What is an Immigration Hardship Waiver?

an I-601 waiver signed by an individual who was deemed inadmissible to the USIf you have been denied a visa or other immigration benefit on the grounds that you are “inadmissible”, you may be able to request a “waiver of inadmissibility” by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to seek forgiveness and settle the dilemma. The I-601 waiver is one such waiver that eligible applicants may submit to the USCIS to request that their “ground(s) of inadmissibility” be waived. Whether an applicant is eligible for an I-601 waiver depends primarily on the evidence provided to prove that they are inadmissible.

In addition to directing you through this complicated process, a professional immigration attorney can assist you in providing the necessary materials to adequately support your claims and acquire a waiver of inadmissibility. Learn more about these waivers and services below.

Reasons for Inadmissibility

“Inadmissibility” refers to a limited category of immigrants who are not permitted by law to enter or remain in the United States, set forth by The Immigration and Nationality Act. The general categories of inadmissibility vary widely and include the following factors:

  • Health: communicable diseases, lack of required immunizations, dangerous physical or mental disorders, drug addictions, etc.
  • Criminal Activity: crimes that violate the principles of morality, justice and honesty, drug related crimes in the U.S. or other nations, multiple criminal convictions resulting in five or more years of incarceration, prostitution, drug trafficking, sex crimes, or money laundering.
  • Fraud & Misrepresentation: falsifying/misrepresenting information to obtain a visa or committing fraud while in the visa application process.
  • Unlawful Presence: Illegal entrance in the U.S. (resulting in multi-year bars), claiming false U.S. citizenship, entering the country as a stowaway, the smuggling/abuse of a student visa.
  • Other Factors: threats to national security, public charges, lack of labor certification, prior removals from the United States, and several other miscellaneous categories.

A professional immigration attorney can consult with you to determine if you meet any of the above criteria to meet the eligibility requirements for an immigration waiver. In the event that more than one category applies to you, they may help you determine the most pertinent option based on your circumstances to make an effective case.

The I-601 Hardship Waiver

an I-601A waiver being signed with the help of a Vienna, VA immigration attorneyThe I-601 Hardship waiver, is the primary waiver used to clear obstacles pertaining to individuals obtaining a visa or green card, as well as being legally permitted to visit the United States. Note that criminal conviction waivers, misrepresentation waivers and unlawful presence waivers are all classified as hardship waivers, however eligibility requirements for each may differ depending on your circumstances.

As the name suggests, the I-601 “Hardship” waiver is primarily for immigrants whose U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident family member(s) would experience “extreme hardship” if their foreign immigrant petitioner were not allowed to remain in the U.S. legally. As such, a key determining factor in the I-601 application is providing sufficient evidence to confirm how the U.S. resident would experience distress in the event that their immigrant family member were barred from the United States.

Admissible Evidence Under the I-601 Waiver

I-601 waiver decisions are made by the USCIS on an independent, case-by-case basis. There is currently no clear definition of what constitutes “extreme hardship,” however, one can surmise that it is based primarily on the evidence provided to support the rationale behind your claims. Factors that the USCIS considers when determining “extreme hardship” include (but are not limited to):

  • Health (e.g., need for the applicant to assist with physical or mental conditions).
  • Financial Consideration (e.g., significant loss of funds leading to a decline in standard of living).
  • Education (e.g., loss of opportunity for higher education or limited scope of education options).
  • Personal Considerations (e.g., separation of spouse or children)
  • Special Factors (e.g., valid fears of persecution, physical harm or ostracism).

Establishing whether you are eligible to qualify for an I-601 Hardship waiver, let alone providing sufficient and appropriate evidence to support your claims is an extremely difficult process, capable of thwarting even professional attorneys. Because of the complexity of the I-601 waiver process, it is vital that you work with an experienced immigration attorney who can assist you with your case.

The I-601A Provisional Waiver

an immigration attorney working with an individual to get his I-601 wavier approvedThe I-601A Provisional waiver is a recent subsidiary of the I-601, used chiefly for lessening the time period that an undocumented alien is separated from their U.S. family members in the event that they are subject to a 3 or 10-year bar. In contrast to the I-601, the I-601A allows eligible persons to request a waiver of the multi-year bars for unlawful presence before they leave the US to obtain a green card.

This allows immigrants who would traditionally be deported and forced to wait for a waiver of inadmissibility in their foreign country to now remain in the United States with their families until their waivers are finalized. Once their waivers are approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), they will be eligible to attend their appointments for immigrant visas (green cards) in their countries of origin, and then return to their families in the U.S. within a few days or weeks.

I-601A waivers are processed much the same way as an I-601 waiver, based on the reliability of the facts of your case. These include providing sufficient evidence to verify your relationship to U.S.-based family members and to support your claims that if the waiver were to be denied, those family members would suffer extreme hardship.

Work With an Immigration Attorney

Immigration waivers can be extremely helpful for eligible immigrants seeking to overcome certain restrictions on admissibility into the United States. However, applying for and filing immigration waivers is no easy feat. Filing an immigrant waiver is an increasingly convoluted process which requires a thorough understanding of complex eligibility and document requirements, filing guidelines, and other necessary components. Carelessly omitting important details could potentially result in you failing to follow crucial steps or provide all the necessary materials. This could cause delays, or worse, the immediate termination of your waiver application.

Fortunately, Johnson & Masumi have decades of experience in immigration law, having attained hundreds of immigration waivers for our clients in the past, while providing them with need-to-know information and guidance throughout the entire process. Contact our experienced immigration attorneys today to learn more about our immigration waiver services.

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