212(d)(3) Non-Immigrant Waiver Approved for B-1/B-2 Visa Applicant Charged with Fraud/Misrepresentation and Conviction of Crimes involving Moral Turpitude

212(d)(3) Non-Immigrant Waiver Approved for B-1/B-2 Visa Applicant Charged with Fraud/Misrepresentation and Conviction of Crimes involving Moral Turpitude

We recently received approval for a 212(d)(3) non-immigrant waiver prepared on behalf of a South Korean client who was subject to a life-time bar from entering the United States due to being charged with fraud/misrepresentation pursuant to INA Section 212(a)(6)(C)(i) and multiple convictions of Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude under INA Section 212(a)(2)(A)(i).

Our client previously attended middle school, high school, and university in the United States before returning to his native country of South Korea. He recently attempted to re-enter the United States as a temporary visitor to visit his family members and long-time friends, as well as pursue an entrepreneurial venture in partnership with a U.S.-based company.

He was denied entry due to being charged with fraud/misrepresentation under INA Section 212(a)(6)(C)(i) and multiple convictions of Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude under INA Section 212(a)(2)(A)(i). He subsequently contacted my office for assistance in obtaining a waiver of both INA Section 212(a)(6)(C)(i) and 212(a)(2)(A)(i) , as well as approval of a B-1/B-2 visa to temporarily visit the U.S. in the future.

We prepared a comprehensive 212(d)(3) non-immigrant waiver in the form of a fourteen-page legal brief discussing the three legal factors set forth by Matter of Hranka, 16 I&N Dec. 491 (BIA 1978). We also submitted twelve separate exhibits supporting all of the factors set forth in our memorandum including: numerous affidavits; financial documentation; police reports and court records; military service records; business presentations and documentation; along with other vital evidence we have found necessary to secure approval of the 212(d)(3) waiver.

In the case, Matter of Hranka, 16 I&N Dec. 491 (BIA 1978), the Board of Immigration Appeals reversed a district director’s denial of a waiver application filed by a Canadian woman who had been deported for engaging in prostitution and admitted to previous heroin use.  She filed her application only two years after having been deported.  She requested entry to visit relatives and engage in various tourist activities.

In overturning the district director’s decision to deny the application, the BIA accepted as proof of rehabilitation letters from the applicant’s mother, and the principal of the high school the applicant had attended, who is a psychologist.  It held that the applicant’s reasons for entering the United States need not be compelling.  The BIA articulated three criteria for granting a waiver under INA 212(d)(3)

1.      The risks of harm in admitting the applicant;

2.      The seriousness of the acts that caused the inadmissibility; and

3.      The importance of the applicant’s reason for seeking entry.

Both Department of State and the Foreign Affairs Manual specify that any nonimmigrant may request a waiver as long as his or her presence would not be detrimental to the United States.  They provide that “while the exercise of discretion and good judgment is essential, generally, consular officers may recommend waivers for any legitimate purpose such as family visits, medical treatment (whether or not available abroad), business conferences, tourism, etc.” See 22 CFR 40.301 Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) 40.301 N3.  Furthermore, the Admissibility Review Office has confirmed that it will follow and adhere to Matter of Hranka in adjudicating requests for INA 212(d)(3) waivers.

In our client’s case, we addressed each of the factors laid out by Matter of Hranka emphasizing the importance of our client’s reason for entering the U.S.: namely, the vital importance of allowing a prior student of the United States educational system to re-visit the U.S. and visit his long-time friends; allowing our client to visit his U.S. citizen relatives who he has not seen for over 7+ years; and to facilitate the growth of the U.S. economy and promote international trade by allowing our client to meet with a U.S. company that he has entered into a contractual business agreement with.

We emphasized the non-existent risk of our client overstaying or violating the terms of a B-1/B-2 visa, given his ownership and operation of a South Korean company that requires his day-to-day managerial and operational presence; his prior lawful presence in the United States as a foreign student on a valid F-1 visa; our client’s intimate support and long-term commitment to his parents, who rely upon our client for their overall care and payment of household expenses; and our client’s legitimate business need to meet with a U.S. company, with whom he has entered into a contractual agreement.

Based upon these factors, our client was first recommended for the 212(d)(3) waiver by the interviewing consular officer at the U.S. embassy; then later approved for the 212(d)(3) non-immigrant waiver by the Admissibility Review Office in Washington D.C.; and finally, for the B-1/B-2 Visitor Visa.

These types of cases are difficult to get approved due to the tendency of US consular officers to attribute “immigrant intent” to non-immigrant visa applicants and consequently, refuse recommendation of the 212(d)(3) waiver.  This was especially so in this case because our client had multiple grounds of inadmissibility which he was subject to.

Due to our extensive preparation of the waiver and lobbying undertaken to ensure its adequate consideration and review by the U.S. consulate, our client is now able to enter the United States, visit his family members and long-time friends, and further the success of his entrepreneurial venture.

I-601 Waiver Pursuant to INA 212(h)(1)(A) and INA 212(h)(1)(B) Approved for Israeli Applicant Charged with Crimes involving Moral Turpitude

I-601 Waiver Pursuant to INA 212(h)(1)(A) and INA 212(h)(1)(B) Approved for Israeli Applicant Charged with Crimes involving Moral Turpitude

Our office received approval of the I-601 Application of Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility for a client who was subject to a lifetime ban from being admitted to the United States pursuant to INA 212(a)(2)(A)(i)(I).

Our client was charged and convicted of conduct which occurred between 1995 and 1997, for which offense he was fined over $10,000 USD and given a sentence of 31 months. These convictions triggered the lifetime inadmissibility bar pursuant to INA 212(a)(2)(A)(i)(I) “Crimes involving moral turpitude.”  After being discharged from prison, he was removed from the United States and returned to his home country of Israel.

The waiver applicant’s U.S. citizen daughter contacted me after her father was denied admission to the U.S. following his immigrant visa interview at the U.S. embassy in Israel.  We initiated work on this case after a detailed consultation by first sending the clients our Waiver Worksheets.  Our Waiver Worksheets contain a comprehensive list of questions for our clients to answer along with a detailed checklist of supporting documents to gather – all for the purpose of eliciting every piece of information that will allow us to prepare a winning immigration waiver package on behalf of our clients.

A thoroughly researched and documented waiver memorandum and package was subsequently prepared by our office based on the fact that more than 15 years have passed since the applicant was convicted of criminal offense in the United States; the clear evidence that his admission would not be contrary to the national welfare, safety or security of the United States; and that he has been fully rehabilitated.

Legal Requirements of the § 212(h) Waiver

Section 212(h) of the Immigration and Nationality Act provides a discretionary waiver for the following criminal grounds of inadmissibility:

  • Crimes involving moral turpitude (subparagraph 212(a)(2)(A)(I))
  • Multiple criminal convictions (212(a)(2)(B))
  • Prostitution and commercial vice (212(a)(2)(D))
  • Certain aliens who have asserted immunity from prosecution (212(a)(2)(E))
  • An offense of simple possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana (212(a)(2)(A)(i)(II))

INA 212(h)(1)(A) provides that certain grounds of inadmissibility under section 212(a)(2)(A)(i)(I)-(II), (B), and (E) of the Act may be waived in the case of an alien who demonstrates to the satisfaction of the Attorney General that:

  • the activities for which she is inadmissible occurred more than fifteen years before the date of the alien’s application for a visa, admission, or adjustment of status;
  • the admission would not be contrary to the national welfare, safety, or security of the U.S.; and
  • the alien has been rehabilitated;

INA 212(h)(1)(B) provides that certain grounds of inadmissibility under section 212(a)(2)(A)(i)(I)-(II), (B), (D)-(E) of the Act may be waived in the case of an alien who:

  • has a parent, spouse, son, or daughter who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States; and
  • the parent, spouse, son, or daughter would suffer “extreme hardship” on account of the alien’s ineligibility to immigrate

Waiver applicants must also show that their application should be granted as a matter of discretion, with the favorable factors outweighing the unfavorable factors in his or her case.

In support of my client’s I-601 waiver application, I prepared a comprehensive legal brief going over how the facts and circumstances of his situation met the legal standards of both INA 212(h)(1)(A) and INA 212(h)(1)(B), including citations of existing case law favorable to my client’s case.  In other words, we went beyond what was required by presenting both legal arguments and documentary evidence to demonstrate eligibility for the I-601 waiver under two separate provisions of the Immigration & Nationality Act.

I showed that my client is rehabilitated and his admission not contrary to the national welfare, safety, or security of the U.S., based upon his long-history as a successful small business owner; his charitable acts including regularly donating food to local religious-educational institutions; as well as his selfless dedication to the care and education of his U.S. citizen children. I argued that even while in prison serving his sentence, he took advantage of the educational opportunities afforded to him to earn his high school equivalency; completed a custodial skills training program; and obtained early release from prison for good behavior.

I presented in-depth evidence that he committed himself to being an ethical, law-abiding, and respected member of his community after his release from prison.   His impeccable conduct for over 15+ years as well as a myriad of affidavits by friends and family proved that our client posed absolutely no risk to the safety or welfare of the U.S., and in fact, would substantially contribute to the U.S. if admitted as a permanent resident.

It is often important in waiver applications to demonstrate (when possible) an important turning point in an applicant’s life, which provides a marker that the USCIS officer can point to and remember has having effected a fundamental change in the applicant’s outlook and conduct.

We also discussed how the unique circumstances and dynamics of this family, and being unable to lawfully reside in the U.S., was presently causing extreme psychological, emotional, medical, and financial hardship to multiple U.S. citizen qualifying relatives.  We presented arguments showing how these extreme hardship factors would worsen if our client is not admitted into the United States.

An extensive collection of fifteen separate legal exhibits also provided a variety of evidence in support of our client’s good moral character and rehabilitation, as well as a finding of extreme hardship that his qualifying relatives would suffer in the event his I-601 waiver was denied.

As a result of our efforts, our client was approved for the 601 waiver and will be receiving his lawful permanent residence to join his family in the United States.

I-601 Waiver for Crime Involving Moral Turpitude Approved for K-1 Fiance

I-601 Waiver for Crime Involving Moral Turpitude Approved for K-1 Fiancé

Our office received approval of the I-601 Application of Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility for the foreign fiancé of a U.S. citizen who is subject to a life-time bar from being admitted to the United States for conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude under INA Section 212(a)(2)(A)(i)(I).

Our office was contacted by our clients after the foreign fiancé attended his consular interview; was denied and deemed inadmissible for not disclosing a previously expunged conviction; and given a “Foreign Service of the United States of America Refusal Worksheet.” This refusal worksheet will typically notify the applicant of the specific inadmissibility (under the Immigration & Nationality Act) that the applicant is subject to, and whether the applicant is eligible to apply for a waiver or not.

Section 212(a)(2)(A) of the Act states, in pertinent parts:

(i) Any alien convicted of, or who admits having committed, or who admits committing acts which constitute the essential elements of-

(I) a crime involving moral turpitude (other than a purely political offense) or an attempt or conspiracy to commit such a crime . . . is inadmissible.

(ii) Exception.-Clause (i)(I) shall not apply to an alien who committed only one crime if-

(I) the crime was committed when the alien was under 18 years of age, and the crime was committed (and the alien was released from any confinement to a prison or correctional institution imposed for the crime) more than 5 years before the date of the application for a visa or other documentation and the date of application for admission to the United States, or

(II) the maximum penalty possible for the crime of which the alien was convicted (or which the alien admits having committed or of which the acts that the alien admits having committed constituted the essential elements) did not exceed imprisonment for one year and, if the alien was convicted of such crime, the alien was not sentenced to a term of imprisonment in excess of 6 months (regardless of the extent to which the sentence was ultimately executed).

The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) held in Matter of Perez-Contreras, 20 I&N Dec. 615, 617-18 (BIA 1992), that:

[M]oral turpitude is a nebulous concept, which refers generally to conduct that shocks the public conscience as being inherently base, vile, or depraved, contrary to the rules of morality and the duties owed between man and man, either one’s fellow man or society in general.. ..In determining whether a crime involves moral turpitude, we consider whether the act is accompanied by a vicious motive or corrupt mind. Where knowing or intentional conduct is an element of an offense, we have found moral turpitude to be present. However, where the required mens rea may not be determined from the statute, moral turpitude does not inhere.

Section 212(h) of the Act provides, in pertinent part, that:

(h) Waiver of subsection (a)(2)(A)(i)(I), (II), (B), (D), and (E).-The Attorney General [now the Secretary of Homeland Security, “Secretary”] may, in [her] discretion, waive the application of subparagraphs (A)(i)(I) … of subsection (a)(2) if-

(B) in the case of,an immigrant who is the spouse, parent, son, or daughter of a citizen of the United States or an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence if it established to the satisfaction of the [Secretary] that the alien’s denial of admission would result in extreme hardship to the United States citizen or lawfully resident spouse, parent, son, or daughter of such alien.

(2) the [Secretary], in [her] discretion, and pursuant to such terms, conditions and procedures as [she] may by regulations prescribe, has consented to the alien’s applying or reapplying for a visa, for admission to the United States, or adjustment of status.

Extreme hardship is “not a definable term of fixed and inflexible content or meaning,” but “necessarily depends upon the facts and circumstances peculiar to each case.” Matter of Hwang, 10 I&N Dec. 448, 451 (BIA 1964). In Matter of Cervantes-Gonzalez, the Board provided a list of factors it deemed relevant in determining whether an alien has established extreme hardship to a qualifying relative. 22 I&N Dec. 560, 565 (BIA 1999). The factors include the presence of a lawful permanent resident or United States citizen spouse or parent in this country; the qualifying relative’s family ties outside the United States; the conditions in the country or countries to which the qualifying relative would relocate and the extent of the qualifying relative’s ties in such countries; the financial impact of departure from this country; and significant conditions of health, particularly when tied to an unavailability of suitable medical care in the country to which the qualifying relative would relocate. Id. The Board added that not all of the foregoing factors need be analyzed in any given case and emphasized that the list of factors was not exclusive. Id . at 566.

The Board has also held that the common or typical results of removal and inadmissibility do not constitute extreme hardship, and has listed certain individual hardship factors considered common rather than extreme. These factors include: economic disadvantage, loss of current employment, inability to maintain one’s present standard of living, inability to pursue a chosen profession, separation from family members, severing community ties, cultural readjustment after living in the United States for many years, cultural adjustment of qualifying relatives who have never lived outside the United States, inferior economic and educational opportunities in the foreign country, or inferior medical facilities in the foreign country. See generally Matter of Cervantes-Gonzalez, 22 I&N Dec. at 568; Matter of Pilch, 21 I&N Dec. 627, 632-33 (BIA 1996); Matter of Ige, 20 I&N Dec. 880, 883 (BIA 1994);Matter of Ngai, 19 I&N Dec. 245, 246-47 (Comm’r 1984); Matter of Kim, 15 I&N Dec. 88, 89-90 (BIA 1974); Matter of Shaughnessy, 12 I&N Dec. 810, 813 (BIA 1968).

However, though hardships may not be extreme when considered abstractly or individually, the Board has made it clear that “[r]elevant factors, though not extreme in themselves, must be considered in the aggregate in determining whether extreme hardship exists.” Matter of 0-J-0-, 21 I&N Dec. 381, 383 (BIA 1996) (quoting Matter of Ige, 20 I&N Dec. at 882). The adjudicator “must consider the entire range of factors concerning hardship in their totality and determine whether the combination of hardships takes the case beyond those hardships ordinarily associated with deportation.” Id.

The actual hardship associated with an abstract hardship factor such as family separation, economic disadvantage, cultural readjustment, et cetera, differs in nature and severity depending on the unique circumstances of each case, as does the cumulative hardship a qualifying relative experiences as a result of aggregated individual hardships. See, e.g.,, 23 I&N Dec. 45, 51 (BIA 2001) (distinguishing Matter of Pilch regarding hardship faced by qualifying relatives on the basis of variations in the length of residence in the United States and the ability to speak the language of the country to which they would relocate).

For example, though family separation has been found to be a common result of inadmissibility or removal, separation from family living in the United States can also be the most important single hardship factor in considering hardship in the aggregate. Salcido-Salcido v. INS, 138 F.3d 1292, 1293 (9th Cir. 1998) (quoting Contreras-Buenfil v. INS, 712 F.2d 401, 403 (9th Cir. 1983)); but see Matter of Ngai, 19 I&N Dec. at 24 7 (separation of spouse and children from applicant not extreme hardship due to conflicting evidence in the record and because applicant and spouse had been voluntarily separated from one another for 28 years).

Therefore, the AAO considers the totality of the circumstances in determining whether denial of admission would result in extreme hardship to a qualifying relative.

Immediately after this case was opened, we initiated our comprehensive immigrant waiver preparation process that has allowed us to prepare winning I-601, I-601A, I-212, and 212(d)(3) waiver applications for the past 17+ years.

We provide our clients with a comprehensive waiver worksheet containing a thorough array of questions to answer about their lives.  This allows us to “brainstorm” every relevant factor (such as medical, physical, psychological, financial, legal, or other hardships, along with any other persuasive argument) that may apply. We then analyze each factor and decide upon the most effective way to present it to the USCIS in our waiver application.

Our waiver worksheet also contains a long checklist of supporting documents to gather and present based upon our experience with successful waiver applications submitted during the past 17+ years.

Overall, our waiver preparation process is constantly improved upon since we regularly prepare and submit winning immigrant waiver applications for clients who come from countries throughout the world.  We are proud to receive multiple approvals on I-601, I-601A, I-212, and 212(d)(3) waiver applications filed on behalf of our clients every single month.

The essential factors we highlighted in our 31 page legal memorandum (including 19 separate legal exhibits to prove every substantial element of our I-601 waiver case) include the following:

  • The U.S. citizen fiancée lives near her aging U.S. citizen parents and assists her father as he copes with a multitude of medical conditions. In addition to caring for her father, the U.S. citizen fiancée also struggles to manage her own health as she suffers from diabetes and mitral valve prolapse, and battles depression and anxiety.
  • The U.S. citizen fiancée harbors the emotional scars of a traumatic early life, and has been diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Persistent Depressive Disorder.
  • The U.S. citizen fiancée’s mother manages the the condition of diabetes and arthritis.
  • The U.S. citizen fiancée feels tremendous responsibility to care for her parents and continue to be physically present for them, especially as their health further deteriorates. She suffers immense anxiety at the possibility of re-locating abroad and being separated from her ailing parents, should the I-601 waiver application be denied
  • The U.S. citizen fiancée maintains employment, but she has accrued substantial credit card debt paying for flights to visit her foreign fiance abroad. More importantly, the stress of her fiancé’s uncertain immigration status, coupled with her psychiatric conditions, has caused her work performance to be negatively impacted and she is fearful of losing her job. The mental anguish she is facing prompted her to receive a referral to a counselor through the Employee Assistance Program at her place of employment.

In these types of cases, it is always important to present and prove the hardships of close U.S. citizen or lawful permanent relatives whose well-being are intimately tied to that of the qualifying relative; and demonstrate how all of the parties involved would be impacted by the immigration consequences of their situation.

Due to our efforts on behalf of this family, the I-601 Waiver application was approved. The K-1 foreign fiancé may now lawfully enter the United States; the couple can get married within 90 days of his entry into the U.S; and the foreign applicant may proceed with his process to Adjust Status to Lawful Permanent Residence thereafter.

I-601 Waiver for Multiple Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude and Adjustment of Status to Permanent Residence Approved

I-601 Waiver for Multiple Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude and Adjustment of Status to Permanent Residence Approved

Our office received approval of both the I-485 Application to Adjust Status to Permanent Residence and the I-601 Application of Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility for a citizen of Pakistan. Our client was subject to a life-time bar from being admitted to the United States as a lawful permanent resident due to conviction of multiple crimes involving moral turpitude under INA Section 212(a)(2)(A)(i)(I).  

Our client was previously granted asylum and living lawfully inside the United States when he was convicted of two misdemeanor crimes over 15 years ago and sentenced to 11 months of probation. Our office was engaged by the client to prepare and file the I-485 Application to Adjust Status package based on his marriage to a U.S. citizen spouse, as well as prepare and submit the I-601 “extreme hardship” waiver due to his inadmissibility for conviction of multiple CIMT (“Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude”).

We provided the client with a detailed letter going over the the I-485 Adjustment of Status process, including a comprehensive checklist of documents for him and his spouse to gather and return to our office. We prepared all of the required USCIS forms; verified that every piece of information required by the USCIS was answered accurately; and submitted a meticulously prepared Adjustment of Status package to the USCIS while simultaneously preparing the I-601 “extreme hardship” waiver.

I initiated our firm’s comprehensive process for preparation of powerful and effective immigration waiver applications.  I forwarded our Extreme Hardship Worksheet to my clients, which contains questions designed to elicit extreme hardships and other persuasive factors.  I also recommended the couple to a clinical psychologist well-versed in preparing psychological evaluations for immigration waivers and who offers a significantly discounted fee for my clients (please refer to my post on the elements of a powerful psychological evaluation for I-601 waiver applications for more details).

Once we identified the most important factors of the case, we prepared a comprehensive legal brief going over how the facts and circumstances of my client’s situation met the legal standards used to define “extreme hardship.” We prepared a 31 page legal memorandum thoroughly presenting relevant case law as well as the extreme hardship and discretionary factors relevant to this case.  A detailed table of exhibits providing objective proof of every crucial assertion made in our waiver was also included, as it is with all of our waiver applications.  

Section 212(a)(2)(A) of the Immigration & Nationality Act states, in pertinent parts:

(i) Any alien convicted of, or who admits having committed, or who admits committing acts which constitute the essential elements of-

(I) a crime involving moral turpitude (other than a purely political offense) or an attempt or conspiracy to commit such a crime . . . is inadmissible.

(ii) Exception.-Clause (i)(I) shall not apply to an alien who committed only one crime if-

(I) the crime was committed when the alien was under 18 years of age, and the crime was committed (and the alien was released from any confinement to a prison or correctional institution imposed for the crime) more than 5 years before the date of the application for a visa or other documentation and the date of application for admission to the United States, or

(II) the maximum penalty possible for the crime of which the alien was convicted (or which the alien admits having committed or of which the acts that the alien admits having committed constituted the essential elements) did not exceed imprisonment for one year and, if the alien was convicted of such crime, the alien was not sentenced to a term of imprisonment in excess of 6 months (regardless of the extent to which the sentence was ultimately executed).

The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) held in Matter of Perez-Contreras, 20 I&N Dec. 615, 617-18 (BIA 1992), that:

[M]oral turpitude is a nebulous concept, which refers generally to conduct that shocks the public conscience as being inherently base, vile, or depraved, contrary to the rules of morality and the duties owed between man and man, either one’s fellow man or society in general.. ..In determining whether a crime involves moral turpitude, we consider whether the act is accompanied by a vicious motive or corrupt mind. Where knowing or intentional conduct is an element of an offense, we have found moral turpitude to be present. However, where the required mens rea may not be determined from the statute, moral turpitude does not inhere.

Section 212(h) of the Act provides, in pertinent part, that:

(h) Waiver of subsection (a)(2)(A)(i)(I), (II), (B), (D), and (E).-The Attorney General [now the Secretary of Homeland Security, “Secretary”] may, in [her] discretion, waive the application of subparagraphs (A)(i)(I) … of subsection (a)(2) if-

(B) in the case of,an immigrant who is the spouse, parent, son, or daughter of a citizen of the United States or an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence if it established to the satisfaction of the [Secretary] that the alien’s denial of admission would result in extreme hardship to the United States citizen or lawfully resident spouse, parent, son, or daughter of such alien.

(2) the [Secretary], in [her] discretion, and pursuant to such terms, conditions and procedures as [she] may by regulations prescribe, has consented to the alien’s applying or reapplying for a visa, for admission to the United States, or adjustment of status.

Extreme hardship is “not a definable term of fixed and inflexible content or meaning,” but “necessarily depends upon the facts and circumstances peculiar to each case.” Matter of Hwang, 10 I&N Dec. 448, 451 (BIA 1964). In Matter of Cervantes-Gonzalez, the Board provided a list of factors it deemed relevant in determining whether an alien has established extreme hardship to a qualifying relative. 22 I&N Dec. 560, 565 (BIA 1999). The factors include the presence of a lawful permanent resident or United States citizen spouse or parent in this country; the qualifying relative’s family ties outside the United States; the conditions in the country or countries to which the qualifying relative would relocate and the extent of the qualifying relative’s ties in such countries; the financial impact of departure from this country; and significant conditions of health, particularly when tied to an unavailability of suitable medical care in the country to which the qualifying relative would relocate. Id. The Board added that not all of the foregoing factors need be analyzed in any given case and emphasized that the list of factors was not exclusive. Id . at 566.

The Board has also held that the common or typical results of removal and inadmissibility do not constitute extreme hardship, and has listed certain individual hardship factors considered common rather than extreme. These factors include: economic disadvantage, loss of current employment, inability to maintain one’s present standard of living, inability to pursue a chosen profession, separation from family members, severing community ties, cultural readjustment after living in the United States for many years, cultural adjustment of qualifying relatives who have never lived outside the United States, inferior economic and educational opportunities in the foreign country, or inferior medical facilities in the foreign country. See generally Matter of Cervantes-Gonzalez, 22 I&N Dec. at 568; Matter of Pilch, 21 I&N Dec. 627, 632-33 (BIA 1996); Matter of Ige, 20 I&N Dec. 880, 883 (BIA 1994); Matter of Ngai, 19 I&N Dec. 245, 246-47 (Comm’r 1984); Matter of Kim, 15 I&N Dec. 88, 89-90 (BIA 1974); Matter of Shaughnessy, 12 I&N Dec. 810, 813 (BIA 1968).

However, though hardships may not be extreme when considered abstractly or individually, the Board has made it clear that “[r]elevant factors, though not extreme in themselves, must be considered in the aggregate in determining whether extreme hardship exists.” Matter of 0-J-0-, 21 I&N Dec. 381, 383 (BIA 1996) (quoting Matter of Ige, 20 I&N Dec. at 882). The adjudicator “must consider the entire range of factors concerning hardship in their totality and determine whether the combination of hardships takes the case beyond those hardships ordinarily associated with deportation.” Id.

The actual hardship associated with an abstract hardship factor such as family separation, economic disadvantage, cultural readjustment, et cetera, differs in nature and severity depending on the unique circumstances of each case, as does the cumulative hardship a qualifying relative experiences as a result of aggregated individual hardships. See, e.g., Matter of Bing Chih Kao and Mei Tsui Lin, 23 I&N Dec. 45, 51 (BIA 2001) (distinguishing Matter of Pilch regarding hardship faced by qualifying relatives on the basis of variations in the length of residence in the United States and the ability to speak the language of the country to which they would relocate).

For example, though family separation has been found to be a common result of inadmissibility or removal, separation from family living in the United States can also be the most important single hardship factor in considering hardship in the aggregate. Salcido-Salcido v. INS, 138 F.3d 1292, 1293 (9th Cir. 1998) (quoting Contreras-Buenfil v. INS, 712 F.2d 401, 403 (9th Cir. 1983)); but see Matter of Ngai, 19 I&N Dec. at 24 7 (separation of spouse and children from applicant not extreme hardship due to conflicting evidence in the record and because applicant and spouse had been voluntarily separated from one another for 28 years).

Therefore, the AAO considers the totality of the circumstances in determining whether denial of admission would result in extreme hardship to a qualifying relative.

Some of the favorable factors that contributed to approval of this I-601 “extreme hardship” waiver for conviction of multiple crimes involving moral turpitude include the following:

  • The U.S. citizen spouse suffers from three major psychiatric disorders: Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Persistent Depressive “Dysthymic” Disorder, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – Chronic, with a significant family history of psychological illness.
  • The U.S. citizen spouse has a personal history of trauma that has precipitated the development of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which has now been further exacerbated by the threatened separation from her husband
  • The U.S. citizen spouse suffers from asthma, sciatica, and pain due to ailments associated with advancing age. She can only manage her daily life and responsibilities due to the emotional and psychological support and physical assistance she receives from her husband
  • The U.S. citizen spouse’s emotional and psychological status is considered fragile, and long-term separation from her husband will place her at substantial risk for psychiatric decompensation according to a psycho-social evaluation conducted by a licensed clinical psychologist
  • The couple have significant financial debt, and are dependent on the husband’s meager income (with assistance from their adult children), to survive economically.

Our I-601 waiver also thoroughly addressed how the possible scenario of relocation from the U.S. (should the waiver not be granted and the couple be forced to relocate to Pakistan) would also cause extreme hardship to the U.S. citizen spouse:

  • The couple would live in poverty and in constant fear of assault as a member of a persecuted religious minority in Pakistan;
  • The U.S. citizen wife would be exposed to high risk of exposure to infectious disease in a country with third-world level medical infrastructure;
  • The U.S. citizen spouse would lose access to the quality health care needed to monitor and mitigate her asthma and sciatica; no longer be able to obtain and afford necessary medications, nor be able to receive the emergency medical care needed to potentially save her life in a medical crisis;
  • The U.S. citizen spouse would be unable to afford health insurance in Pakistan;
  • The U.S. citizen spouse would lose access to a medical infrastructure that ensures prescriptions are refilled in a timely manner;
  • The U.S. citizen spouse would lose access to competent mental health treatment services at a time when she will be under extraordinary stress and most in need of such services;
  • The U.S. citizen spouse would face stigma associated with mental illness and her religious status, impairing her re-integration into Pakistan’s culture and society;
  • The U.S. citizen spouse would have virtually no job prospects given that she has little employment experience, very limited education, the high rate of unemployment in Pakistan, and her advancing age;
  • The U.S. citizen spouse would face discrimination because of her religious status in a country that has legalized discrimination and has a history of assaults on this minority;
  • The U.S. citizen spouse would be wholly separated from her family in the U.S. and unable to afford to return to the U.S. on an emergency basis.

Extreme hardship is a requirement for eligibility, but once established it is but one favorable discretionary factor to be considered. Matter of Mendez-Moralez, 21 I&N Dec. 296, 301 (BIA 1996). For waivers of inadmissibility, the burden is on the applicant to establish that a grant of a waiver of inadmissibility is warranted in the exercise of discretion. Id. at 299. The adverse factors evidencing an alien’s undesirability as a permanent resident must be balanced with the social and humane considerations presented on his behalf to determine whether the grant of relief in the exercise of discretion appears to be in the best interests of this country. Id. at 300.  In Matter of Mendez-Moralez, in evaluating whether section 212(h)(1)(B) relief is warranted in the exercise of discretion, the BIA stated that:

The factors adverse to the applicant include the nature and underlying circumstances of the exclusion ground at issue, the presence of additional significant violations of this country’s immigration laws, the existence of a criminal record and, if so, its nature, recency and seriousness, and the presence of other evidence indicative of an alien’s bad character or undesirability as a permanent resident of this country . . . . The favorable considerations include family ties in the United States, residence of long duration in this country (particularly where the alien began his residency at a young age), evidence of hardship to the alien and his family if he is excluded and deported, service in this country’s Armed Forces, a history of stable employment, the existence of property or business ties, evidence of value and service to the community, evidence of genuine rehabilitation if a criminal record exists, and other evidence attesting to the alien’s good character (e.g., affidavits from family, friends, and responsible community representatives). Id. at 301.

The BIA further states that upon review of the record as a whole, a balancing of the equities and adverse matters must be made to determine whether discretion should be favorably exercised. The equities that the applicant for relief must bring forward to establish that he merits a favorable exercise of administrative discretion will depend in each case on the nature and circumstances of the ground of exclusion sought to be waived and on the presence of any additional adverse matters, and as the negative factors grow more serious, it becomes incumbent upon the applicant to introduce additional offsetting favorable evidence. Id. at 301.

In this case, we also discussed and presented proof of every factor we determined to be important for purposes of securing approval of the I-601 waiver.  We determine these factors based upon close analysis of the clients’ personal situations as well as upon my experience of obtaining approval of I-601, I-212, I-601A, and 212(d)(3) waivers for the past 17 years.   These factors included but were not limited to:

  • A summary discussion of the convictions for crimes involving moral turpitude, as well as any extenuating circumstances that led to the violations and the corresponding the sentence received
  • The applicant’s long period of residence and productive service inside the United States including the presence of a U.S. citizen spouse and several U.S. citizen children
  • The applicant being well-respected in the local religious community of his faith
  • The applicant’s tremendous efforts to raise law-abiding children and support their higher education, which led to all of his children attaining bachelor-level university degrees or higher
  • Numerous sworn-affidavits by family, friends, and prominent officials in a position to judge the character and rehabilitation of the applicant

As a result of our efforts, both the I-485 Application to Adjust Status to Permanent Residence and the I-601 Application of Waiver of Inadmissiblity were approved and this couple can continue to reside lawfully inside the United States.

I-601 Waiver Approved for Multiple Convictions of Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude

I-601 Waiver Approved for Multiple Convictions of Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude

The applicant is a citizen of India who was found inadmissible under section 212(a)(2)(A)(i)(I) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (the Act), 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(2)(A)(i)(I), for having been convicted of two separate crimes involving moral turpitude: robbery and theft.

The applicant sought a waiver of inadmissibility under section 212(h) of the Act in order to reside in the United States with his U.S. citizen spouse.

Section 212(a)(2)(A) of the Act states, in pertinent parts:

(i) Any alien convicted of, or who admits having committed, or who admits committing acts which constitute the essential elements of-

(I) a crime involving moral turpitude (other than a purely political offense) or an attempt or conspiracy to commit such a crime . . . is inadmissible.

(ii) Exception.-Clause (i)(I) shall not apply to an alien who committed only one crime if-

(I) the crime was committed when the alien was under 18 years of age, and the crime was committed (and the alien was released from any confinement to a prison or correctional institution imposed for the crime) more than 5 years before the date of the application for a visa or other documentation and the date of application for admission to the United States, or

(II) the maximum penalty possible for the crime of which the alien was convicted (or which the alien admits having committed or of which the acts that the alien admits having committed constituted the essential elements) did not exceed imprisonment for one year and, if the alien was convicted of such crime, the alien was not sentenced to a term of imprisonment in excess of 6 months (regardless of the extent to which the sentence was ultimately executed).

The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) held in Matter of Perez-Contreras, 20 I&N Dec. 615, 617-18 (BIA 1992), that:

[M]oral turpitude is a nebulous concept, which refers generally to conduct that shocks the public conscience as being inherently base, vile, or depraved, contrary to the rules of morality and the duties owed between man and man, either one’s fellow man or society in general.. ..In determining whether a crime involves moral turpitude, we consider whether the act is accompanied by a vicious motive or corrupt mind. Where knowing or intentional conduct is an element of an offense, we have found moral turpitude to be present. However, where the required mens rea may not be determined from the statute, moral turpitude does not inhere.

Section 212(h) of the Act provides, in pertinent part, that:

(h) Waiver of subsection (a)(2)(A)(i)(I), (II), (B), (D), and (E).-The Attorney General [now the Secretary of Homeland Security, “Secretary”] may, in [her] discretion, waive the application of subparagraphs (A)(i)(I) … of subsection (a)(2) if-

(B) in the case of,an immigrant who is the spouse, parent, son, or daughter of a citizen of the United States or an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence if it established to the satisfaction of the [Secretary] that the alien’s denial of admission would result in extreme hardship to the United States citizen or lawfully resident spouse, parent, son, or daughter of such alien.

(2) the [Secretary], in [her] discretion, and pursuant to such terms, conditions and procedures as [she] may by regulations prescribe, has consented to the alien’s applying or reapplying for a visa, for admission to the United States, or adjustment of status.

Extreme hardship is “not a definable term of fixed and inflexible content or meaning,” but “necessarily depends upon the facts and circumstances peculiar to each case.” Matter of Hwang, 10 I&N Dec. 448, 451 (BIA 1964). In Matter of Cervantes-Gonzalez, the Board provided a list of factors it deemed relevant in determining whether an alien has established extreme hardship to a qualifying relative. 22 I&N Dec. 560, 565 (BIA 1999). The factors include the presence of a lawful permanent resident or United States citizen spouse or parent in this country; the qualifying relative’s family ties outside the United States; the conditions in the country or countries to which the qualifying relative would relocate and the extent of the qualifying relative’s ties in such countries; the financial impact of departure from this country; and significant conditions of health, particularly when tied to an unavailability of suitable medical care in the country to which the qualifying relative would relocate. Id. The Board added that not all of the foregoing factors need be analyzed in any given case and emphasized that the list of factors was not exclusive. Id . at 566.

The Board has also held that the common or typical results of removal and inadmissibility do not constitute extreme hardship, and has listed certain individual hardship factors considered common rather than extreme. These factors include: economic disadvantage, loss of current employment, inability to maintain one’s present standard of living, inability to pursue a chosen profession, separation from family members, severing community ties, cultural readjustment after living in the United States for many years, cultural adjustment of qualifying relatives who have never lived outside the United States, inferior economic and educational opportunities in the foreign country, or inferior medical facilities in the foreign country. See generally Matter of Cervantes-Gonzalez, 22 I&N Dec. at 568; Matter of Pilch, 21 I&N Dec. 627, 632-33 (BIA 1996); Matter of Ige, 20 I&N Dec. 880, 883 (BIA 1994); Matter of Ngai, 19 I&N Dec. 245, 246-47 (Comm’r 1984); Matter of Kim, 15 I&N Dec. 88, 89-90 (BIA 1974); Matter of Shaughnessy, 12 I&N Dec. 810, 813 (BIA 1968).

However, though hardships may not be extreme when considered abstractly or individually, the Board has made it clear that “[r]elevant factors, though not extreme in themselves, must be considered in the aggregate in determining whether extreme hardship exists.” Matter of 0-J-0-, 21 I&N Dec. 381, 383 (BIA 1996) (quoting Matter of Ige, 20 I&N Dec. at 882). The adjudicator “must consider the entire range of factors concerning hardship in their totality and determine whether the combination of hardships takes the case beyond those hardships ordinarily associated with deportation.” Id.

The actual hardship associated with an abstract hardship factor such as family separation, economic disadvantage, cultural readjustment, et cetera, differs in nature and severity depending on the unique circumstances of each case, as does the cumulative hardship a qualifying relative experiences as a result of aggregated individual hardships. See, e.g., Matter of Bing Chih Kao and Mei Tsui Lin, 23 I&N Dec. 45, 51 (BIA 2001) (distinguishing Matter of Pilch regarding hardship faced by qualifying relatives on the basis of variations in the length of residence in the United States and the ability to speak the language of the country to which they would relocate).

For example, though family separation has been found to be a common result of inadmissibility or removal, separation from family living in the United States can also be the most important single hardship factor in considering hardship in the aggregate. Salcido-Salcido v. INS, 138 F.3d 1292, 1293 (9th Cir. 1998) (quoting Contreras-Buenfil v. INS, 712 F.2d 401, 403 (9th Cir. 1983)); but see Matter of Ngai, 19 I&N Dec. at 24 7 (separation of spouse and children from applicant not extreme hardship due to conflicting evidence in the record and because applicant and spouse had been voluntarily separated from one another for 28 years).

Therefore, the AAO considers the totality of the circumstances in determining whether denial of admission would result in extreme hardship to a qualifying relative.

Some of the favorable factors that contributed to approval of this I-601 “extreme hardship” waiver for convictions of multiple crimes involving moral turpitude include the following:

  • The qualifying relatives for purposes of the I-601 waiver include the U.S. citizen spouse and two U.S. citizen children, all of whom reside in the United States
  • The U.S. citizen children are already developing behavioral problems due to separation from their father, including the youngest child refusing to eat and becoming critically underweight
  • The U.S. citizen wife has been diagnosed with psychological disorders, with a personal and family history of chronic illness and anxiety
  • The Indian husband’s income is not sufficient to support two households (his own and that of his family in the U.S.), and this is causing severe financial stress that is exacerbating the physical, psychological, and emotion state of the U.S. citizen wife and their children
  • The U.S. citizen wife suffers from a physical ailment, which only got worse during her attempted residence in India to be with her husband

Extreme hardship is a requirement for eligibility, but once established it is but one favorable discretionary factor to be considered. Matter of Mendez-Moralez, 21 I&N Dec. 296, 301 (BIA 1996). For waivers of inadmissibility, the burden is on the applicant to establish that a grant of a waiver of inadmissibility is warranted in the exercise of discretion. Id. at 299. The adverse factors evidencing an alien’s undesirability as a permanent resident must be balanced with the social and humane considerations presented on his behalf to determine whether the grant of relief in the exercise of discretion appears to be in the best interests of this country. Id. at 300.  In Matter of Mendez-Moralez, in evaluating whether section 212(h)(1)(B) relief is warranted in the exercise of discretion, the BIA stated that:

The factors adverse to the applicant include the nature and underlying circumstances of the exclusion ground at issue, the presence of additional significant violations of this country’s immigration laws, the existence of a criminal record and, if so, its
nature, recency and seriousness, and the presence of other evidence indicative of an alien’s bad character or undesirability as a permanent resident of this country . . . . The favorable considerations include family ties in the United States, residence of long duration in this country (particularly where the alien began his residency at a young age), evidence of hardship to the alien and his family if he is excluded and deported, service in this country’s Armed Forces, a history of stable employment, the existence of property or business ties, evidence of value and service to the community, evidence of genuine rehabilitation if a criminal record exists, and other evidence attesting to the alien’s good character (e.g., affidavits from family, friends, and responsible community representatives). Id. at 301.

The BIA further states that upon review of the record as a whole, a balancing of the equities and adverse matters must be made to determine whether discretion should be favorably exercised. The equities that the applicant for relief must bring forward to establish that he merits a favorable exercise of administrative discretion will depend in each case on the nature and circumstances of the ground of exclusion sought to be waived and on the presence of any additional adverse matters, and as the negative factors grow more serious, it becomes incumbent upon the applicant to introduce additional offsetting favorable evidence. Id. at 301.

In this case, we also discussed and presented proof of every factor we determined to be important for purposes of securing approval of the I-601 waiver.  We determine these factors based upon close analysis of the clients’ personal situations as well as upon my experience of obtaining approval of I-601, I-212, I-601A, and 212(d)(3) waivers for the past 15 years.   These factors included but were not limited to:

  • A summary discussion of the convictions for crimes involving moral turpitude, as well as any extenuating circumstances that led to the violations and the corresponding the sentence received
  • The applicant’s employment for a prestigious multinational company
  • The applicant’s involvement in humanitarian efforts
  • The applicant’s acceptance at one of the most prestigious universities in the world for graduate-level study
  • Numerous sworn-affidavits by family, colleagues, and prominent officials in a position to judge the character and rehabilitation of the applicant

As a result of our efforts, the I-601 waiver was approved and this family now resides together lawfully inside the United States.

Exercise of Discretion by the USCIS Officer on Immigrant Waivers

Exercise of Discretion by the USCIS Officer on Immigrant Waivers

If an immigrant waiver applicant meets all other statutory and regulatory requirements of a waiver, the USCIS officer must determine whether to approve the waiver as a matter of discretion. 

If the applicant does not meet another statutory requirement of the waiver, USCIS denies the waiver and a discretionary analysis is not necessary.

However, an officer may still include a discretionary analysis if the applicant’s conduct is so egregious that a discretionary denial would be warranted even if the applicant had met the other statutory and regulatory requirements.  Adding a discretionary analysis to a denial is considered useful if an appellate body on review disagrees with the officer’s conclusion that the applicant failed to meet the statutory requisites for the waiver.

According to the USCIS Policy Manual up-to-date as of August 23, 2017, meeting the other statutory and regulatory requirements of an immigrant waiver alone does not entitle the applicant to relief. See Reyes-Cornejo v. Holder, 734 F.3d 636 (7th Cir. 2013). See Matter of Cervantes-Gonzalez, 22 I&N Dec. 560 (BIA 1999). See Matter of Mendez-Moralez, 21 I&N Dec. 296 (BIA 1996).

The discretionary determination is the final step in the adjudication of a waiver application. The applicant bears the burden of proving that he or she merits a favorable exercise of discretion. See Matter of De Lucia, 11 I&N Dec. 565 (BIA 1966). See Matter of T-S-Y-, 7 I&N Dec. 582 (BIA 1957).

We consider the exercise of discretion by the adjudicating USCIS officer to be an essential part of any waiver approval that my office has obtained on behalf of our clients for the past 15 years.  Consequently, I always make sure to include every favorable factor from our client’s lives and backgrounds, that in our experience, have proven significant and pivotal in the approval of immigrant (and non-immigrant waivers) for our clients.

The legal basis for the exercise of discretion in immigrant waiver applications commonly filed by my office is highlighted below:

  1. The provisional unlawful presence waiver process allows immediate relatives of U.S. citizens (spouses, children, or parents) who are currently residing in the United States to apply for a provisional waiver while in the United States, provided they meet all eligibility requirements outlined in 8 CFR 212.7(e) and warrant a favorable exercise of discretion.
  2. INA 212(h)(1)(B) provides that certain grounds of inadmissibility under section 212(a)(2)(A)(i)(I)-(II), (B), (D)-(E) of the Act may be waived in the case of an alien who:
    1. has a parent, spouse, son, or daughter who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States; and
    2. the parent, spouse, son, or daughter would suffer “extreme hardship” on account of the alien’s ineligibility to immigrate
    3. Waiver applicants must also show that their application should be granted as a matter of discretion, with the favorable factors outweighing the unfavorable factors in his or her case.
  3.  INA section 212(a)(9)(B)(v), 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(9)(B)(v) authorizes the Secretary to waive the 3- and 10-year unlawful presence bars for individuals seeking admission to the United States as immigrants if they can show that the refusal of admission would result in extreme hardship to a qualifying U.S. citizen or LPR spouse or parent, and provided that the applicant warrants a favorable exercise of discretion. See Matter of Mendez-Moralez, 21 I&N Dec. 296, 301 (BIA 1996).

The below details some of the discretionary factors relevant to the waiver adjudication as set for by the USCIS Policy Manual:

Non-Exhaustive List of Factors that May Be Relevant in the Discretionary Analysis

CategoryFavorable FactorsUnfavorable Factors
Waiver Eligibility• Meeting certain other statutory requirements of the waiver, including a finding of extreme hardship to a qualifying family member, if applicable. See Matter of Mendez-Moralez, 21 I&N Dec. 296 (BIA 1996) (relating to a criminal waiver under INA 212(h)(1)(B)). See Matter of Marin, 16 I&N Dec. 581 (BIA 1978) (relating to an INA 212(c) waiver). See Matter of Tijam, 22 I&N Dec. 408 (BIA 1998) (relating to a fraud or misrepresentation finding (INA 212(a)(6)(C)(i)) and the discretionary waiver under former INA 241(a)(1)(H) [renumbered as INA 237(a)(1)(H) by IIRIRA]).

• Eligibility for waiver of other inadmissibility grounds.
Not applicable – Not meeting the statutory requirements of the waiver results in a waiver denial. A discretionary analysis is not necessary.
Family & Community Ties• Family ties to the United States and the closeness of the underlying relationships.

• Hardship to the applicant or to non-qualifying lawful permanent residents (LPRs) or U.S. citizen relatives or employers.

• Length of lawful residence in the United States and status held during that residence, particularly where the applicant began residency at a young age.

• Significant health concerns that affect the qualifying relative.

• Difficulties the qualifying relative would be likely to face if the qualifying relative moves abroad with the applicant due to country conditions, inability to adapt, restrictions on residence, or other factors that may be claimed.

• Honorable service in the U.S. armed forces or other evidence of value and service to the community.

• Property or business ties in the United States.
Absence of community ties.
Criminal History & Moral Character (or both)• Respect for law and order, and good moral character, which may be evidenced by affidavits from family, friends, and responsible community representatives.

• Reformation of character and rehabilitation.

• Community service beyond any imposed by the courts.

• Considerable passage of time since deportation or removal.
• Moral depravity or criminal tendencies reflected by an ongoing or continuing criminal record, particularly the nature, scope, seriousness, and recent occurrence of criminal activity.
 
• Repeated or serious violations of immigration laws, which evidence a disregard for U.S. law.

• Lack of reformation of character or rehabilitation.

• Previous instances of fraud or false testimony in dealings with USCIS or any government agency.

• Marriage to a U.S. citizen or LPR for the primary purpose of circumventing immigration laws.

• Nature and underlying circumstances of the inadmissibility ground at issue, and the seriousness of the violation
Public safety or national security concerns
OtherAbsence of significant undesirable or negative factors.Other indicators of an applicant's bad character and undesirability as a permanent resident of this country.

Discretionary Factors

The officer must weigh the social and humanitarian considerations against the adverse factors present in the applicant’s case.  See Matter of De Lucia, 11 I&N Dec. 565 (BIA 1966). See Matter of T-S-Y-, 7 I&N Dec. 582 (BIA 1957). The approval of a waiver as a matter of discretion depends on whether the favorable factors in the applicant’s case outweigh the unfavorable ones. See Matter of Mendez-Moralez, 21 I&N Dec. 296 (BIA 1996).

Discretionary Determination

When making a discretionary determination, the officer should review the entire record and give the appropriate weight to each adverse and favorable factor.  Once the officer has weighed each factor, the officer should consider all of the factors cumulatively to determine whether the favorable factors outweigh the unfavorable ones. If the officer determines that the positive factors outweigh the negative factors, then the applicant merits a favorable exercise of discretion.

Example

A lengthy and stable marriage is generally a favorable factor in the discretionary analysis. On the other hand, the weight given to any possible hardship to the spouse that may occur upon separation may be diminished if the parties married after the commencement of removal proceedings with knowledge of an impending removal.  In particular, if a finding of extreme hardship is a statutory eligibility requirement, the finding of extreme hardship permits, but does not require, a favorable exercise of discretion. Once extreme hardship is found, extreme hardship becomes a factor that weighs in favor of granting relief as a matter of discretion.

Example

In general, when reviewing an applicant’s employment history, an officer may consider the type, length, and stability of the employment. See Matter of Mendez-Moralez, 21 I&N Dec. 296 (BIA 1996). See Ghassan v. INS, 972 F.2d 631 (5th Cir. 1992).

Example

In general, when reviewing an applicant’s history of physical presence in the United States, the officer may favorably consider residence of long duration in this country, as well as residence in the United States while the applicant was of young age. See Matter of Mendez-Moralez, 21 I&N Dec. 296 (BIA 1996).

Example

When looking at the applicant’s presence in the United States, the officer should evaluate the nature of the presence. For example, a period of residency during which the applicant was imprisoned may diminish the significance of that period of residency. See Diaz-Resendez v. INS, 960 F.2d 493 (5th Cir. 1992).

Cases Involving Violent or Dangerous Crimes

If a foreign national is inadmissible on criminal grounds involving a violent or dangerous crime, an officer may not exercise favorable discretion unless the applicant has established, in addition to the other statutory and regulatory requirements of the waiver that:

  • The case involves extraordinary circumstances; or
  • The denial would result in exceptional and extremely unusual hardship. See Douglas v. INS, 28 F.3d 241 (2nd Cir. 1994).

Extraordinary circumstances involve considerations such as national security or foreign policy interests.  Exceptional and extremely unusual hardship is substantially beyond the ordinary hardship that would be expected as a result of denial of admission, but it does not need to be so severe as to be considered unconscionable. See INA 212(h). See 8 CFR 212.7(d). See Matter of Jean, 23 I&N Dec. 373 (A.G. 2002) (relating to a waiver of inadmissibility granted in connection with INA 209(c), refugee or asylee adjustment of status).  Depending on the gravity of the underlying criminal offense, a showing of extraordinary circumstances may still be insufficient to warrant a favorable exercise of discretion. See Matter of Monreal, 23 I&N Dec. 56 (BIA 2001).

I-601 Waiver Pursuant to INA 212(h) Approved for South Korean Applicant

I-601 Waiver Pursuant to INA 212(h) Approved for South Korean Applicant

Our office received approval of the I-601 Application of Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility for a client who was subject to a lifetime ban from being admitted to the United States pursuant to  INA 212(a)(2)(A)(i)(I).  Our client was charged and convicted of misappropriating monies from the bank account of another individual in 1998, for which offense she was fined the equivalent of USD$2000, which fine she has paid. That conviction triggered the lifetime inadmissibility bar pursuant to INA 212(a)(2)(A)(i)(I) “Crimes involving moral turpitude.”

The U.S. citizen sibling petitioner contacted me after her sister was denied admission to the U.S. following her consular interview at the U.S. embassy in Seoul, South Korea.  A comprehensive waiver package was subsequently prepared by our office based on the fact that more than 15 years have passed since she was convicted of criminal offense in her home country of South Korea; the clear evidence that her admission would not be contrary to the national welfare, safety or security of the United States; and that she has been fully rehabilitated.

Legal Requirements of the § 212(h) Waiver

Section 212(h) of the Immigration and Nationality Act provides a discretionary waiver for the following criminal grounds of inadmissibility:

  • Crimes involving moral turpitude (subparagraph 212(a)(2)(A)(I))
  • Multiple criminal convictions (212(a)(2)(B))
  • Prostitution and commercial vice (212(a)(2)(D))
  • Certain aliens who have asserted immunity from prosecution (212(a)(2)(E))
  • An offense of simple possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana (212(a)(2)(A)(i)(II))

INA 212(h)(1)(A) provides that certain grounds of inadmissibility under section 212(a)(2)(A)(i)(I)-(II), (B), and (E) of the Act may be waived in the case of an alien who demonstrates to the satisfaction of the Attorney General that:

  • the activities for which she is inadmissible occurred more than fifteen years before the date of the alien’s application for a visa, admission, or adjustment of status;
  • the admission would not be contrary to the national welfare, safety, or security of the U.S.; and
  • the alien has been rehabilitated;

INA 212(h)(1)(B) provides that certain grounds of inadmissibility under section 212(a)(2)(A)(i)(I)-(II), (B), (D)-(E) of the Act may be waived in the case of an alien who:

  • has a parent, spouse, son, or daughter who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States; and
  • the parent, spouse, son, or daughter would suffer “extreme hardship” on account of the alien’s ineligibility to immigrate

Waiver applicants must also show that their application should be granted as a matter of discretion, with the favorable factors outweighing the unfavorable factors in his or her case.

In support of my client’s I-601 waiver application, I prepared a comprehensive legal brief going over how the facts and circumstances of her situation met the legal standards of INA 212(h)(1)(A).

I thoroughly demonstrated that my client was rehabilitated and her admission not contrary to the national welfare, safety, or security of the U.S., based upon her long-history as a successful small business owner; her membership and participation in various church and charitable programs; as well as her selfless dedication to the education of her children, which played an integral role in allowing her son to attend medical school after the death of his father.

I showed that following her conviction and later, after the death of her husband, she reached a profound “turning point” in her life.  She was baptized into the Christian faith and became a devout and ardent member of her church.  She committed herself to a number of charitable activities while also working tirelessly to support her children and their education.   Her conduct as well as a myriad of affidavits by friends, colleagues, and family proved that she posed absolutely no risk to the safety or welfare of the U.S., and in fact, would contribute to it if admitted as a permanent resident.

It is often important in waiver applications to demonstrate (when possible) an important turning point in an applicant’s life, which provides a marker that the USCIS officer can point to and remember has having effected a fundamental change in the applicant’s outlook and conduct.

An extensive table of exhibits also listed a variety of evidence in support of a showing of good moral character and rehabilitation.

As a result of our efforts, our client was approved for the 601 waiver and subsequently, received her lawful permanent residence to join her family in the United States.

Requests for Evidence (RFEs) Commonly Issued by USCIS on Waiver Applications

Requests for Evidence (RFEs) Commonly Issued by USCIS on Waiver Applications

I am often contacted by applicants who have received a Request for Evidence from the USCIS and are understandably concerned and unsure how to respond.

While some Requests for Evidence are procedural and relatively simple to handle (e.g. a request for a copy of a marriage certificate, birth certificate, etc.), others are more serious and accompanied by a Notice of Intent to Deny as well.  This typically occurs because the adjudicating USCIS officer believes that the applicant failed to meet the legal threshold of the waiver being applied for.

Below are Requests for Evidence commonly issued by the USCIS to waiver applicants.  Our office has successfully responded to such requests from the USCIS on behalf of our clients for the past 12+ years.  Should such a request be issued, I recommend contacting an experienced I-601 and I-212 waiver attorney and get guidance on how to proceed.  It is extremely important that such requests be carefully and fully complied with to ensure successful approval of your waiver application.

100 RFE 601- Waiver Requirements for Unlawful Presence – INA 212(a)(9)(B)(v)
You have been found inadmissible to the United States under section 212(a)(9)(B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) because you had previously been unlawfully present in the United States in excess of either 180 days, or for one year or more.

To be eligible for a waiver under section 212(a)(9)(B)(v) of the INA, you must show that:

• You have a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or parent, or a U.S. citizen fiance( e) who petitioned for your K visa, who would experience extreme hardship if you were denied admission, and
• Your application should be granted as a matter of discretion, with the favorable factors outweighing the unfavorable factors in your case.

101 RFE 601- Waiver Requirements for Criminal & Related Grounds – INA 212(h)
You have been found inadmissible to the United States under section 212(a)(2) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) because of your involvement in: [ISO inserts applicable basis for inadmissibility finding]

• A crime involving moral turpitude (other than purely political offense).
• A controlled substance violation according to the laws and regulations of any country related to a single offense of simple possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana.
• Two or more convictions, other than purely political ones, for which you received sentences of confinement amounting to 5 years or more.
• Prostitution, including having procured others for prostitution or having received the proceeds of prostitution.
• Unlawful commercialized vice whether or not related to prostitution.
• Serious criminal activity but you asserted immunity from prosecution.

This office may approve a waiver of the inadmissibility ground(s) under section 212(h) of the INA, if you can show that either:

You are only inadmissible for participation in prostitution; and

• You have been rehabilitated; and
• Your admission to the United States will not be contrary to the national welfare, safety, or security of the United States; and
• Your application should be granted as a matter of discretion, with the favorable factors outweighing the unfavorable factors in your case.

The criminal activities for which you are inadmissible occurred more than 15 years ago; and

• You have been rehabilitated; and
• Your admission to the United States will not be contrary to the national welfare, safety, or security of the United States;
• Your application should be granted as a matter of discretion, with the favorable factors outweighing the unfavorable factors in your case.

You have a qualifying relative who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States; and

• Your qualifying relative would suffer extreme hardship on account of your ineligibility to immigrate; and
• Your application should be granted as a matter of discretion, with the favorable factors outweighing the unfavorable factors in your case.

You are the fiance( e) of a K visa petitioner; and

• The K visa petitioner would suffer extreme hardship on account of your ineligibility to immigrate; and
• Your application should be granted as a matter of discretion, with the favorable factors outweighing the unfavorable factors in your case.

You are a VA WA self-petitioner

In addition to the above requirements, if an applicant has been convicted of a violent or dangerous crime, USCIS will not waive the inadmissibility as a matter of discretion unless the individual can show an extraordinary circumstance, such as:

  • One involving national security or policy considerations; or
  • If the denial of your admission would result in exceptional and extremely unusual hardship.

102 RFE 601 – Waiver Requirements for Fraud/Misrepresentation – INA 212(i)
You have been found inadmissible to the United States under section 212(a)(6)(C)(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) because you sought to procure an immigration benefit by fraud or willfully misrepresenting a material fact.

To be eligible for a waiver under section 212(i) of the INA, you must show that:

• You have a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or parent, or a U.S. citizen fiance( e) who petitioned for your K visa, who would experience extreme hardship if you were denied admission, or
• You are a VA WA self-petitioner, and that you or your U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident, or qualified parent or child would experience extreme hardship if you were denied admission; and ‘
• Your application should be granted as a matter of discretion, with the favorable factors outweighing the unfavorable factors in your case.

103 RFE 601 – Waiver Requirements for Communicable Disease – INA 212(g)(1)
You have been found inadmissible to the United States under section 212( a)(1)(A)(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) because you have a medical condition that will not allow you to enter or remain in the United States. USCIS may waive this inadmissibility ground under section 212(g)(1) of the INA as a matter of discretion after consulting with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

To be eligible for this waiver, you must show that you are one of the following:

  • The spouse, parent, unmarried son or daughter, or minor unmarried lawfully adopted child of
    • A U.S. citizen; or
    • An alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence; or
    • An alien who has been issued an immigrant visa
  • A self petitioner under the Violence Against Women Act (VA WA)
  • The fiance( e) of a U.S. citizen or the fiance(e)’s child.

104 RFE 601 – Waiver Requirements for Missing Vaccinations – INA 212(g)(2)(C)
You have been found inadmissible to the United States under section 212(a)(1)(A)(2) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) because you have not received the vaccines required for entry into the United States. USCIS may waive this inadmissibility ground under section 212(g)(2)(C) of the INA as a matter of discretion if you can establish that:

  • You are opposing vaccinations in any form (that is, you are not just opposed to one vaccine but that you oppose the practice of vaccination in general); and
  • Your objection is based on religious beliefs or your moral convictions; and
  • Your belief or conviction is sincere (that you actually live according to your belief and conviction, and that you do not just have the belief or conviction because you do not want to be vaccinated).

105VWR – Waiver Requirements for Physical or Mental Disorder- INA 212(g)(3) 

You have been found inadmissible to the United States under section 212(a)(1)(A)(iii) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) because you were determined to have a mental or physical disorder that poses or may pose a threat to the property, safety, or welfare of you or others; or because you have a history of a physical or mental disorder and a history of behavior that poses or may pose a threat to the property, safety, or welfare of you or others because the disorder is likely to reoccur.

After consultation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), USCIS may waive this inadmissibility ground under section 212(g)(3) of the INA as a matter of discretion to ensure that you have arranged for suitable health care in the United States so that your condition will no longer pose a threat to you or others.

106 RFE 601- Waiver Requirements for Membership in a Totalitarian Party – INA 212(a)(3)(D)(iv)
You have been found inadmissible to the United States under section 212(a)(3)(D) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) because you had been a member of the Communist Party or another totalitarian party (or subdivision or affiliate thereof).

To be eligible for a waiver under section 212(a)(3)(D)(iv) of the INA, you must show that:

  • You are:
    • A parent, spouse, son, daughter, brother, or sister of a citizen of the United States, or
    • A spouse, son, or daughter of a lawful permanent resident of the United States; and
  • Your application should be granted to serve humanitarian purposes, to assure family unity, or because it is otherwise in the public interest; and
  • You are not a threat to the security of the United States; and
  • Your application should be granted as a matter of discretion, with the favorable factors outweighing the unfavorable factors in your case.

107 RFE 601 – Waiver Requirements for Smuggling-INA 212(d)(11)
You have been found inadmissible to the United States under section 212(a)(6)(E) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) because you had engaged in alien smuggling.

To be eligible for a waiver under section 212(d)(11) of the INA, you must show that:

  • You are:
    • An alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence who temporarily proceeded abroad voluntarily and not under an order of removal, and are otherwise admissible to the United States as a returning resident under section 211(b) of the INA, or
    • Seeking admission or adjustment of status as an immediate relative under section INA 201(b)(2)(A) or as an immigrant under section 203(a) of the INA (first, second, and third family-based preference, but not fourth preference) or as the fiance(e) (or child of the fiance(e))’of a U.S citizen; and
    • You have encouraged, induced, assisted, abetted, or aided only an individual who at the time of such action was your spouse, parent, son, or daughter (and no other individual) to enter the United States in violation of the law; and
    • Your application should be granted to serve humanitarian purposes, to assure family unity, or because it is otherwise in the public interest; and

Your application should be granted as a matter of discretion, with the favorable factors outweighing the unfavorable factors in your case.

108 RFE 601- Waiver Requirements for Subject of Civil Penalty- INA 212(d)(12)
You have been found inadmissible to the United States under section 212(a)(6)(F) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) because you have been the subject of a final order for violation of section 274C of the INA (Document Fraud).

To be eligible for a waiver under section 212(d)(12) of the INA, you must show that:

  • You are
    • An alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence who temporarily proceeded abroad voluntarily and not under an order of deportation or removal and who is otherwise admissible to the United States as a returning resident under section 211(b) of the INA, or
    • Seeking admission or adjustment of status as an immediate relative under section 201(b)(2)(A) of the INA or as an immigrant under section 203(a) of the INA (first, second, and third family-based preference, but not fourth preference) or as the fiance(e) (or child of the fiance(e)) of a U.S. citizen; and
    • This is the only civil money penalty order against you under INA 274C; and
    • You committed the offense only to assist, aid, or support your spouse or child (and not another individual); and
    • Your application should be granted to serve humanitarian purposes, to assure family unity, or because it is otherwise in the public interest; and

Your application should be granted as a matter of discretion, with the favorable factors outweighing the unfavorable factors in your case.

109 RFE 601 – Applicant Previously Removed – INA 212(a)(9)(A)(iii)
The record indicates that in addition to the inadmissibility ground for which you have filed Form I-601, you are also inadmissible under section 212(a)(9)(A) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) due to a previous removal or deportation.

An individual who is inadmissible under section 212(a)(9)(A) of the INA may file an Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission to the United States After Deportation or Removal (Form I-212).

Your application is missing evidence that you have filed Form I-212 with USCIS. Please submit a USCIS receipt notice for Form I-212 as evidence that you have filed the required application.

110 RFE 601-No Evidence of Visa Refusal or Pending I-485/I-821
An individual who is outside the United States may file Form I-601 if he or she has been found inadmissible by a U.S. Consular Officer after having applied for an immigrant visa or a nonimmigrant K or V visa.

An individual who is inside the United States may file Form I-601 along with an Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (Form I-485) or an Application for Temporary Protected Status (Form I-821 ), or while the Form I-485 or Form I-821 is pending.

Your application is missing evidence that your waiver application is based on either:

  • An immigrant visa application (or nonimmigrant K or V visa application) filed with the Department of State (DOS), for which you were found ineligible due to an inadmissibility ground; or
  • A pending Form I-485 or Form I-821.

Please provide the following evidence to support your application:

  • If you are outside the United States, submit evidence that you have a pending immigrant visa application (or nonimmigrant K or V visa application), such as a copy of a DOS notice identifying your Consular Case Number.
  • If you are inside the United States and have a pending Form I-485 or Form I-821, submit evidence that you have a pending application, such as a copy of your USCIS receipt notice (Form I-797).

[Read more…]

I-601 Waiver Approved for U.S. Military Spouse Inadmissible due to Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude

I-601 Waiver Approved for U.S. Military Spouse Inadmissible due to Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude

Our office received approval of the I-601 Application of Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility for the foreign wife of a member of the U.S. Armed Forces  who is subject to a life-time bar from being admitted to the United States for convictions of two separate crimes involving moral turpitude under INA Section 212(a)(2)(A)(i)(I).  The foreign wife was also convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol in a separate incident.

The U.S. citizen husband is an active member of the U.S. Armed Forces, works on base in the United States, and became separated from his foreign wife and U.S. citizen son after a finding of inadmissibility by the US embassy during his wife’s immigrant visa consular interview.

He contacted our office due to our 14+ year history of securing approval of I-601 and I-212 immigrant waivers in sensitive and critical situations such as this one.

Section 212(a)(2)(A) of the Act states, in pertinent parts:

(i) Any alien convicted of, or who admits having committed, or who admits committing acts which constitute the essential elements of-

(I) a crime involving moral turpitude (other than a purely political offense) or an attempt or conspiracy to commit such a crime . . . is inadmissible.

(ii) Exception.-Clause (i)(I) shall not apply to an alien who committed only one crime if-

(I) the crime was committed when the alien was under 18 years of age, and the crime was committed (and the alien was released from any confinement to a prison or correctional institution imposed for the crime) more than 5 years before the date of the application for a visa or other documentation and the date of application for admission to the United States, or

(II) the maximum penalty possible for the crime of which the alien was convicted (or which the alien admits having committed or of which the acts that the alien admits having committed constituted the essential elements) did not exceed imprisonment for one year and, if the alien was convicted of such crime, the alien was not sentenced to a term of imprisonment in excess of 6 months (regardless of the extent to which the sentence was ultimately executed).

The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) held in Matter of Perez-Contreras, 20 I&N Dec. 615, 617-18 (BIA 1992), that:

[M]oral turpitude is a nebulous concept, which refers generally to conduct that shocks the public conscience as being inherently base, vile, or depraved, contrary to the rules of morality and the duties owed between man and man, either one’s fellow man or society in general.. ..In determining whether a crime involves moral turpitude, we consider whether the act is accompanied by a vicious motive or corrupt mind. Where knowing or intentional conduct is an element of an offense, we have found moral turpitude to be present. However, where the required mens rea may not be determined from the statute, moral turpitude does not inhere.

Section 212(h) of the Act provides, in pertinent part, that:

(h) Waiver of subsection (a)(2)(A)(i)(I), (II), (B), (D), and (E).-The Attorney General [now the Secretary of Homeland Security, “Secretary”] may, in [her] discretion, waive the application of subparagraphs (A)(i)(I) … of subsection (a)(2) if-

(B) in the case of,an immigrant who is the spouse, parent, son, or daughter of a citizen of the United States or an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence if it established to the satisfaction of the [Secretary] that the alien’s denial of admission would result in extreme hardship to the United States citizen or lawfully resident spouse, parent, son, or daughter of such alien.

(2) the [Secretary], in [her] discretion, and pursuant to such terms, conditions and procedures as [she] may by regulations prescribe, has consented to the alien’s applying or reapplying for a visa, for admission to the United States, or adjustment of status.

Extreme hardship is “not a definable term of fixed and inflexible content or meaning,” but “necessarily depends upon the facts and circumstances peculiar to each case.” Matter of Hwang, 10 I&N Dec. 448, 451 (BIA 1964). In Matter of Cervantes-Gonzalez, the Board provided a list of factors it deemed relevant in determining whether an alien has established extreme hardship to a qualifying relative. 22 I&N Dec. 560, 565 (BIA 1999). The factors include the presence of a lawful permanent resident or United States citizen spouse or parent in this country; the qualifying relative’s family ties outside the United States; the conditions in the country or countries to which the qualifying relative would relocate and the extent of the qualifying relative’s ties in such countries; the financial impact of departure from this country; and significant conditions of health, particularly when tied to an unavailability of suitable medical care in the country to which the qualifying relative would relocate. Id. The Board added that not all of the foregoing factors need be analyzed in any given case and emphasized that the list of factors was not exclusive. Id . at 566.

The Board has also held that the common or typical results of removal and inadmissibility do not constitute extreme hardship, and has listed certain individual hardship factors considered common rather than extreme. These factors include: economic disadvantage, loss of current employment, inability to maintain one’s present standard of living, inability to pursue a chosen profession, separation from family members, severing community ties, cultural readjustment after living in the United States for many years, cultural adjustment of qualifying relatives who have never lived outside the United States, inferior economic and educational opportunities in the foreign country, or inferior medical facilities in the foreign country. See generally Matter of Cervantes-Gonzalez, 22 I&N Dec. at 568; Matter of Pilch, 21 I&N Dec. 627, 632-33 (BIA 1996); Matter of Ige, 20 I&N Dec. 880, 883 (BIA 1994);Matter of Ngai, 19 I&N Dec. 245, 246-47 (Comm’r 1984); Matter of Kim, 15 I&N Dec. 88, 89-90 (BIA 1974); Matter of Shaughnessy, 12 I&N Dec. 810, 813 (BIA 1968).

However, though hardships may not be extreme when considered abstractly or individually, the Board has made it clear that “[r]elevant factors, though not extreme in themselves, must be considered in the aggregate in determining whether extreme hardship exists.” Matter of 0-J-0-, 21 I&N Dec. 381, 383 (BIA 1996) (quoting Matter of Ige, 20 I&N Dec. at 882). The adjudicator “must consider the entire range of factors concerning hardship in their totality and determine whether the combination of hardships takes the case beyond those hardships ordinarily associated with deportation.” Id.

The actual hardship associated with an abstract hardship factor such as family separation, economic disadvantage, cultural readjustment, et cetera, differs in nature and severity depending on the unique circumstances of each case, as does the cumulative hardship a qualifying relative experiences as a result of aggregated individual hardships. See, e.g.,, 23 I&N Dec. 45, 51 (BIA 2001) (distinguishing Matter of Pilch regarding hardship faced by qualifying relatives on the basis of variations in the length of residence in the United States and the ability to speak the language of the country to which they would relocate).

For example, though family separation has been found to be a common result of inadmissibility or removal, separation from family living in the United States can also be the most important single hardship factor in considering hardship in the aggregate. Salcido-Salcido v. INS, 138 F.3d 1292, 1293 (9th Cir. 1998) (quoting Contreras-Buenfil v. INS, 712 F.2d 401, 403 (9th Cir. 1983)); but see Matter of Ngai, 19 I&N Dec. at 24 7 (separation of spouse and children from applicant not extreme hardship due to conflicting evidence in the record and because applicant and spouse had been voluntarily separated from one another for 28 years).

Therefore, the AAO considers the totality of the circumstances in determining whether denial of admission would result in extreme hardship to a qualifying relative.

Immediately after this case was opened, we initiated our immigrant waiver preparation process.

We always provide a comprehensive waiver worksheet containing a thorough array of questions for our clients to answer about their lives.  This allows us to “brainstorm” every relevant factor (such as medical, physical, psychological, financial, legal, or other hardships) that may apply. We then analyze each factor and decide upon the most effective way to present it to the USCIS in our waiver application.

Our waiver worksheet also contains a long checklist of supporting documents to gather and present based upon our experience with successful waiver applications submitted during the past 12+ years.

Overall, our waiver preparation process is constantly improved upon since we regularly prepare and submit winning immigrant waiver applications for clients who come from countries throughout the word.  We are proud to receive multiple approvals on I-601, I-601A, I-212, and 212(d)(3) waiver applications filed on behalf of our clients every single month.

The favorable factors we highlighted in this I-601 Waiver case includes the following:

  • the U.S. citizen husband is a member of the U.S. Armed Forces who works on the maintenance and operation of sophisticated military vehicles.  In my experience, spouses and immediate relatives of members of the U.S. Armed Forces are generally given preference on their waiver applications.  However, it is still important to discuss the duties carried out by the member of the U.S. Armed Forces; their role in the defense of the interests of the United States; as well as how their ability to carry out their duties is impacted by the immigration-related consequences of separation (or re-location).
  • the U.S. citizen husband suffers from mood disorders and physical ailments that are documented to be worsening as a result of separation from his foreign wife and U.S. citizen son.  He is a victim of verbal and physical abuse from childhood, and carries the emotional scars from the prior abuse to this day.
  • the U.S. citizen husband helps to care for his elderly mother, who is also victim of past domestic abuse.  It would be emotionally traumatic to force him to choose between life with his family abroad at the cost of abandoning his mother who needs her son nearby.
  • the U.S. citizen husband is attempting to pay for two homes during this separation with his wife and son.  The expenses involved in doing this (combined with travel to a foreign country to visit his family) is outstripping his income and causing severe financial hardship.
  • the U.S. citizen husband does not know the native language of his wife’s country of origin, would face difficulty obtaining appropriate psychological treatment in English there, and would have to resign from the U.S. military to re-locate abroad to be with his family.  Being forced to resign from life-long service to the U.S. Armed Forces would aggravate his precious psychological state and worsen every aspect of his life.

Due to our efforts on behalf of this family, the I-601 Waiver application was approved and this family can soon reside together in the United States.  The U.S. citizen husband can also continue his service to the United States Armed Forces and play an integral role in safe-guarding the lives of his fellow servicemen.

USCIS Draft Guidance on Adjudication of Extreme Hardship Waivers

USCIS Issues Draft Guidance on Adjudication of Extreme Hardship Waivers

Selected USCIS draft guidance concerning the adjudication of applications for those discretionary waivers of inadmissibility that require showings of “extreme hardship” to certain U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR) family members of the applicant follows below.

Admissibility is generally a requirement for admission to the United States, adjustment of status, and other immigration benefits.  Several provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), however, authorize discretionary waivers of particular inadmissibility grounds for those who demonstrate “extreme hardship” to specified U.S. citizen or LPR family members (referred to here as “qualifying relatives”).

Each of these provisions conditions a waiver on both a finding of extreme hardship to a qualifying relative and the more general favorable exercise of discretion.  All of these waiver applications are adjudicated by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (and in some cases by the Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review).

The various statutory provisions specify different sets of qualifying relatives and permit waivers of different inadmissibility grounds. They include:

  • INA 212(a)(9)(B)(v) – This provision can waive the three-year and ten-year inadmissibility bars for unlawful presence.  Eligible qualifying relatives include the applicant’s U.S. citizen or LPR spouse or parent.
  • INA 212(h)(1)(B) – This provision can waive inadmissibility for crimes involving moral turpitude, multiple criminal convictions, prostitution and commercialized vice, and certain serious criminal offenses for which the foreign national received immunity from prosecution.  It can also waive inadmissibility for controlled substance convictions, but only when the conviction was for a single offense of simple possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana. Eligible qualifying relatives include the applicant’s U.S. citizen or LPR spouse, parent, son, or daughter.
  • INA 212(i)(1) – This provision can waive inadmissibility for certain types of immigration fraud. Eligible qualifying relatives include the applicant’s U.S. citizen or LPR spouse or parent.

Common Consequences of Inadmissibility

Common consequences of an applicant’s refusal of admission, in and of themselves, do not warrant a finding of extreme hardship. The BIA has held that these common consequences include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Family separation;
  • Economic detriment;
  • Difficulties of readjusting to life in the new country;
  • The quality and availability of educational opportunities abroad;
  • Inferior quality of medical services and facilities; and
  • Ability to pursue a chosen employment abroad.

Even though these common consequences alone would be an insufficient basis for a finding of extreme hardship, they are still factors that must be considered when aggregating the total hardships to the qualifying relative.

When combined with other factors that might also have been insufficient when taken alone, even these common consequences might cause the sum of the hardships to reach the “extreme hardship” standard.

For example, if a qualifying relative is gravely ill, elderly, or incapable of caring for himself or herself, the combination of that hardship and the common consequences of a refusal of the applicant’s admission might well cause extreme emotional or financial hardship for the qualifying relative.

Examples of Factors that Might Support Finding of Extreme Hardship

FactorsConsiderations
Family Ties and ImpactPresence of qualifying relative’s ties to family members living
in the United States, including age, status, and length of
residence of any children
Responsibility for the care of any family members in the
United States, in particular children and elderly or disabled
adults
Presence or absence of qualifying relative’s ties outside of the
United States, including to family members living abroad and
how close the qualifying relative is to these family members
Nature of relationship between the applicant and the
qualifying relative, including any facts about the particular
relationship that would either aggravate or lessen the
hardship resulting from separation
Qualifying relative’s age
Length of qualifying relative’s residence in the United States
Length of qualifying relative’s prior residence in the country of relocation, if any
Military service of qualifying relative, where the stresses and
other demands of such service aggravate the hardship
ordinarily resulting from family separation
Impact on the cognitive, social, or emotional well-being of a
qualifying relative who is left to replace the applicant as
caregiver for someone else, or impact on the qualifying
relative (for example, child or parent) for whom such care is
required
Social and Cultural ImpactLoss of access to the U.S. courts and the criminal justice
system, including the loss of opportunity to request criminal
investigations or prosecutions, initiate family law proceedings,
or obtain court orders regarding protection, child support,
maintenance, child custody, or visitation
Fear of persecution
Existence of laws and social practices in home country that
punish the qualifying relative because he or she has been in
the United States or is perceived to have Western values
Access or lack of access to social institutions and structures
(official and unofficial) for support, guidance, or protection
Social ostracism or stigma based on characteristics such as
gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, race,
national origin, ethnicity, citizenship, age, political opinion, or
disability
Qualifying relative’s community ties in the United States and
in the country of relocation
Extent to which the qualifying relative has assimilated to U.S.
culture, including language, skills, and acculturation
Difficulty and expense of travel/communication to maintain
ties between qualifying relative and applicant, if the qualifying
relative does not relocate
Qualifying relative’s present inability to communicate in the
language of the country of relocation, taking into account the
time and difficulty that learning that language would entail
Availability and quality of educational opportunities for
qualifying relative (and children, if any) in country of
relocation
Economic ImpactFinancial impact of applicant’s departure on the qualifying
relative(s), including the applicant’s or the qualifying relative’s
ability to obtain employment in the country to which the
applicant would be returned and how that would impact the
qualifying relative
Qualifying relative’s need to be educated in a foreign
language or culture
Economic and financial loss due to the sale of a home or
business
Economic and financial loss due to termination of a
professional practice
Decline in the standard of living, including high levels of
unemployment, underemployment, and lack of economic
opportunity in country of nationality
Ability to recoup losses
Cost of extraordinary needs such as special education or
training for children
Cost of care for family members, including children and
elderly, sick, or disabled parents
Health Conditions
& Care
Significant health conditions and impact on the qualifying
relative, particularly when tied to unavailability of suitable
medical care in the country or countries to which the
applicant might relocate
Health conditions of the applicant’s qualifying relative and the
availability and quality of any required medical treatment in
the country to which the applicant would be returned,
including length and cost of treatment
Psychological impact on the qualifying relative due to either
separation from the applicant or departure from the United
States, including separation from other family members living
in the United States
Psychological impact on the qualifying relative due to the
suffering of the applicant, taking into account the nature of
the relationship and any other relevant factors
Country ConditionsConditions in the country or countries to which the applicant
would relocate, including civil unrest or generalized levels of
violence, ability of country to address crime/high rates of
murder/other violent crime, environmental catastrophes like
flooding or earthquakes, and other socio-economic or political
conditions that jeopardize safe repatriation or lead to
reasonable fear of physical harm
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation
Danger Pay for U.S. citizens stationed in the country of
nationality
Withdrawal of Peace Corps from the country of nationality for
security reasons
DOS Travel Warnings issued for the country of nationality

Special Circumstances that Strongly Suggest Extreme Hardship

The preceding list identifies factors that bear generally on whether a refusal of admission would result in extreme hardship to one or more qualifying relatives.

USCIS has also determined that the circumstances below would often weigh heavily in favor of finding extreme hardship. These sorts of special circumstances are beyond the qualifying relative’s control and ordinarily cause suffering or harm greater than the common consequences of separation or relocation.

An applicant who is relying on one or more of these special circumstances must submit sufficient evidence that such circumstances exist. As always, even when these or other special circumstances are present, the ultimate determination of extreme hardship is based on the totality of the circumstances in the individual case.

It must be emphasized that the special circumstances listed below are singled out only because they are especially likely to result in findings of extreme hardship. Many other hardships will also be extreme, even if they are very different from, or less severe than, those listed below. Further, even the factors discussed are not exclusive; they are merely examples of factors that can support findings of extreme hardship, depending on the totality of the evidence in the particular case. Other factors not not discussed could support a finding of extreme hardship, under a totality of the circumstances.

Eligibility for an immigration benefit ordinarily must exist at the time of filing and at the time of adjudication. Given the underlying purpose of considering special circumstances, a special circumstance does not need to exist at the time of filing the waiver request. As long as the qualifying relative was related to the applicant at the time of filing, a special circumstance arising after the filing of the waiver request also would often weigh heavily in favor of finding extreme hardship.

1. Qualifying Relative Previously Granted Asylum or Refugee Status

If a qualifying relative was previously granted asylum or refugee status in the United States from the country of relocation and the qualifying relative’s status has not been revoked, those factors would often weigh heavily in favor of a finding that relocation would result in extreme hardship.

As the family member of a foreign national who has been granted asylum or refugee status, the applicant might also face dangers similar to those that gave rise to the qualifying relative’s grant of asylum or refugee status. In such a case, the qualifying relative could suffer psychological trauma in knowing the potential for harm if the applicant returns to the country of nationality, particularly if the qualifying relative fears returning to that country even to visit the applicant, and could thereby suffer extreme hardship.

2. Qualifying Relative or Related Family Member’s Disability

If the Social Security Administration or other qualified U.S. Government agency made a formal disability determination for the qualifying relative, the qualifying relative’s spouse, or a member of the qualifying relative’s household for whom the qualifying relative is legally responsible, that factor would often weigh heavily in favor of a finding that relocation would result in extreme hardship.

Absent a formal disability determination, an applicant may provide other evidence that a qualifying relative or related family member suffers from a medical or physical condition that makes either travel to, or residence in, the relocation country detrimental to the qualifying relative or family member’s health or safety.

In cases where the qualifying relative or related family member requires the applicant’s assistance for care because of the medical or physical condition, that factor would often weigh heavily in favor of a finding that separation would result in extreme hardship to the qualifying relative.

3. Qualifying Relative’s Active Duty Military Service

If the qualifying relative (who might be a spouse or other qualifying relative) is on active duty with any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, relocation will generally be unrealistic, because the qualifying relative ordinarily will not be at liberty to relocate.

If the applicant and the qualifying relative have been living together – for example, on a military base that accommodates families or in a private facility off base – the removal of the applicant can therefore create separation. Under those circumstances, the qualifying relative might well suffer psychological and emotional harm associated with the separation.

The resulting impairment of his or her ability to serve the U.S. military could exacerbate that hardship. In addition, even if the qualifying relative’s military service already separates him or her from the applicant, the applicant’s removal overseas might magnify the stress of military service to a level that would constitute extreme hardship.

4. DOS Warnings Against Travel to or Residence in Certain Countries

DOS issues travel warnings to notify travelers of the risks of traveling to a foreign country. Reasons for issuing a travel warning include, but are not limited to, unstable government, civil war, ongoing intense crime or violence, or frequent terrorist attacks. Travel warnings remain in place until the situation changes. In some of these warnings, DOS advises of travel risks to a specific region or specific regions of a country.

In other travel warnings, DOS does more than merely notify travelers of the risks; it affirmatively recommends against travel or residence and makes its recommendation countrywide.

These travel warnings might contain language in which:

  • DOS urges avoiding all travel to the country because of safety and security concerns;
  • DOS warns against all but essential travel to the country;
  • DOS advises deferring all non-essential travel to the country; and/or
  • DOS advises U.S. citizens currently living in the country to depart.

Generally, the fact that a qualifying relative who is likely to relocate would face significantly increased danger in the country of relocation would often weigh heavily in favor of a finding of extreme hardship. If the country of relocation is currently subject to a DOS country-wide travel exists and, therefore, that relocation would result in extreme hardship.

If the travel warning covers only part of the country of relocation, but the officer finds that that part is one to which the qualifying relative plans to return despite the increased danger (for example, because of family relationships or employment opportunities), then that fact would similarly tend to weigh heavily in favor of finding that relocation would result in extreme hardship.

Alternatively, if it is more likely than not that the qualifying relative would relocate in a part of the country that is not subject to the travel warning (either because of the danger in the area covered by the travel warning or for any other reason), the officer should evaluate whether relocation in the chosen area would itself result in extreme hardship to that qualifying relative.

Conversely, if the applicant were to return to this particular country but the qualifying relative would be more likely than not to remain in the United States, the separation might well result in psychological trauma for the qualifying relative.

5. Substantial Displacement of Care of Applicant’s Children

USCIS recognizes the importance of family unity and the ability of parents and other caregivers to provide for the well-being of children. Moreover, depending on the particular facts, either the need to assume someone else’s care-giving duties or the continuation of one’s existing care-giving duties under new and difficult circumstances can be sufficiently burdensome to rise to the level of extreme hardship for the caregiver. The children do not need to be U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents for that to be the case.

At least two different scenarios can occur.

In one scenario, the primary or sole breadwinner is refused admission, and the caregiver, who is a qualifying relative, remains behind to continue the caregiving. The fact that the breadwinner’s refusal of admission would cause economic loss to the caregiver is not by itself sufficient for extreme hardship. Economic loss is a common consequence of a refusal of admission.

But, depending on the facts of the particular case, economic loss can create other burdens that in turn are severe enough to amount to extreme hardship. For example, if the qualifying relative must now take on the combined burdens of breadwinner and ensuring continuing care of the children, and that dual responsibility would threaten the qualifying relative’s ability to meet his or her own basic subsistence needs or those of the person(s) for whom the care is being provided, that dual burden would tend to weigh heavily in favor of finding extreme hardship. In addition, depending on the particular circumstances, the qualifying relative may suffer significant emotional and psychological impacts from being the sole caregiver of the child(ren) that exceed the common consequences of being left as a sole parent.

If the refusal of admission would result in a substantial shift of care-giving responsibility from the applicant to a qualifying relative, and that shift would disrupt family, social, and cultural ties, or hinder the child(ren)’s psychological, cognitive, or emotional development, or otherwise frustrate or complicate the qualifying relative’s efforts to provide a healthy, stable, and caring environment for the child(ren), the additional psychological and economic stress for the qualifying relative could exceed the levels of hardship that ordinarily result from family separation – depending, again, on the totality of the evidence presented. If that is found to be the case, such a consequence would tend to weigh heavily in favor of a finding of extreme hardship to the qualifying relative, provided the applicant shows:

  • The existence of a bona fide parental or other care-giving relationship between the applicant and the child(ren);
  • The existence of a bona fide relationship between the qualifying relative and the child(ren); and
  • The qualifying relative would become the primary caretaker for the child(ren) or otherwise would take on significant parental or other care-giving responsibilities.

To prove a bona fide relationship to the child(ren), the applicant and qualifying relative should have emotional and/or financial ties or a genuine concern and interest for the child(ren)’s support, instruction, and general welfare. Evidence that can establish such a relationship includes:

  • Income tax returns;
  • Medical or insurance records;
  • School records;
  • Correspondence between the parties; or
  • Affidavits of friends, neighbors, school officials, or other associates knowledgeable about the relationship.

To prove the qualifying relative either would become the primary caretaker for the child(ren) or relative needs to show an intent to assume those responsibilities. Evidence of such an intent could include:

  • Legal custody or guardianship of the child, such as a court order;
  • Other legal obligation to take over parental responsibilities;
  • Affidavit signed by qualifying relative to take over parental or other care-giving responsibilities; or
  • Affidavits of friends, neighbors, school officials, or other associates knowledgeable about the qualifying relative’s relationship with the children or intentions to assume parental or other care-giving responsibilities.would otherwise take on significant parental or other care-giving responsibilities, the qualifying relative’s relationship with the children or intentions to assume parental or other care-giving responsibilities.

Hypothetical Case Examples

Scenario #1: AB has lived continuously in the United States since entering without inspection 7 years ago. He and his U.S. citizen wife have been married for 4 years. If AB is refused admission, it is reasonably foreseeable that his wife would relocate with him. His wife is a sales clerk. A similar job in the country of relocation would pay far less. In addition, she does not speak the language of the relocation country, lacks experience in the country, and lacks the ties that would facilitate social and cultural integration and opportunities for employment. AB himself is an unskilled laborer who similarly would command a much lower salary in the country of relocation. The couple has no children.

Analysis: These facts alone generally would not favor a finding of extreme hardship. The hardships to the qualifying relative, even when aggregated, include only common consequences of relocation – economic loss and the social and cultural difficulties arising mainly from her inability to speak the language.

Scenario #2: The facts are the same as in Scenario # 1 except that now the couple has a 9-year old U.S. citizen daughter who would relocate with them if AB is refused admission. The child was born in the United States and has lived here her entire life. AB’s wife and daughter both have close relationships with AB’s wife’s U.S. citizen sister and brother-in-law, who are the child’s aunt and uncle, and this couple’s U.S. citizen children, who are the child’s cousins, as well as other members of the family. They all live in close proximity with one another, have close emotional bonds, and visit each other frequently, and the aunt and uncle help care for the child. Neither AB’s wife’s family nor (for this particular waiver) the child are qualifying relatives, but AB’s wife, who is a qualifying relative, would suffer significant emotional hardship from seeing the suffering of both her young child and her sister’s family (the child’s aunt, uncle and cousins), all separated from one another, as well as separated from other family members, and from losing the emotional bonds she and her child have with her sister’s family and other family members, and financial benefit she receives from the care that her sister and brother-in-law provide. In addition, the child (like her mother) does not speak the language of the relocation country.

Analysis: Depending on the totality of the evidence, these additional facts would generally support a finding of extreme hardship. The aggregate hardships to the U.S. citizen wife now include not only the economic losses, diminution of professional opportunities, and social, cultural, and linguistic difficulties – all common consequences – but also the extra emotional hardship she would experience as a result of seeing the suffering of her young child and also her sister and the sister’s family, and other members of the family because of the additional separation, the child’s inability to speak the language, as well as loss of emotional bonds between all these family members and financial benefit from their contribution to the care of the child. That is the case even though neither the child nor the aunt, uncle and cousins, or family members are qualifying relatives for the particular waiver, because their suffering will in turn cause significant emotional suffering for the U.S. citizen wife, who is a qualifying relative. Note that even though the common consequences are not alone sufficient to constitute extreme hardship, they must be added to the other hardships to determine whether the totality adds up to extreme hardship.

Scenario #3: Again the facts are the same as in Scenario # 1, except this time AB himself has LPR parents who live in the United States and who would suffer significant emotional hardship as a result of separation from their son and their daughter-in-law, with whom they have close family relationships.

Analysis: Depending on the totality of the evidence, the addition of these facts would generally favor a finding of extreme hardship. There are now 3 qualifying relatives – AB’s wife and both his parents. Although the aggregated hardships to AB’s wife alone (under Scenario # 1) include only the common consequences of a refusal of admission, further aggregating them with the emotional hardships suffered by the two LPR parents would generally tip the balance in favor of a finding of extreme hardship, depending, again, on the totality of the evidence.

Scenario #4: CD has lived continuously in the United States since entering without inspection 4 years ago. She has been married to her U.S. citizen husband for 2 years. It is reasonably foreseeable that he would choose to remain in the United States in the event she is refused admission. He has a moderate income, and she works as a housecleaner for low wages. Upon separating they would suffer substantial economic detriment; in addition to the loss of her income, he is committed to sending her remittances once she leaves, in whatever amounts he can afford. They have no children, and there are no extended family members in the United States.

Analysis: These facts alone generally would not favor a finding of extreme hardship. The qualifying relative, and the hardships to him, even when aggregated, include only common consequences – separation from his spouse and economic loss.

Scenario #5: EF and GH, a married couple from Taiwan, entered the United States on student visas 19 and 17 years ago, respectively. They overstayed their visas and have lived here ever since. They have five U.S. citizen children, all of whom were born in the United States and have lived here their entire lives. In the event that the parents are removed to Taiwan, it is reasonably foreseeable that the children would relocate with them. The children range in age from 6 to 15 and are fully integrated into the American lifestyle. None of the children are fluent in Chinese, and they would have to attend Chinese language public schools if they relocate because the family would not be able to afford private school. The 15-year-old child in particular would experience significant disruption to her education in light of her current age and her inability to speak or understand Chinese. The family of seven would be able to afford only a one-bedroom apartment upon relocation.

Analysis: This is the fact situation of Matter of Kao, 23 I. & N. Dec. 45 (BIA en banc 2001). The Board in that case, sitting en banc, held that these facts constitute extreme hardship for the 15-year-old daughter, who was one of the qualifying relatives. The Board therefore did not need to decide whether the other qualifying individuals would also suffer extreme hardship upon relocation. A key factor in that decision was the daughter’s age. In addition to the common consequences (integration into the American lifestyle, current inability to speak the language of the country of relocation, lesser educational opportunities, and economic loss), the Board found that because of her age and the time it would take to become fluent in the language of the country of relocation, the daughter’s education would be significantly disrupted and she would experience extreme hardship as a result.

Scenario #6: KL has lived continuously in the United States since entering without inspection six years ago. She married a U.S. citizen four years ago and seeks a waiver of the 10-year inadmissibility bar for unlawful presence based on extreme hardship to her husband. If she is refused, she would be removed to a country for which the U.S. State Department has issued travel warnings for specific regions, including the region where her family lives. It is reasonably foreseeable that her husband would relocate with her, and that because of the danger they would relocate in one of the areas for which no travel warnings have been issued. Unemployment throughout the country is extremely high, however, and without the family connections that they would forfeit by living outside the region of their family’s residence, the job prospects for both spouses are dim and their basic subsistence needs would be threatened.

Analysis: The fact that parts of the country of relocation are dangerous does not, by itself, constitute extreme hardship. Similarly, economic loss alone is not extreme hardship. But economic detriment that is severe enough to threaten a person’s basic subsistence can rise to the level of extreme hardship. Therefore, if the dangers in parts of the relocation country would induce the qualifying relative to relocate in other parts of the country where economic subsistence would be threatened (or if relocation in such parts is reasonably foreseeable for any other reason), the resulting economic distress would generally favor a finding of extreme hardship, depending on the totality of the evidence. Conversely, if it were reasonably foreseeable that because of the economic realities the qualifying relative, despite the danger, would relocate in a region for which travel warnings have been issued, then that danger would weigh heavily in favor of finding extreme hardship.