Impact of an Absent Father: Extreme Hardship in a Hardship Waiver Application
Extreme Hardship Waiver Applications – The psychological impact of family separation
When dealing with Hardship Waivers, there is no exact definition of extreme hardship. Immigration law provides a list of factors that are considered in a Hardship 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 family separation has on young children and present examples demonstrating exceptional hardship to the qualifying relative. 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 the Hardship 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. As a U.S. citizen, Amy is George’s qualifying relative, and thus George must demonstrate that Amy would experience exceptional 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 Hardship Waiver application with similar facts as above was first denied by the Field Office Director in Mexico City. Still, on appeal by the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO), it was approved.
In that case, the Waivers applicant proved 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. Also, they exhibited misbehavior such as not eating well and being rebellious.
Indeed, studies show that boys without a 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 tend to:
- show increased rates of delinquency;
- have higher rates of drug abuse/addiction;
- have emotional problems;
- be aggressive and have antisocial tendencies.
This shows that if a father were forced to separate from his family, it is likely to negatively affect his children in various ways. The children’s mother, in turn, would suffer anxiety and stress in dealing with the child’s onset of issues, both emotional and behavioral. These children typically have lower academic achievement, lower test scores, and are most likely will drop out of school.
Particularly in males, there is a higher mortality rate, higher probability 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 the negative consequences.
It comes as no surprise that when a two-parent household abruptly turns to a single-parent home, the remaining parent’s stress increases dramatically. In this example, if George were denied a waiver, Amy would be left on her own, raising their three young boys. In turn, the boys may suffer in many ways, including less stability, lower-income, and lack of emotional support.
George can funnel his sons’ hardship through Amy, his qualifying relative, to create a more robust Hardship Waiver application. Even though the U.S. citizen children are not qualifying relatives, they should not be overlooked in establishing exceptional 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 office at (916) 613-3553. You can also contact us via mail ta firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a consultation and discuss your particular situation. Schedule a consultation with us today to evaluate your chances for a Hardship Waiver.
- 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).