Extreme Hardship Waivers: Impact of an Absent Father

Extreme Hardship Waiver Applications

Absent father and the psychological impact of family separation

Impact of an Absent Father: Extreme Hardship in a Waiver Application

While there is no exact definition of extreme hardship, immigration case law provides a list of factors that are considered in a waiver application. Two of those factors include the psychological impact of family separation, and the inability to raise children if family members are not present. These two factors are especially significant in proving extreme hardship when an applicant is married and has young dependent children. This blog entry will focus on the impact an absent father has on young children and how that can demonstrate extreme hardship to the qualifying relative. Due to the fact that extreme hardship for the U.S. citizen children can be “funneled” into hardships to the qualifying relative, the impact of an absent parent should be highlighted in a waiver application.

Impact of an Absent Father: Extreme Hardship in a Waiver Application

An Example

George is a Mexican citizen and is married to Amy, a U.S. citizen. They have three young boys, all under five years old. George is an attentive, loving father and husband. Amy works full-time and sometimes even graveyard shifts at her job at the hospital. She relies heavily on her husband to care for and watch their children. Amy, as the U.S. citizen, is George’s qualifying relative, and thus George must demonstrate that Amy would experience extreme hardship if George were not granted a waiver. Although their children are U.S. citizens, they are not qualifying relatives for the purpose of the waiver. Thus, any hardship the children would experience is only considered to the extent it results in hardship to George’s spouse, Amy.

A waiver application with similar facts as above was first denied by the Field Office Director in Mexico City, but on appeal by the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) it was approved. In that case, the waiver applicant was able to prove by psychiatric assessments that his spouse was anxious, depressed, and on the verge of a nervous breakdown due to her separation from her husband. The AAO also took into account the impact the father’s absence had on the young children. The young boys’ school teachers reported they were acting out, and not doing well on tests or assignments. In addition, they exhibited behavioral issues such as not eating well and being rebellious.

Indeed, studies show that boys with an absent father suffer disproportionately. For example, one study found that children whose fathers are stable and involved are better off on almost every cognitive, social and economic measure developed by researchers. Compared to children who grow up in two-parent households, children who grow up with an absent-father are more likely to show: increased rates of delinquency, higher rates of drug abuse/addiction, emotional problems, behavioral issues such as aggression, and antisocial tendencies. This goes to show that if a father was forced to separate from his family, it is likely to negatively affect his children in a variety of ways. The children’s mother, in turn, would suffer anxiety and stress in dealing with the child’s onset of emotional and behavioral issues.

In addition, these children are more likely to have a lower academic achievement, lower test scores and are more likely to drop out of school. Particularly in males, there is a higher mortality rate and they are more likely to have contact with the police, leading to an increased risk of incarceration. These studies explain that poverty, lack of resources, instability in the household, lower parental engagement, and increased stress on the remaining parent (the mother), account for negative consequences of an absent father.

It comes as no surprise that when a two-parent household abruptly turns to a single-parent household, the stress on the remaining parent increases dramatically. As in the example of George and Amy, if George were denied a waiver, Amy would be left on her own raising their three young boys. The boys, in turn, may suffer in many ways, including less stability, lower income, and lack of emotional support. George can funnel the hardship his sons experience through Amy, his qualifying relative, to create a stronger waiver application. Even though the U.S. citizen children are not the qualifying relatives, they should not be overlooked in establishing extreme hardship in a waiver application.

This blog entry is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. This blog is for educational purposes only. Remember that each case is unique. If you have questions about your own immigration case, please contact our Sacramento or San Francisco office at (916) 613-3553 or info@ranchodlaw.com to schedule a consultation.

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Works Cited:
Emily Anthes, Family Guy. Scientific American Mind. (May/June 2010).

J. McCord, et al., Juvenile Crime, Juvenile Justice. Panel on Juvenile Crime: Prevention, Treatment, and Control. (2001).

Lisa J. Crockett, et al., Father’s Presence and Young Children’s Behavioral and Cognitive Adjustment. Faculty Publications, Department of Psychology, Paper 253. (1993).

Published by: The Ranchod Law Group

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