Showing Extreme Hardship for the I-601 Waiver Process

In certain situations, people who are inadmissible to the U.S. 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 visa or green card anyway.

By , J.D.

If you're applying for a green card (lawful permanent residence), you might come up against a hurdle if you are found to be inadmissible. That could stop your application cold; except that in some situations, a waiver of inadmissibility can be granted. In most cases, it's necessary that the intending immigrant have an existing family relationship with a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, and can show that extreme hardship would result to that U.S. relative (or relatives) if the immigrant were denied admission to the United States.

What Does It Mean to Be Inadmissible?

Being inadmissible means that, despite meeting the basic eligibility requirements for the immigration benefit you're seeking, you have some characteristic that's on the list of found in § 212 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (I.N.A.) or 8 U.S.C § 1182.

As mentioned, however, in certain situations, people who are inadmissible can apply for a waiver, usually using Form I-601. This basically asks U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to forgive the problem and grant the green card anyway.

What Are the Most 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 B-2 visitor or tourist visa to enter the U.S. in order to get married), appearing likely to become a public charge (receive financial need-based government assistance), or having stayed in the U.S. unlawfully for more than six months (which leads to time bars on reentry of three or ten years).

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.

Qualifying Relationships for an Extreme Hardship Waiver

Except in cases where an immigrant would face persecution upon departure from the United States, any hardship an immigrant would undergo if refused the green card is usually ignored by U.S. immigration law. The law basically aims to protect U.S. citizens and permanent residents from harm. 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, or
  • fiancé.

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 back and forth 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 were denied face the very same thing.

Your hardship isn't considered extreme, however, unless it's something worse than faced by others in your shoes.

Think about issues such as 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 to USCIS

Simply claiming, "My family will face extreme hardship!" isn't going to get you a waiver. Rather, you must provide documentary evidence that supports your claim and your 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 and psychiatric 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), and
  • 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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