Showing Extreme Hardship for the I-601 Waiver Process

How to show your family would experience extreme hardship if you were denied admission to the United States.

If you're applying for a green card (lawful permanent residence), you may come up against a hurdle if you are found to be inadmissible. Being inadmissible means that, despite meeting the basic eligibility requirements for the benefit you're seeking, you have some characteristic that's on the list of grounds of inadmissibility found in Section 212 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (I.N.A.). But in certain situations, people who are inadmissible can apply for a waiver, using Form I-601, basically asking U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to forgive the problem and grant the green card anyway.

In some cases, however, the waiver can only be granted based on a relationship that the intending immigrant has with a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident alien, combined with the extreme hardship that would result to those relative(s) if the immigrant were denied admission to the United States.

Common Grounds of Inadmissibility

Examples of things that might make an intending immigrant inadmissible include having committed certain crimes, committed fraud in order to obtain an immigration benefit (for example, used a tourist visa to enter the U.S. in order to get married), appearing likely to become a public charge (receive government assistance), or having stayed in the U.S. unlawfully for more than six months.

Not all grounds of inadmissibility can be waived. You'll need to talk to a lawyer for an individual analysis and a description of the exact requirements for the waiver.

Qualifying Relationships for an Extreme Hardship Waiver

Except in cases where an immigrant would face persecution upon departure from the United States, any hardship the immigrant him- or herself would undergo if refused the green card is usually ignored by the immigration laws. That's why, in order to obtain a waiver, the immigrant will likely have to show a blood relationship with, plus the likelihood of extreme hardship faced by, one of the following people, who are either U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents:

  • Spouse
  • Parent
  • Son or daughter
  • Fiance.

How Bad Is "Extreme" Hardship?

Although you might be thinking how awful it would be if, perhaps, your green card was denied and your family were separated and you had to pay for traveling and maintaining two separate homes, family separation and financial inconvenience alone will not likely be viewed as constituting extreme hardship. After all, numerous immigrants whose green cards or immigration benefits are denied face the very same thing. Your hardship isn't extreme unless it's something worse than faced by others in your shoes.

Think about issues like whether your qualifying family members would face health or medical hardship if you were separated or if that person had to relocate to your home country, and about other effects of relocation such as language or cultural barriers, the likelihood of physical harm, loss of educational and job opportunities, and so forth.

What Type of Evidence Will Show Extreme Hardship

Simply claiming, "They'll face extreme hardship!" isn't going to get you a waiver. Rather, you must provide documentary evidence that supports your claims and reasons for seeking a waiver. For example, gather:

  • Affidavits from professionals or friends who know your family situation
  • Police and other reports showing conditions in your home country
  • Medical reports and records, and descriptions of the availability of treatment and medical care in the country in which you would have to relocate (as supported by a medical professional’s statement);
  • Other evidence showing the unique impact of separation or relocation on your family.

See an Immigration Lawyer

You will likely need legal assistance in filing for a waiver of a ground of inadmissibility based on extreme hardship. Contact an experienced immigration attorney.

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