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Explaining Extreme Hardship conditions for the I-601 Hardship Waiver

Immigration Attorney Kaushik Ranchod from The Ranchod Law Group in Sacramento, California, welcomes you to this immigration video and article. In this video, Kaushik will address three very frequent questions regarding the hardship waiver process which clients often ask.

Does filing an I-601A or I-601 hardship waiver get you work authorization?

Work authorization and the I-601 waiver are essential concepts that you need to understand. In essence, the hardship waiver is a form of forgiveness. Let’s consider, for example, the I-601A waiver. If you entered the United States without inspection and you have unlawful presence, the I-601 waiver leads or allows you to eventually, if approved, obtain permanent residency. When the I-601 hardship waiver is granted it will lead to permanent residency, assuming the applicant meets all the other requirements.

However, just getting the hardship waiver approved does not get you a work authorization. The waiver approval is the first significant step that will lead you to getting a green card, allowing you to work in the U.S. lawfully. A waiver approval will enable you to live in the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident as a green card holder, allowing you to work and will allow you to travel.

Once you achieve green cardholder status, you must keep in mind that you don’t want to abandon your residency. For example, if you’re outside of the U.S. for more than 180 days, I advise you to consult with an immigration attorney.

You also need to know certain types of criminal issues that could cause you to lose your green cardholder status. However, the green card is very powerful because it allows you to stay here and live as a permanent resident and work.

The good news is that the I-601A hardship waiver will lead you to that path of permanent residency provided you and your immigration attorney do everything properly; however, just getting the waiver approved doesn’t give you a green card.

What’s the difference between work authorization and a green card?

We covered the difference between work authorization and a green card a little bit in the last question. The difference is that the work authorization or employment authorization document allows you to work. In particular, a work authorization enables you to work for an employer.

A green card enables you to work as well, but a work authorization is temporary. Lawful permanent residency is permanent, so it allows you to continue working as a permanent resident for whichever employer you choose.

Conditional Green Card Status

If you obtain a conditional green card, you need to remove the conditions. Once you remove the conditions, USCIS will issue your green card, which is valid for two years. You will then need ten years, and then you need to renew your green card before that 10-year period expires, so you’ll want to make sure that you start the green card renewal process towards the end of the ten years.

On the other hand, work authorization, in many instances, is granted in one-year increments. The duration of a work authorization depends on the type of work you’re seeking.

Therefore, to continue to work, you must have your work authorization renewed. What is also important to note here is that the work authorization is dependent upon another status. For instance, the duration of an Employment Authorization Document through DACA will depend upon that DACA status.

I’m excited to apply for I-601A what constitutes extreme hardship?

What constitutes extreme hardship is the third most asked question by clients at our offices in Sacramento. Many learn about the I-601 hardship waiver and are anxious to know how to adjust their status.

Exceptional hardship is a fundamental concept you must understand because it is at the base of the hardship waiver process. The first most crucial concept to understand is that you must prove extreme hardship to your U.S. citizen spouse.

In this situation, one of the most effective forms of extreme hardship is health hardship. First of all, you demonstrate health hardship through documentation. For example, we can prove a condition of exceptional hardship related to the health of the U.S. citizen spouse with medical documents and medical records. Such medical documents are a letter from your physician.

Health Hardship

Now let’s take a closer look at how you can make an argument for exceptional hardship in the case of health hardship. Many conditions can be considered: one situation could be the different living conditions in your country of origin. Such living conditions could affect your U.S. citizen spouse; for example, the climate may constitute such a health hardship.

  • Is the difference in climate going to affect their health condition?
  • Are they going to have the same access to medical care as they do here in the U.S.?
  • Is your U.S. spouse under medical treatment?
  • If so, how long will the medical treatment last?
  • Is it short-term or long-term?
  • If the medical treatment is long term, how do medical standards in your country compare to those in the U.S.?
  • How would a sub-standard health treatment affect your U.S. spouse?

This list is incomplete yet offers insights on how you need to articulate your case. The previous list also provides examples of medical hardship arguments that you can use.

Financial Hardship

Another form of extreme hardship is financial hardship. Here are instances of financial hardship:

  • Do you own a home in the United States?
  • Do you have significant student debt?
  • If you were to move, would you be required to have additional training to work?
  • Would you even be able to get the same kind of work or employment?
  • Are you taking care of elderly parents here in the United States?
  • Are you’re helping support them?
  • Would you be able to do that if you had to move abroad?

Educational Hardship

Another form of exceptional hardship is educational hardship:

  • Are you going to school here in the United States?
  • Would that education be compromised if you had to move abroad?
  • Are you not able to speak the language in your spouse’s country of orgin?

By answering affirmatively to this kind of questions, there may be some form of educational hardship that may constitute extreme hardship you could touch upon. For example, if you are enrolled in a four-year academic program, moving to your home country would disrupt that program. You could suffer from such disruption because the same educational program is not available in your home country or available only in the local language, making it hard to follow or simply because you can’t take the course in the local language. These are crucial elements that lead to educational hardship you should consider when you consult with your immigration attorney.

For more information on the I-601 Waiver see: