"Extreme hardship" is not defined in the Immigration and Nationality Act. Whether or not your qualifying relative will experience extreme hardship is determined on a case-by-case basis. Adjudicating officers will refer to guidance provided by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), as well as prior case law, to reach a conclusion as to whether or not extreme hardship has been demonstrated in an individual case.
One thing is for certain - separation without more is not enough. In other words, the inevitable pain of not having your loved one around for three to ten years is not sufficient on its own to demonstrate extreme hardship. The following sections will provide guidance on what else needs to be shown to file a successful waiver application.
For purposes of this guide, the qualifying relative will be referred to as "QR".
Extreme Hardship at Home and Abroad
The applicant for a hardship waiver needs to demonstrate extreme hardship on two fronts:
First, the applicant needs to show that his or her QR will experience extreme hardship in the applicant's home country. There will always be an assumption that the qualifying relative is capable of relocating to the applicant's home country in order to remain with his or her loved one.
Second, the applicant needs to show that his or her QR will experience extreme hardship in the United States without the applicant.
If the waiver applicant is unable to demonstrate extreme hardship to the QR at home and abroad, the application will not be successful.
Tips on Proving Extreme Hardship in the Applicant's Home Country
The applicant can demonstrate that his or her QR will experience extreme hardship in his or her home country several ways. The following are examples of the types of evidence that can be provided about the applicant's home country:
- The home country is currently in, or on the verge of, war or political upheaval.
- The home country is known to oppress certain groups of individuals and the QR falls within one of these groups.
- The QR does not speak the language of the home country.
- The QR has a career in the U.S. and he or she will not be able to maintain it in the home country.
- The QR has no family ties in the home country.
- The applicant will be unable to support the QR financially in the home country.
- The applicant's family in the home country will be unable to support the QR financially
- The home country has a poor economy and/or a high unemployment rate
- The home country has a high rate of murder, kidnapping, and other violent crimes
Tips on Proving Extreme Hardship in the United States
The applicant can demonstrate that his or her QR will experience extreme hardship in the United States several ways. The following are examples of the types of evidence that can be provided:
- The QR has a medical condition keeping him/her in the U.S. and he/she depends on the applicant for help.
- The QR is financially dependent on the applicant and is unable to get enough support from family.
- The QR depends on the applicant to care for their children in order to maintain employment.
- The QR is suffering depression because of the applicant's immigration issues and he/she can not relocate to the applicant's home country
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