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Tips for Preparing Waivers

The Basics Tips for Preparing Waivers

If an immigration official finds that you may not enter the US or apply for a different status because you are "inadmissible" you may still be eligible to waive that inadmissibility based on "extreme hardship" to one of your relatives. Here are some grounds of inadmissibility that can be waived because of extreme hardship:

"Extreme hardship" means suffering that is "unusual or beyond that which would normally be expected" when a family member leaves the US. The information below is designed to guide you through the steps of brainstorming how to show extreme hardship, gathering evidence, and putting together the I-601 packet.

Brainstorming What Extreme Hardship You Can Show

When preparing your extreme hardship waiver, first ask yourself a few questions about what might happen if you leave. Here are some examples:

Scenario 1 – What Will Happen to My Relatives if I Have to Leave the US and They Stay Here?
  • Health – If there is a qualifying relative with a long term illness – will there be some one to take care of them?
  • Children – If there are children – will there be someone to take care of them? Am I the primary care taker for them? Does anyone else have the time and ability to take care of them?
  • Education – Will my spouse/parent/child be able to continue their education if I leave? If my kids have trouble in school, do they need my support?
  • Finances – Will they be able to afford the mortgage if I leave? Will they become homeless? Will my spouse have to quit their job to take care of the kids? If they do, how will they pay bills? Will my family have to close our business?
  • Family ties to the US – Are there other relatives in the US to help out my family?
  • Other factors – Are there any other ways my qualifying relative(s) will suffer if I leave?
Scenario 2 – What Will Happen to My Relatives if I Leave the US and They Come With Me?
  • Health – Will they be able to get the medical care they need? Will they have access to medications they need to treat a chronic or long term illness? If they need specialist care on a regular basis, will there be qualified specialists where we are going? Will there be factors in the environment that will make them sicker (pollution, lack of clean water, UV exposure, etc.)?
  • Children – Will my children be safe where we are going? Is there anything about them that will make them stand out and be targets of bullying or crime?
  • Education – Will my qualifying relative be able to continue their education? Will they be required to repeat years? Will the schools be able to meet the children's special needs?
  • Cultural Considerations – How fast will they be able to learn the language? Will they be able to practice their religion there?
  • Finances – Will my qualifying relative be able to get a job? Will I be able to get a job that makes enough money to support us?
  • Family ties – Does my qualifying relative have any other relatives there? Will they be able to stay in touch with family back in the US? Will they suffer because they are separated from family in the US?
  • Other Factors – Are there any other ways my qualifying relative(s) will suffer they come with me?
Gathering Evidence

Once you have an idea of what kinds of hardship your relatives will suffer, the next step is gathering evidence. There are several categories of evidence you can submit. These are just suggestions intended to get you thinking about what you might be able to provide. This list is not exhaustive. You should try to provide as much documentation as possible. With every claim you are making, think "my qualifying relative will suffer because of X" and if there is any way you can provide evidence that shows "X" is true.

Letters From Qualifying Relatives
  • Your qualifying relative should write a letter explaining how your departure would affect them. They should give answers to the questions listed in the brainstorming section and provide other information about your role in the family.
  • Older children can write letters. Younger children can contribute by making a drawing of their family.
  • Ask your relatives to write their letters on standard 8 1/2 x 11 paper.
Country Conditions Medical Evidence
  • If you are claiming extreme hardship because of a relative's illness, provide letters from their doctors with the diagnosis and information about treatment. Provide copies of medical records showing evidence of medical care (tests, hospitalizations, medication, etc.).
  • Provide information about the availability of care in the country you would go to. For example, you can search the internet for information about the number of specialists and the availability of medications.
  • If you are the sole care taker for your children and there is no one else able to take care of them, provide things like a letter from the school confirming that you are the one listed as the emergency contact for the kids, and letters from relatives explaining why they can't take your children in.
  • If you are not the primary care taker, you can provide letters from teachers, school psychologists, relatives, and others explaining why your presences is important for their welfare.
  • If you pay child support, provide evidence of payment and a letter from the primary care giver explaining how you help care for the kids.
  • If your relative is in the process of getting a degree, provide school transcripts.
  • If your children have special needs, get a report from their school about what kind of support they need.
  • Search the internet for information about schools in the country where you would go.
  • If you are claiming hardship because of financial considerations, provide copies of bank statements, tax records, pay stubs, and bills.
  • If you have a mortgage, provide the loan agreement, deed, and statement from the bank showing what you still owe.
  • If you are needed to help in a family business, provide the business records.

As was said above, this list is not exhaustive. There might be things about your specific case that requires different kinds of evidence. If you have any questions about how to show extreme hardship, ask your attorney.

Putting Together the Packet

Your waiver packet must include the application form (Form I-601) and the supporting evidence. Here are some tips on putting together the evidence.

Advice From USCIS

Adapted from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

  • Do not use binders or folders that cannot be easily disassembled.
  • Use ACCO two-pronged fasteners to hold together thick or bulky applications or petitions.
  • Two-hole punch the top of the material. It makes it easier to put into the file.
  • If using tabs to separate documents, place them on the bottom and not the side for ease in filing.
  • Avoid using heavy-duty staples; instead use ACCO two-pronged fasteners or heavy binder clips.
  • Avoid submitting originals unless specifically required.
  • Avoid submitting oversized documentation when possible.
Make Everything 8 ½ x 11
  • Put everything on regular size paper. If you are sending pictures, cards, or other small documents, staple them to a full sheet of paper.
  • If people are writing letters, ask them to write them on regular size paper, instead of note book paper.
  • If including documents from overseas that are on odd length paper, fold the bottom of the paper up, so it is 8 ½ x 11.
Make Everything Single Sided
  • When immigration officials go through you packet, it will be held together at the top and attached to a folder. When documents are bound like that, it is hard to read the back sides, so make all your documents single sided.
For Long Reports – Highlight the Important Bits
  • If you are providing a long report from the internet and a lot of it doesn't really apply to your case, make sure you highlight the important parts. This will draw the immigration official's eye and make it easier for them to focus on what matters.
  • If you only need a few pages from a longer report, include the cover page and the important pages only. Leave out the rest.
Don't Forget Certified Translations
  • Every foreign language document (letters, reports, birth certificates, etc) must be accompanied by a translation. The translator must certify that s/he is competent to translate and that the translation is accurate. The certification format should include the certifier's name, signature, address, and date of certification.
Include a List of Exhibits
  • If you are providing a lot of information, provide a list of all the documents. That way the immigration official knows what they are looking at and will be able to tell if anything is missing or lost.
Include a Summary
  • Immigration officials are really busy and may not have the time to read everything closely, so give them a 1-2 page summary of the important parts.

If you have questions about how the law applies to your case, what evidence to provide, or how to put together the application, consult an New Jersey immigration lawyer at LS&P Lawyers.

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