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Extreme Hardship: Proving Eligibility for an I-601 Waiver

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What is an I-601 Waiver?

If the USCIS finds you inadmissible to the United States or you need to adjust your status due to certain immigration violations, you may be eligible to file an I-601 Form. The application is a Waiver for Grounds for Inadmissibility, which allows the USCIS to waive specific inadmissibility grounds based on extreme hardship to your lawful permanent resident or US citizen spouse or parent.

Proving extreme hardship can be challenging. As an I-601 applicant, you must demonstrate how leaving the US would cause severe difficulties or suffering for your family members. Skilled immigration lawyers in Chicago can gather the hardship details around your case and help you write a hardship letter, which is the deciding factor in your case.

However, it’s crucial to note that Form I-601 doesn’t waive all possible grounds of inadmissibility. Some grounds can’t be waived, no matter the circumstances. So, you need to be well-informed before applying.

What Are the Qualifications for an I-601 Waiver?

Chicago immigration appeals attorneys advise that you may qualify to file for an I-601 waiver if:

  • You’re outside of the US
  • You’re applying for a K, V, or immigrant visa
  • You had an interview with the consulate and were found inadmissible during the visa interview
  • You’re applying for a temporary protected status
  • You are applying for an adjustment of status under the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central America Relief
  • You’re applying for an adjustment of status to lawful permanent residence
  • You’re applying for an adjustment of status as a Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) based on an approved Form I-360.
  • You’re the child of a self-petitioner or are self-petitioning for an immigrant visa or adjustment of status under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
  • You’re at least 17 years old at the time of filing
  • You have a pending immigration case with the US Department of State

What Are the Legal Standards for Filing Form I-601?

Before trying to prove extreme hardship when applying for I-601 Waiver of grounds of inadmissibility, immigration appeals lawyers advise that you ensure the following legal requirements are met:

  • You must have a qualifying relative who is a US citizen or lawful permanent resident
  • The extreme hardship in question applies to your qualifying relative, not you. Your own hardship may only be considered relevant if it also causes undue hardship to your qualifying relative.
  • Your qualifying relative doesn’t have to be the person who sponsored you for immigration. For example, you could have been sponsored by your spouse, but your parent is terminally ill, and your exclusion from the country could cause them extreme hardship. In this case, your parent could be the qualifying relative.
  • Your exclusion from the country will cause extreme hardship beyond family separation.

What Are Examples of Extreme Hardship Scenarios That Can Make You Eligible for I-601?

Unfortunately, the US immigration law doesn’t define “extreme hardship,” but the USCIS considers the situation on a case-by-case basis, based on various factors. No two cases are the same, and what is required to prove extreme hardship in one case may not be required in your case.

Immigration lawyers in Chicago give the following examples of conditions that may qualify as extreme hardship:

  • You have children who don’t speak your home country’s native language and would have to be educated in a foreign language
  • Catastrophic economic conditions or political upheaval in the country to which you would be deported
  • You and your qualifying relative are members of a minor ethnic group that suffers prosecution in your home countr
  • You are your family’s sole breadwinner and are unlikely to get employment in your home country.

Even as you try to prove extreme hardship, remember the USCIS has total discretion as to whether extreme hardship applies to your case under the factors you list. So, there’s no appeal of the agency’s “extreme hardship” decision.

Proving Extreme Hardship

The evidence you provide to prove an extreme hardship claim depends on why you were found inadmissible. Chicago immigration appeals attorneys can help piece together evidence that can prove your case, including:

  • Expert opinion
  • Photographs
  • Official documents such as birth certificates, court documents, adoption papers, or marriage certificates
  • Medical or mental health evaluations by trained, qualified, and licensed professionals
  • Evidence of employment or business ties
  • Financial records
  • Affidavits and statements signed “under penalty of perjury.”

What Factors Does the USCIS Consider in Extreme Hardship Consideration?

Some factors that the USCIS considers when determining “extreme hardship” cases include, but are not limited to:

  • Your age when you entered the US and at the time of your application for relief
  • Your qualifying family member’s age and immigration status, their ability to speak your country’s native language, and how likely they are to adjust to life in their country of return
  • Your health and that of your qualifying family member
  • How likely you are to get employment in the country to which you will be returning
  • How much time you have spent in the US
  • What, if any, ties do you have in the country of return
  • Your immigration history, including authorized residence in the country
  • Effect on educational opportunities for you and your qualifying family member
  • Your contributions to and ties to a community in the United States, including how integrated you are in society.

However, some factors are more crucial than others, depending on why the USCIS deemed you inadmissible. For example, a terrorist threat against you or your qualifying family member carries more weight than difficulty adjusting to a new life.

A Skilled Immigration Lawyer Helping You Navigate I-601 Waiver Issues

If you have been deemed inadmissible in the US on various grounds, you may be able to appeal the decision by citing extreme hardship. The process is not without challenges, but working with experienced immigration lawyers can better your chances of a favorable outcome.

SwagatUSA, LLC, hosts skilled immigration assistance attorneys who can provide legal counsel to help you fight for your rights while navigating immigration issues. We offer many immigration services and can help you with your I-601 waiver application. Call our office at 773-825-8695 for a consultation.

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