Home Country Conditions Support Hardship Waivers
A hardship waiver application should explain how each and every aspect of a denial could cause exceptional hardship to the U.S. citizen. This is not limited to how the U.S. citizen’s health, finances, and education would suffer without their spouse. There is also exceptional hardship to the U.S. citizen if he or she had to relocate to another country. This blogpost explores severe conditions found in foreign countries as well as the types of documentation that can help demonstrate the conditions to strengthen hardship waiver application.
Every aspect of a denial should be explored when preparing applications for hardship waivers. Since the brief should leave no stone unturned, it should also dig deep into the home country of the immigrant spouse.
For example, in Mexico, there are a variety of conditions that could cause extreme hardship on the U.S. citizen. Some common examples include high rates of crime and violence. The state of Michoacán in particular is plagued by drug cartels. The lucrative meth trade is based in the valleys and mountains of the state. Combat erupts between the cartels and the Mexican armed police and local militias. Even if a town is completely innocent of involvement with the cartels, they can still be overrun by extortion tactics and violence from the cartel leaders. There are many reports of cartels charging fees and extra taxes on poor ranchers just to be left alone. The farmers already earn a meager income but yet the cartels threaten to kill, destroy and kidnap their daughters if they do not comply. For any person, including a U.S. citizen, these violent conditions rise to an important factor of exceptional hardship and are vital to hardship waivers.
In Brazil, hadrship waivers should put emphasis on widespread violence perpetrated by criminal gangs and abusive police units in many of their cities. Human Rights Watch Report of 2014 reported that in the first six months of 2013 there were 362 and 165 killings in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo alone caused by police forces. Along with these killings, police forces were also involved in covering the crimes they committed and led to further corruption. Wherever there is law enforcement corruption it is clear that the public’s safety is at risk.
Other common conditions to highlight, if applicable, include severe poverty, high levels of pollution, and eroding infrastructure.
Hardship waivers, besides explaining how these conditions will cause extreme hardship, should demonstrate each claim with sufficient supporting documents. These documents can include letters from family member or friends that currently live in the foreign country. The letters can explain in detail what circumstances are difficult. Further they can send photos of the local schools, health facilities, roads, and building infrastructure. The friends or family can also provide articles from local newspapers illustrating the severe conditions in the town. In addition, recent reports on the country from credible organizations can serve to bolster the arguments in the waiver application brief. For example, Human Rights Watch, U.S. Department of State, and the U.S. Embassies are all credible authorities to provide such reports.
By demonstrating a foreign country’s circumstances and supporting the claims of hardship with documentation, a stronger hardship waiver application is created.