Proving Extreme Hardship for a Waiver of Inadmissibility
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Preparing your I-601 Waiver of Inadmissibility requires evidence of extreme hardship, and this task is extremely difficult. To put things in perspective, imagine a see-saw that has an elephant sitting on one side. This elephant represents the weight of a determination of Inadmissibility to the United States. To lift this elephant into the sky requires a massive amount of counter weight.
Not only is this evidence difficult to assemble, it is difficult to organize, and difficult to properly articulate with concision. In other words, not only do you need to assemble a large amount of mass, you need to be able to place it all on that tiny seat on the other side of the see-saw.
As a side note, this article does not address the other documents that are relevant to this process, such as visa and green card applications, and doesn't even address the actual I-601 form itself, this is simply a starting point to consider when preparing the evidence to support a waiver application.
The elephant on the see-saw appears to be impervious, but because she represents your final obstacle to uniting your family, you have no choice but to send her in to the air. So lets go.
Step One: Identify our Arguments
Challenge yourself to complete the following sentence, "deportation will result in extreme hardship to me because _________."
As you fill in this blank, use the following checklist to assist yourself;
- health concerns
- language concerns
- family unity
- culture of the country in question
- mental stress
Now repeat the process from the point of view of everybody who is in close proximity to the alien, as well as from that alien's point of view. For example, you might find that the alien will be moved away from his family, or that the that the spouse of the alien will endure severe psychological distress, or that the alien's children require daily attention due to a health concern.
Step Two: Rank Your Arguments
When you have your list of arguments, compare them to each other from a common-sense perspective. By doing this you will be able to lead with your best arguments. The rule of thumb is to ask the following question, "Which statements of hardship are more extreme?" If there is a tie or if you can't tell, that's OK, this exercise is most important to identify your best statements of hardship.
When you have identified your arguments, you will be tempted to unleash your entire list on USCIS, but in many cases this is not a good idea. More on this in step 4.
Step Three: Prove It
Now that you've been able to articulate these statements, you need proof, and you should be able to provide objective evidence, not just your own opinion. You may want to provide newspaper articles to support your statement that "the alien will face extreme hardship if deported to Country X because he will be viewed as a United States apologist, his intentions will be questioned and he will be subject to torture."
If health concerns are a basis for a statement of hardship, your best evidence will be directly from a doctor's office, diagnosis of the health concern and its affect on the member of the family who would have to endure extreme hardship if the family member is deported.
If finances are the basis of a statement of hardship, bank statements and tax returns are good evidence. If children are the basis of a statement of hardship, birth certificates are proof of the family relationship.
Again, this advice is painted with broad strokes to assist a range of Waiver applicants. Each argument will be different and will require different supporting evidence. Think again from a common-sense perspective; "What is the best way that I can prove each statement of hardship?"
Step 4: Place All that Weight on the See-Saw
Organize your arguments, use concise, easy to understand language. You will not be able to confuse a consular officer in to blindly approving your application, this is something I don't need to tell you.
What I do need to tell you is this; "Don't overburden the officer in to blindly denying your application."
By submitting ancillary and weak arguments, you take away your own credibility and detract from your strongest arguments. Its that simple. Put yourself in the officer's shoes and think about their task. You are trying to lift an elephant and you need a streamlined, crisp effort to be successful.
Have someone close to you but not in your immediate family read the application to proof read it. They will not be able to replicate the reviewing authority of the United States but they will help you to know if your evidence is relevant, if your words are easy to read, if your arguments are properly ranked, and if your evidence is focused, or sloppy.
- "deportation will result in extreme hardship to me because _________."
- "Which statements of hardship are more extreme?"
- "What is the best way that I can prove each statement of hardship?"
- "Don't overburden the officer in to blindly denying your application."
To close, a reminder that many Immigration attorneys don't handle the 601 Waiver because it is difficult to compile and it is difficult to achieve successful results in every circumstance. On the other hand, there are plenty of Immigration attorneys who DO handle the 601 waiver, and my best advice is to work with an attorney who you believe to be the best fit for your needs to assist you, every step of the way.
From the Author: 601 Attorney Gregory P. Sheehan