There are many credible reports that USCIS is denying applications for provisional waivers because it has “reason to believe” that just about any arrest would make the person inadmissible for other than unlawful presence grounds. This is a worrisome development, but I think it’s a training issue that’ll be quickly corrected. Allow me to explain.
The provisional wavier regulations allow USCIS to deny a provisional waiver if it has “reason to believe” that the Applicant will be inadmissible for other than unlawful presence. That’s the reason why provisional waiver applicants must be fingerprinted: so that USCIS may review the person’s criminal and immigration background. So, for example, if USCIS discovers during the background check that the applicant was once caught smuggling undocumented aliens, USCIS must deny the provisional waiver because the applicant would be inadmissible as an alien smuggler. It gets trickier, however.
USCIS is apparently denying provisional waivers for *any* irregularity discovered during the background check. There are reports of denials based on a past DUI conviction (not a ground of inadmissibility), for having been caught trying to enter the US illegally, for traffic infractions that resulted in arrests, and for many other offenses that clearly don’t trigger any reasons of inadmissibility. It’s obvious that any harmless IAFIS or IDENT hit may cause a denial of a provisional waiver.
And that’s why I think it’s a training issue and not USCIS policy. All the reasons mentioned in the above are reasons that have long been established to be harmless for immigration purposes: attorneys know that and seasoned USCIS officers know too. I hope USCIS corrects this issue soon so that it makes the provisional waiver program the success it ought to be.