A Brief Overview of the I-601 and I-212 Waivers Process

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Who needs a waiver?

An applicant for a green card or an immigrant visa may need a waiver if any of the following situations apply: entering the United States without inspection; unlawful presence; prostitution or commercialized vice (gambling); crimes involving moral turpitude; simple possession of marijuana; and fraud or misrepresentation.


Who is a "Qualifying Relative"?

To have a waiver approved, the applicant for the green card or immigrant visa must show that a qualifying relative will suffer extreme hardship if he is not approved. A qualifying relative is either a US citizen (USC) or a lawful permanent resident (LPR) relative. A qualifying relative may be the applicant's spouse or parent for all of the above-mentioned grounds of inadmissibility. A USC or LPR child may only be a qualifying relative for prostitution or commercialized vice (gambling); crimes involving moral turpitude; and simple possession of marijuana. These grounds of inadmissibility require a USC or LPR spouse or parent: prior order of deportation; and fraud or misrepresentation.


What is "Extreme Hardship?"

Anytime a family may be torn apart, the government presumes that there will be emotional and financial hardship. There is no definition of extreme hardship, each family's story is personalized. Extreme hardship is cumulative - generally, there is not one factor that reaches extreme hardship levels. It is the combination of hardship in a variety of areas that may lead to extreme hardship. The government will look at extreme hardship from two perspectives. First, what would the qualifying relative's life look like in the United States if the applicant could not joint them. Secondly, what would the qualifying relative's life look like in the applicant's home country if they moved there? Be sure to discuss both scenarios.


What factors are relevant in determining extreme hardship?

Extreme hardship can be shown in a variety of ways. USCIS can look at the items in this list, as well as others, in making a decision. Areas include: qualifying relative's ties in the United States; qualifying relative's special medical or psychological needs; potential economic hardship to the qualifying relative; qualifying relative's ties to the local community; harsh or dangerous conditions in the home country; and poor educational system in the home country.


What documents do I need to show extreme hardship?

An affidavit from the qualifying relative detailing the above-factors may be your strongest evidence. This is their opportunity to talk about all the ways their life would change and how they would suffer if the waiver were not granted. For family ties, birth certificates of children, and letters from family members may help. If there are medical concerns, letters from the doctor, medical records, and prescription records should be included. The same holds true if there are special psychological needs. In regards to potential economic hardship, a monthly budget should be prepared. If there is a history of public assistance, include that information. Ties to the community may be shown by letters from volunteer organizations, letters from religious leaders, or from your children's teachers. You can find evidence of harsh or dangerous country conditions through the Dept. of State's website, as well as any reputable news source online.

Additional Resources

A good immigration attorney will be able to help you put together the strongest waiver application possible. The American Immigration Lawyers Association, AILA, may be able to provide you the name of an attorney in your area.

I-601 waiver application and instructions

I-212 waiver application and instructions

U.S. Department of State Country Specific Information

U.S. Department of State Human Rights Reports

AILA's Immigration Lawyer Search

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