discretionary waiver:

  1. The person applying for the waiver must be either a lawful permanent resident who temporarily traveled abroad voluntarily OR a person applying for a green card based on a family-based petition; AND
  2. The person must be accused of smuggling only their spouse, parent, or child. 

After meeting these basic requirements for the discretionary waiver, they must then argue to the adjudicator that they deserve the waiver based on one of the following grounds*:

  • Humanitarian purposes, which can include things like insufficient medical care or clear and present danger in their home country. 
  • Assurance of family unity, which applies to people leaving behind spouses or children in their home country. 
  • Otherwise in the public interest, which could be an active member of the church, the leader of an important family business, or someone that the community would otherwise miss the presence of. 

Although the 601 waiver specifically does not apply to anyone outside of these incredibly narrow requirements for eligibility, there are other possible general inadmissibility waivers, as well as the Family Unity Program exemption. 

Anyone accused of human smuggling should make sure to work with a trusted federal attorney to make sure that they are taking advantage of all possible exemptions and building the strongest possible defense. 

*Examples all provided by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center

Can you get deported for smuggling?

Yes. The consequences for alien smuggling are severe, and deportation is a real possibility for people charged with an alien smuggling offense. Deportation is an unfortunately common outcome for those found guilty of facilitating the illegal entry of other immigrants into the United States.

The deportation process typically involves a number of separate legal proceedings, during which the accused should have the opportunity to present their case — but you cannot expect a fair fight, and the chances of successfully avoiding deportation shrink significantly without a waiver of inadmissibility. 

Immigration authorities are famously inflexible on offenses related to alien smuggling due to the potential for human trafficking, exploitation, and the compromise of national security. This is why anyone facing deportation because of alien smuggling charges should hire experienced and aggressive attorneys to defend their freedom — attorneys like Javier Guzman. 

What is the punishment for an alien smuggling charge?

Punishments for human smuggling charges are always steep, even for those accused of first-time alien smuggling or harboring illegal immigrants in Texas; people are often surprised that the penalties for hiring illegal immigrants in Texas can be as severe as the penalties for helping them across the border yourself, but you can wind up in a similar situation for concealing any illegal aliens from discovery. 

OffenseChargeMaximum fineMaximum jail sentence
Smuggling not for profitThird-degree felony$250,000Up to 5 years
Smuggling for profitSecond-degree felony$250,000Up to 10 years
Smuggling involving serious bodily injurySecond-degree felony$250,000Up to 20 years
Smuggling involving deathFirst-degree felony$250,000Life in prison

As you can see, there are often hefty fines and jail time on the line, and that is before even considering immigration implications for residents and those looking to become residents.

Have questions about alien smuggling waivers? Guzman Law Firm can help. 

Alien smuggling charges are incredibly complex affairs that often take place in multiple courts and involve many government agencies. Adding in possible status as inadmissible and including the immigration consequences can fill this already fraught landscape with even more landmines for the accused. 

Generally speaking, if you need an alien smuggling waiver, you also need a lawyer who can help you get one. Your attorney can assist you in navigating the incredible challenges presented for immigrants trying to maintain their residency in the face of criminal charges and make sure that your rights are defended under unbelievable pressure. 

Whether you’re a truck driver facing an alien smuggling charge or are being accused of drug trafficking in Texas, Javier Guzman of Guzman Law Firm is here to help. Call Guzman Law Firm today at (956) 516-7198 or contact us online to begin defending your life. 

More Helpful Articles by Guzman Law Firm: