Immigration & Naturalization Law

What is Extreme Hardship in an Immigration case?

An extreme hardship waiver request typically states that a person living in the U.S. will suffer in a serious way if another person i denied entry. There is a lot of flexibility to the legal phrase “extreme hardship.” It is up to a judge to determine if someone in the country wills suffer in an above-average manner.

Many grounds of inadmissibility require waiver applicants to provide evidence that refusal to the United States would result in extreme hardship to the applicant’s qualifying relative. The extreme hardship criteria may include:

  • the age of the foreign national upon entry into the U.S.,
  • health related issues including access to medical care for the qualifying relative if they had to relocate to a different country;
  • financial impact of the foreign national’s absence in the U.S.;
  • the country’s conditions to which the qualifying relative would relocate; and
  • whether the qualifying family members speak the foreign language of the country to which they would have to relocate.

What to Include with an I-601 Waiver Package to Increase  Approval Chances

Along with an I-601 waiver petition, supporting documentation should be submitted to support the waiver package establishing that the qualifying relative will suffer extreme hardship if the petition is not approved.  There are factors to consider to establish the burden of extreme hardship. Extreme hardship can be demonstrated through health considerations, financial considerations, education, personal considerations and special factors. Below are factors to include to increase the chances of approval.


Submit medical reports, physician’s evaluation, letters, and health insurance documentation showing the doctor’s findings of the qualifying relative’s medical and/or physical condition. The documentation should establish that the medical or physical condition requires immediate attention, or anticipated treatment and the duration of the treatment and describe whether the medical condition is acute or chronic.


Submit all financial documentation such as bills, car payments, mortgage payments, employment letters, income tax returns showing the financial strains impacting the qualifying relative.


Submit all transcripts for each of the qualifying relatives including course descriptions, financial aid received, receipts for books used for courses.

Any disruption of current programs enrolled, availability or limitations in education in the foreign country, and loss of opportunity for higher education are also factors considered in determining extreme hardship.


Submit affidavits of qualifying relative’s, family members, and the applicant themselves. The affidavits should provide facts relating to close familial ties. If there are close familial ties and departing from the U.S. would destroy the unity, the length of residence and community ties in the U.S., separation from spouse and children; the ages of the involved parties.


Submit submit any country reports, department of state reports, religious background, affidavits of all qualifying relatives and third parties attesting that there are cultural, language, religious, and ethnic obstacles that would result in extreme hardship to the qualifying relative.

Social stigmas, access to social institutions, or valid fears of persecution, harm or injury should also be addressed and included in the package.

It’s important to keep in mind that the extreme hardship is to the qualifying relative, not the waiver applicant. The qualifying relative is either the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or parent and sometimes child of the foreign national.

What documentation should be submitted with an I-601 waiver?

Along with filing Form I-601 Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility, the waiver applicant must submit documentation to support the waiver which may include evidence of:

  • Extreme hardship to qualifying members,
  • Medical records, police, criminal and court records where the applicant has resided, and
  • Evidence of rehabilitation if it is to waive for substance abuse.

Foreign nationals who have previously been deported, excluded, or removed from the United States and wish to reapply for admission into the United States may be required to file an application for permission to reapply on Form I-212.

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