If you are attempting to get a visa or green card in the U.S., but are blocked because you match one of the grounds of inadmissibility found in U.S. immigration law (mostly crimes, immigration violations, and health problems), you might be able to overcome this be requesting what's called a "waiver." Your eligibility to apply for one, however, in most cases depends on whether you have a qualified U.S. relative who would experience extreme hardship if you were not admitted to the United States. Such a waiver request is typically done using USCIS Form I-601 or I-601A.
According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) policy, the U.S. government will approve such a waiver if applicants provide strong evidence that their U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident relative will experience either:
You can, if it's fitting, try to show that your U.S. relative would experience extreme hardship in both of these potential situations. But if only one situation would cause your relative extreme hardship (i.e. separation in two different countries would lead to extreme hardship, but having the U.S. relative move abroad wouldn't be so bad), be prepared to prove that that the one situation leading to extreme hardship is also the plan you and your U.S. relative would choose to pursue, and to explain why.
Also keep in mind that the qualifying U.S. relative does NOT have to be the same one who petitioned for you to immigrate, as illustrated in the following example.
EXAMPLE: Sara, who came to the U.S. from Australia on an F-1 student visa, would like to immigrate to the U.S. based on marriage to a U.S. citizen. However, she is inadmissible, having stayed in the U.S. for two years after dropping out of college. Her husband earns a good income in a tech company and can work remotely from anywhere in the world. So it will be hard to argue that the hardship he would suffer will be extreme if he had to move to Australia, or even if Sara couldn't be with him in the United States. Yes, he'd be sad, but so would every spouse separated from a loved one. Sara could, however, potentially apply for the waiver of inadmissibility based on hardship that her U.S. citizen mother would face if Sara were denied the green card; particularly if, for example, her mother has a severe health issue and has been relying on Sara's care and in-person emotional support.
Extreme hardship has been defined by U.S. immigration agencies and the courts to mean hardship that is greater than what the U.S. relative would experience under normal circumstances if the would-be immigrant were not allowed to come to or stay in the United States. There has to be something extra at play. It would be not enough, therefore, to show that your U.S. relative will miss you, because this would be expected under any type of separation.
There is no specific law or regulation defining what constitutes "normal" versus "extreme" hardship, which means that the evidence for each waiver application will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
Some of the more common arguments for extreme hardship when the U.S. relative continues living the United States but the non-citizen remains abroad (or is deported there) include, but are not limited to:
A lawyer can help evaluate your personal situation and come up with other convincing reasons.
Some of the more common arguments for extreme hardship in a situation when a U.S. relative accompanies the immigrant to the home country include, but are not limited to:
Again, you'll want to consider personally unique issues that are not on this list.
The evidence you will need to submit with your waiver application should start with your qualifying U.S. relative's personal statement. Your relative should describe all the types of extreme hardship that living outside the United States would cause; or alternatively (or additionally) that living in the U.S. without you would cause.
You, the foreign-born person, might also want to submit a personal statement to support the arguments made by your qualifying U.S. relative and to shed more light on conditions in your home country. But remember, this isn't about hardship to you; it's about how the situation will affect your qualifying U.S. relative.
Every argument made in either of these statements should be supported by documents from independent sources. These might include, but are not limited to:
It's a good idea to reference each piece of evidence in the personal statements as an exhibit. This will help you organize your application, which will make it easier for the USCIS officer to review it.
There are some categories of inadmissibility that do not designate a U.S. citizen or permanent resident child as a qualifying relative for the extreme hardship waiver. Many applicants make the mistake of focusing primarily on the children when they do not qualify, resulting in a challenge or denial of their application.
If your child is not a qualifying relative, you can provide evidence of extreme hardship to the child only if it will result in extreme hardship to your qualifying relative. Nevertheless, that can be an important part of your argument. If, for example, adequate medical care for a child with special needs is not available in the home country and the U.S. spouse would have to stop working and give up a rewarding career, this can be styled as extreme hardship to the U.S. spouse.
It is always a good idea to consult with an immigration attorney when you prepare a waiver request based on extreme hardship to a qualifying U.S. relative. An attorney can assist in collecting the best evidence to support your arguments. An attorney can also prepare a legal summary to support your case and to serve as a guide for the adjudicating officer.