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I-601 Waivers and Extreme Hardship
An I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility, is filed to permit an alien who has been denied admission to the United States gain admission under certain circumstances. This waiver is based on extreme hardship to United States citizen or lawful permanent resident relatives of the alien which would result if the alien’s inadmissibility cannot be waived.
The qualifying United States citizen or law permanent resident relatives who may serve as the qualifying relatives for an I-601 waiver vary depending upon the reason for the alien’s inadmissibility. If the alien is denied admission for unlawfully residing in the United States in the past or for misrepresentation, only United States citizen or lawful permanent resident spouses and parents may claim extreme hardship due to the alien’s absence. If the alien is denied admission for criminal reasons, United States citizen and lawful permanent resident spouses, parents, and children may claim extreme hardship due to the alien’s prospective inadmissibility. Fiance(e)s who are United States citizens also may qualify in certain circumstances. Finally, if the alien is denied admission based on health grounds, various waivers of admissibility are available such as HIV waivers.
There are a variety of circumstances that fall under the vague rubric of “extreme hardship.” The purpose of the I-601 waiver application is to prove that the degree of hardship suffered by the alien’s relative(s) is extreme, and that this situation cannot be remedied by a move abroad on the part of the United States citizen or lawful permanent resident relative(s). (Simply missing the person is “normal” rather than “extreme.”)
Hardship arguments can be organized into four Extreme Hardship Categories, with Category One arguments being the strongest. Generally speaking, it is best to have at least one Category Two and a few Category Three arguments presented in the waiver, though in some situations just one Category One argument will decide a case. Things like major medical conditions (e.g. terminal illness) or major political upheaval in the alien’s country are examples of Category One arguments, while situations like personal debt or high crime rates in the alien’s country qualify as the weakest, Category Four arguments. Criminal cases also require proving that the applicant is rehabilitated and not likely to offend again.
I-601 arguments, regardless of their category of classification, must always be supported with good evidence. A mix of official documentation (e.g. from doctors or government sources) as well as personal documentation (e.g. a letter from the qualifying relative) are used to support an I-601 application. Personal letters for documentation need be original, so copying templates from the internet is not suggested. The purpose of the immigration attorney’s brief is to make sense out of this collection of documents supporting the alien’s case, as well as place the case into a legal context for the official judging the petition. A qualified immigration attorney should be engaged to prepare the I-601 waiver application. Each month, both in the United States and at United States consulates abroad, May Law Group, LLC, files many I-601 waiver applications. May Law Group’s attorneys understand how to properly prepare extreme hardship waivers and our I-601 checklists and process is unique among immigration law firms.
Overseas filings are done at the consulate and decided by a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer, though not every foreign country has a USCIS office. In-country filings are decided by the immigration officer handling the adjustment of status case; though in certain cases a supervisor or judge rules on the petition. Additionally, there are risks involved with voluntarily entering into the waiver process for some applicants (Foreign-filed waivers require that the alien remain abroad while her case is processing, for instance), so that it is best to consult legal expertise before beginning the I-601 waiver filing process.
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