How to Write an I601 Extreme Hardship Waiver Argument
If you’ve been found inadmissible to the United States or to adjust your status due to certain immigration violations, you may be eligible to apply for an I601 Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility. This waiver allows certain grounds of inadmissibility to be waived on the grounds of extreme hardship to your U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or parent.
Proving extreme hardship can be challenging; it’s not enough to say your family members would miss you. To qualify for extreme hardship, you’ll need to provide details on how leaving the U.S. would cause unusually difficult hardship or suffering for your family members. At Ranchod Law Group, we collect the hardship details of our retainer clients and then either prepare a legal brief that explains the hardships or help clients with writing the hardship letter, if you prefer a less inclusive service.
Since the extreme hardship letter is a deciding factor in your case, it’s essential to make it as comprehensive as possible. Here are some tips to keep in mind while preparing your I601 waiver.
Who Qualifies for an I601 Waiver?
Depending upon your case, you will be able to file for an I-601 waiver if:
In addition, you must be:
Reasons You May Need a Waiver
The Immigration and Nationality Act created general grounds for inadmissibility; these categories can be broad, so it’s recommended to discuss your eligibility with an experienced immigration attorney. The following inadmissibility conditions can be waived using an I-601 waiver:
In most cases, if you’re granted an I601 waiver, the waiver will be valid for an indefinite amount of time, even if you don’t receive an immigrant visa, immigrant admission, adjustment of status, or lose your legal permanent resident status.
Keep in mind that if your waiver is approved, it will only apply to the grounds of inadmissibility and specific circumstances you listed in your application. For this reason, make sure to disclose all the reasons you were found inadmissible and all grounds of inadmissibility in your application, as they apply to your case.
What is Extreme Hardship?
“Extreme hardship” refers to hardship your qualifying relative would experience that would be beyond normal circumstances if:
Your qualifying relative doesn’t need to be the same person who petitions for you to immigrate, but they must be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident parent or spouse.
You can argue that your relative would suffer extreme hardship in both cases—but either way, you’ll need to be prepared to provide ample evidence. There have to be special circumstances in order to be granted the waiver. It’s not enough to say your relatives would miss you, because that would be expected any time family members are separated.
Since there are no specific laws that clearly define what a “normal” hardship is versus an “extreme” hardship, the evidence for each application is reviewed and weighed on a case-to-case basis. This is why it’s crucial to make sure your extreme hardship letter is as comprehensive as possible.
Considerations for Your Extreme Hardship Argument
There are five main categories that extreme hardship circumstances fall into:
When writing your extreme hardship argument letter, it’s helpful to think about each of these categories and how your qualifying relative would be impacted 1) if you were denied entry or forced to leave the U.S. and 2) if they were forced to leave the U.S. with you. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
If you were denied entry or forced to leave the U.S.
If you leave the U.S. and take your family members with you
This is by no means an exhaustive list; it’s merely to help you start thinking about all the ways your family members would be affected if you were denied entry or forced to leave the U.S.
Providing Evidence for an I-601 Waiver
After you’ve spent some time determining all the ways your relatives would experience extreme hardship, you’ll need to gather evidence to back your claims. Evidence can fall into several different categories and it can be different depending on the claims you’re making. Regardless of why your qualifying relatives would suffer hardship, it’s important to provide as much documentation as possible. Think about each claim and whether you have any sort of documentation that supports it.
Here are some examples of documents you can submit; keep in mind that depending on the circumstances of your case, some of these documents may not apply. Also, this is not a complete list of the different types of documents you can submit. Your immigration attorney will be able to advise you on which evidence would be required or beneficial to prove your case.
Letters for Qualifying Relatives
Have your qualifying relatives draft letters that clearly explain each of the ways you leaving the country would affect them, as well as the role you play in your family. You can also include letters from older children and drawings of your family from younger children.
If you’re claiming extreme hardship due to a qualifying relative’s illness or health condition, provide letters from their doctors detailing the diagnosis and the type of treatment they’re receiving or would need. You’ll also want to include documents that can support the doctors’ letters, such as medical records of any testing, treatment, medications, hospitalizations, or other medical care they’ve received. In addition, include information about the quality of care your relative would receive in your home country. Do some research on how many specialists there are and which medications or treatment options are available.
If you’re claiming financial hardship, provide copies of financial records that could help support your claim, such as:
If your qualifying relatives would suffer hardship because of the conditions in your home country, provide country conditions reports. These can be acquired from the US Department of State and the Executive Office of Immigration Review.
If you’re the sole caregiver for your children, have the school write a letter confirming that you’re the sole emergency contact, and include letters from other family members explaining why they couldn’t take care of your children in your absence.
If you’re not the sole caretaker for your children, have teachers, school psychologists, relatives, or other people in your life who know your family situation write letters about why it’s so important to your children’s welfare that you stay in their lives. If you pay child support, include documentation showing your payment history and a letter from their primary caregiver explaining how you help support your children.
If your qualifying relative has been working on getting their degree, provide transcripts as well as any information about the schools and the quality of the education in your home country. If you have children who need special education, provide a report from their school that discusses the kind of education and resources they would need.
Putting It All Together: How to Prepare Your Extreme Hardship Waiver Packet
Once you’ve determined all ways your qualifying relatives would suffer extreme hardship and collected the supporting documentation, you can prepare your hardship waiver packet. This should include the completed Form I601 and all your supporting evidence.
You should also be sure to pay close attention to how you put the packet together. Here are some important tips to help ensure its submitted properly:
Putting your packet together
Make sure to use binders and folders that can be easily taken apart. If your waiver packet is thick or bulky, don’t use staples to hold it together. Instead, use heavy binder clips or ACCO two-pronged fasteners. If you’re separating the documents with tabs, put them at the bottom of the documents. Submit copies of original documents unless otherwise requested.
All documents should be on regular 8 ½ x 11 paper.
Request that all letters from family members are written on plain 8 ½ x 11 paper, rather than notebook paper. Drawing, cards, or other small documents can be stapled onto an 8 ½ x 11 sheet of paper. If you have odd-sized documents, such as documents from overseas, fold them (with the bottom of the document up) to fit an 8 ½ x 11 piece of paper. Whenever possible, try not to use oversized documents.
All documentation should be single-sided.
The way the packet is put together can make it difficult to read both sides.
If you’re including long reports, highlight the most important sections.
In many cases, most of the information in the report won’t apply to your case. Be sure to highlight the important sections to make it easy for the immigration official to find. If you only need information from a few pages of the report, only include them and the report’s cover letter.
Include certified translations with documents written in foreign languages.
The certified copy acknowledges that the translator is competent to provide a translation and they verify it was translated accurately. The certified translation should include the certifier’s name, signature, address, and the date the document was certified.
Include a list of exhibits.
A list of all the documents you’ve provided will help immigration officials understand what they’re looking at. It can also help them spot any documents that might be missing from the waiver packet.
Provide a summary.
Immigration officials may not have time to read every document you’ve provided in detail, so make sure to include a 1 to 2-page summary that highlights the most important information.
Get Professional Support and Guidance for Your I-601 Extreme Hardship Waiver
Although proving extreme hardship can be challenging, it’s not impossible. Spending time to create the most complete argument possible, in addition to collecting ample evidence, will increase the chances that your waiver gets approved. As there are a lot of pieces to submitting a thorough waiver packet, it’s extremely beneficial to work with an experienced immigration attorney.