Client Approval: I-601 Waiver for Prostitution Approved for K-1 Fiancée at U.S. Embassy Bangkok

Client Approval: I-601 Waiver for Prostitution Approved for K-1 Fiancée at U.S. Embassy Bangkok

Our office received approval of the I-601 Waiver (Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility) for the Thai fiancée of a U.S. citizen that we expeditiously prepared and submitted on behalf of the couple.

The Thai fiancée was found inadmissible to the United States after being charged with engaging in prostitution during her K-1 fiancée visa consular interview (despite not having any such criminal conviction on her formal record).  The U.S. embassy in Bangkok, Thailand is well-known for engaging in rigorous consular interviews – conducting both procedural (checking a computerized database) and investigative checks on its applicants, and vigorously charging applicants with inadmissibility if they suspect certain types of conduct.

The U.S. citizen fiancée contacted my office after his Thai fiancée was charged with having engaged in prostitution in the past and deemed inadmissible to the United States pursuant to INA Section 212(a)(2)(D).

Section 212(a)(2)(D) of the Immigration and Nationality Act states:

(D) Prostitution and commercialized vice.-Any alien who-

(i) is coming to the United States solely, principally, or incidentally to engage in prostitution, or has engaged in prostitution within 10 years of the date of application for a visa, admission, or adjustment of status,

(ii) directly or indirectly procures or attempts to procure, or (within 10 years of the date of application for a visa, admission, or adjustment of status) procured or attempted to procure or to import, prostitutes or persons for the purpose of prostitution, or receives or (within such 10- year period) received, in whole or in part, the proceeds of prostitution, or

(iii) is coming to the United States to engage in any other unlawful commercialized vice, whether or not related to prostitution, is inadmissible.

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))

The Attorney General may waive the grounds of inadmissibility under section 212(a)(2)(D)(i)-(ii) of the Act with regard to prostitution if the alien establishes to the satisfaction of the Attorney General that the alien’s admission would not be contrary to the national welfare, safety, or security of the U.S., and that the alien has been rehabilitated. INA 212(h)(1)(A).

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 demonstrates that this removal from the United States would result in extreme hardship to his United States citizen or lawful resident parent, spouse, son, or daughter.

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, 22 I&N Dec. 560, 565-66 (BIA 1999), the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) provided a list of factors it deemed relevant in determining whether an alien has established extreme hardship to a qualifying relative.  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.

The Board of Immigration Appeals has also made it clear that although hardships may not be extreme when considered abstractly or individually,  “relevant factors, though not extreme in themselves, must be considered in the aggregate in determining whether extreme hardship exists.” Matter of O-J-O, 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.”

The Board of Immigration Appeals has also held that hardship factors such as family separation, economic disadvantage, cultural readjustment, et cetera, differ 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).

As an example, the Board of Immigration Appeals has found family separation, a common result of inadmissibility or removal, can also be the most important single hardship factor in considering hardship in the aggregate. See Salcido-Salcido, 138 F.3d at 1293 (quoting Contreras-Buenfil v. INS, 712 F.2d 401, 403 (9th Cir. 1983; but see Matter of Ngai, 19 I&N Dec. at 247 (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).

In support of my client’s I-601 waiver, I prepared a comprehensive legal brief going over how the facts and circumstances of my clients’ situation met the legal standards used to define “extreme hardship”; “rehabilitation” of the K-1 fiancée; and that the K-1 fianceé admission would “not be contrary to the national welfare, safety, or security of the U.S.”  

In other words, as with all of our waiver cases, we went above and beyond the work that many law firms would engage in by demonstrating that our client met the legal standard of BOTH INA 212(a)(2)(D)(i)-(ii) and INA 212(h)(1)(B).  This brief was accompanied by supporting exhibits that provided credible proof of every vital and relevant statement made in the legal brief.

The positive factors in this case included:

  • Psychological disorders suffered by the U.S. citizen fiancé which includes Dysthymic Disorder and Bipolar Depression, both of which were being aggravated by the prolonged separation of the couple.
  • Various physical ailments and medical conditions suffered by the U.S. citizen fiancé.
  • Various physical ailments and medical conditions suffered by the U.S. citizen fiancé’s father, who relies upon  his son to oversee his medical care.  The U.S. citizen fiancé is also expected to take over day-to-day care of his father in the future when his father’s wife is no longer able to carry out these duties due to her own age and health status.
  • Various physical ailments and a serious psychological disorder suffered by the U.S. citizen fiancé’s brother.  The U.S. citizen fiancé coordinates the medical care of his brother and visits him at the facility where he is hospitalized several times a week.
  • The role of the U.S. citizen fiancé in caring for indigent and low-income individuals through his professional work.  We presented and discussed the irreparable negative impact on the local community should the U.S. citizen fiancé be forced to depart from the U.S. in order to live with his beloved fiancée abroad in Thailand.
  • Country conditions of Thailand including the inability of the U.S. citizen fiancé to obtain proper psychological care for himself in Thailand; his inability to speak the local language; and his inability to practice his specialized profession there due to language-based licensing requirements.
  • Evidence of rehabilitation of the Thai fiancée including a letter of good moral character from the local chief of police; her reformed life as a business owner who continues to supports her family financially; her complete honesty in admitting to her past misconduct during her K-1 visa consular interview; and the reason for her past misconduct (which was to financially support her impoverished mother and siblings).

Although extreme hardship is only considered when suffered by the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident parent, spouse, son, or daughter of the foreign applicant under INA 212(h)(1)(B), it is my experience that extreme hardship suffered by any close relative of the qualifying relative should be thoroughly discussed.  In this case, the extreme hardships to be suffered by the U.S. citizen’s father and U.S. brother in the event of my client’s departure from the U.S., would in turn impact the U.S. citizen himself and aggravate all of the conditions he presently suffers from.  This was carefully outlined in detail in our memorandum.  This connection can be made when the qualifying relative plays an integral role in taking care of the close relative, either in daily care, financial support, and/or medical oversight.

As a result of the I-601 “prostitution waiver expeditiously prepared and submitted by my office within 2 weeks of my client having first contacted our office, the I-601 waiver application was approved by the USCIS.  The couple now happily reside together inside the U.S.

Waiver Approval: I-601 Waiver Approved for K-1 Fiancee Inadmissible for Fraud – Misrepresentation

Waiver Approval: I-601 Waiver Approved for K-1 Fiancee Inadmissible for Fraud - Misrepresentation

We recently obtained approval of the I-601 “Extreme Hardship” Waiver and K-1 Fiancée Visa for a client from Africa found inadmissible for having attempted to procure an immigration benefit in the United States by fraud or willful misrepresentation of a material fact under INA Section 212(a)(6)(C)(i).

The K-1 fiancée was previously married to a spouse who had won the diversity visa lottery.  She attempted to obtain U.S. permanent residence together with her spouse, but was unable to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the consular officer that their marriage was genuine.  Due to irregularities that occurred during this process, she was charged with fraud/misrepresentation and became banned for life from the U.S.

Section 212(a)(6)(C) of the Act provides, in pertinent part:

(i) Any alien who, by fraud or willfully misrepresenting a material fact, seeks to procure(or has sought to procure or has procured) a visa, other documentation, or admission into the United States or other benefit provided under this Act is inadmissible.

The K-1 fiancée subsequently rekindled a friendship with a U.S. citizen who is a member of the U.S. Navy.  They fell in love with one another and contacted my office to help represent them throughout the K-1 Fiancée Visa process.

I first provided the couple with a detailed letter going over the K-1 Fiancée Visa process from start to finish.  This “start-up package” included client questionnaires and a checklist of supporting documents to gather and forward to my office.

After the initial USCIS petition was expeditiously prepared and filed by my office on behalf of our clients, I provided the couple with another detailed letter going over preparation guidelines and tips for the K-1 visa interview.

To prepare for the fraud/misrepresentation charge that we expected to be levied against the K-1 fiancée visa at her consular interview, I began preparation of the I-601 waiver package while the K-1 visa petition was still processing. This allowed my clients to save time by having the I-601 “extreme hardship” waiver ready to submit as soon as the consular interview was complete.

Section 212(i) of the Act provides that:

The Attorney General [now the Secretary of Homeland Security (Secretary)] may, in the discretion of the Attorney General [Secretary], waive the application of clause (i) of subsection (a)(6)(C) in the case of an alien who is the spouse, son or daughter of a United States citizen or of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence, if it is established to the satisfaction of the Attorney General [Secretary] that the refusal of admission to the United States of such immigrant alien would result in extreme hardship to the citizen or lawfully resident spouse or parent of such an alien.

A waiver of inadmissibility under section 212(i) of the Act is dependent on a showing that the bar to admission imposes extreme hardship on a qualifying relative, which includes the U.S. citizen or lawfully resident spouse or parent of the applicant.  The applicant’s spouse is the only qualifying relative in this case.  If extreme hardship to a qualifying relative is established, the applicant is statutorily eligible for a waiver, and USCIS then assesses whether a favorable exercise of discretion is warranted. See Matter of Mendez-Moralez, 21 I&N Dec. 296, 301 (BIA 1996).

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.

The favorable factors we presented and proved in this case to obtain approval of the I-601 Waiver includes the following:

  • The U.S. citizen fiancé is solely responsible for the day-to-day care and financial support of his mother, who suffered severe brain damage and relies upon her son for the necessities of life
  • The U.S. citizen fiancé lives with his mother and his younger brother.  Due to his mother’s incapacity, the U.S. citizen fiancé is now responsible for providing food, housing, clothing, and emotional support to his younger brother as well.
  • The U.S. citizen fiancé does not earn enough through his work with the U.S. Navy to meet the expenses involved in caring for himself, his incapacitated mother, and his younger brother.  He is falling deeper into debt.  He needs his fiancée in the U.S. and working to provide a second income that will help meet the financial needs of this tight-knit family.
  • The U.S. citizen fiancé is at high risk of psychological decompensation due to the tremendous stress of caring for his disabled parent and younger brother.  He also faces deployment abroad in 2016 with the U.S. Navy.  This is putting extraordinary pressure on him as he needs his fiancée in the United States as soon as possible to help him psychologically cope and to assist in the care for his disabled mother and young brother.  His fiancée’s presence in the U.S. and her day-to-day assistance will be especially vital  during his deployment abroad with the U.S. Navy.

As a result of our efforts, our client was approved for the I-601 Waiver and K-1 Fiancée Visa.  She can now enter the United States, marry her U.S. citizen fiancée, and subsequently apply for adjustment of status to permanent residence in the United States.

Client Approval: I-601 Waiver Approved for Marijuana Possession Conviction

I-601 "Extreme Hardship" Waiver Approved for K-1 Fiancee Inadmissible due to Marijuana Possession Conviction Pursuant to INA 212(h)(1)(B).

Our law firm and our clients were pleased to receive two separate “extreme hardship” immigrant waiver approvals in one day.

The first waiver approval was for a I-601 Application for Waiver of Inadmissibility for the K-1 fiance of a U.S. citizen (from Japan) who was deemed inadmissible for life due to a conviction for simple possession of marijuana.

The second waiver approval received the same day was for a I-601A Application for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver for the Peruvian husband of a U.S. citizen spouse.

I-601 “Extreme Hardship” Waiver Approved for K-1 Fiance of U.S. Citizen Deemed Inadmissible for Conviction of Possession of Marijuana

INA 212(a)(2)(A)(i)(II) deems inadmissible those convicted of, or who admit to having committed, or who admit to committing acts which constitute the essential elements of a a violation or conspiracy to violate any law or regulation of a State, the United States or a foreign country relating to a controlled substance as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802).

An immigrant waiver is available pursuant to INA 212(h)(1)(A) if

  • the alien’s admission to the United States would not be contrary to the national welfare, safety, or security of the United States;
  • alien has been rehabilitated;
  • the inadmissible act occurred more than 15 years before the visa application; and
  • the violation relates to a single offense of simple possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana.

Alternatively, an immigrant waiver is available pursuant to INA 212(h)(1)(B) if:

  • the alien is the spouse, parent, son, or daughter to a U.S. citizen or U.S. lawful permanent resident;
  • in the opinion of the Secretary of Homeland Security, refusing the waiver would result in extreme hardship to the qualifying U.S. citizen or U.S. lawful permanent resident relative; and
  • the violation relates to a single offense of simple possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana.

Furthermore, even if the applicant demonstrates that he merits a grant of discretion under the waiver, he must also establish that he meets the terms, conditions, and procedures of the regulations promulgated by the Attorney General. INA 212(h)(2).

The applicant is in our case has long-standing ties to the United States, where he met his U.S. citizen fiancee with whom he has been in a relationship for over 10 years.

Our client attended boarding school in the United States, graduated from a U.S. university, and has no other criminal conviction aside from a single conviction for possession of marijuana for which he completed all court-imposed requirements.

We first prepared, filed, and obtained approval of the I-129F Petition for Alien Fiancee.  As with all of our K-1 fiancee visa cases, we provided our clients with a detailed letter going over the process from start to finish.  We also provided a checklist of supporting documents to gather and provide to ensure approval of their K-1 fiancee visa petition.

We meticulously prepared every USCIS form needed, assembled the initial USCIS petition, and expeditiously submitted the petition to the USCIS on behalf of our clients.

As a result of our efforts up-front, we were able to obtain approval of the I-129F Petition for Alien Fiancee from the USCIS within 2 months of submission.

In the meantime, we prepared the I-601 Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility pursuant to INA 212(h)(1)(B) by demonstrating extreme hardship to our client’s U.S. citizen fiancee and highlighting every favorable discretionary factor from our clients’ lives.

A US citizen fiancé(e) may also be a qualifying relative for purposes of the waiver according to 9 FAM 41.81 N9.3(a) and 8 CFR 212.7(a)(1)(i).

Legal Analysis of Extreme Hardship

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, 22 I&N Dec. 560, 565-66 (BIA 1999), the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) provided a list of factors it deemed relevant in determining whether an alien has established extreme hardship to a qualifying relative.  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.

The Board of Immigration Appeals has also made it clear that although hardships may not be extreme when considered abstractly or individually,  “relevant factors, though not extreme in themselves, must be considered in the aggregate in determining whether extreme hardship exists.” Matter of O-J-O, 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.”

The Board of Immigration Appeals has also held that hardship factors such as family separation, economic disadvantage, cultural readjustment, et cetera, differ 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).

As an example, the Board of Immigration Appeals has found family separation, a common result of inadmissibility or removal, can also be the most important single hardship factor in considering hardship in the aggregate. See Salcido-Salcido, 138 F.3d at 1293 (quotingContreras-Buenfil v. INS, 712 F.2d 401, 403 (9th Cir. 1983; but see Matter of Ngai, 19 I&N Dec. at 247 (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 totality of the circumstances is considered in determining whether denial of admission would result in extreme hardship to a qualifying relative.

Our Client’s Extreme Hardship and Discretionary Factors 

The factors discussed and documented (with ample objective evidence) in the I-601 “Extreme Hardship” waiver prepared for our client includes:

  • the U.S. citizen fiancee suffering from Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Dysthymic Disorder, including being prescribed anti-anxiety medication to alleviate her symptoms;
  • the U.S. citizen fiancee suffering from medical issues that elevates her risk of cancer (requiring regular check-ups) and makes it medically advisable to start a family sooner rather than later;
  • the U.S. citizen fiancee’s foreseeable need to help financially support her U.S. citizen father, who will soon no longer able to work due to back pain
  • the U.S. citizen fiancee’s special duties as an educator of young children, and the impairment of these duties due to the psychological symptoms of her disorders (made worse by her continued separation from her fiance and related stress factors)
  • documented psychological and financial hardships suffered by the U.S. citizen fiancee (and her U.S. citizen mother) during her prior periods of residence in her fiance’s home country
  • the country conditions of her fiance’s home country including persistent gender inequality and the prohibitive cost of living in the capital city (and its resultant impact upon the financial health of the U.S. citizen fiancee and her ability to visit her immediate family in the U.S.)
  • the good moral character, rehabilitation, and other favorable discretionary factors in the life of the waiver applicant

As a result of our effort, our client was approved for the I-601 waiver and will be allowed to enter the U.S. to marry his beloved fiancee and begin a life together as a married couple.

Client Approval: I-601 Waiver Approved for K-1 Fiancee Subject to 10 Year Unlawful Presence Bar

Client Approval: I-601 Extreme Hardship Waiver Approved for K-1 Visa Fiancee from Thailand Subject to the 10 Year Unlawful Presence Bar.

Our office received approval of the K-1 fiancée visa and I-601 “unlawful presence” waiver for the Thai fiancée of a U.S. citizen.   She had previously entered the U.S. as a non-immigrant student but overstayed her authorized period of stay by over one year before voluntarily departing back to her home country.

She subsequently met and fell in love with her U.S. citizen fiancé and the couple contacted my office to obtain my legal assistance.

We first provided the couple with a comprehensive letter going over every detail of the K-1 fiancée visa process, including preparation and submission of the initial I-129F petition to the USCIS as well as consular processing at the US embassy abroad.

We also provided our clients with an abbreviated checklist of supporting documents (both mandatory and optional) to gather in support of the I-129F Petition for Alien Fiancée and return to our office.

We meticulously prepared every USCIS application form on behalf of our clients; assembled the petition; submitted it to the USCIS on their behalf; then provided our clients with further guidelines on preparing for the consular interview to maximize the probability of K-1 visa approval at the US embassy interview.

Once the K-1 fiancee visa petition was submitted to the USCIS, we began work on preparing the I-601 “Extreme Hardship” waiver to overcome the 10 year “presence” bar (under INA 212(a)(9)(B)(i)(II)) we knew the Thai fiancée is subject to.

We always work on waivers while the USCIS visa petition is pending so that no time is lost and the waiver can be submitted as soon as the applicant located abroad is eligible (typically after being deemed inadmissible at the U.S. consular interview).

INA Section 212(a)(9)(B)(v) provides that a waiver for INA Section 212(a)(9)(B)(i)(II) (10 year “unlawful presence bar”) is applicable solely where the applicant establishes extreme hardship to her U.S. citizen or lawfully resident spouse or parent.  A US citizen fiancé(e) may also be a qualifying relative for purposes of the waiver according to 9 FAM 41.81 N9.3(a) and 8 CFR 212.7(a)(1)(i).

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, 22 I&N Dec. 560, 565-66 (BIA 1999), the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) provided a list of factors it deemed relevant in determining whether an alien has established extreme hardship to a qualifying relative.  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.

The Board of Immigration Appeals has also made it clear that although hardships may not be extreme when considered abstractly or individually,  “relevant factors, though not extreme in themselves, must be considered in the aggregate in determining whether extreme hardship exists.” Matter of O-J-O, 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.”

The Board of Immigration Appeals has also held that hardship factors such as family separation, economic disadvantage, cultural readjustment, et cetera, differ 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).

As an example, the Board of Immigration Appeals has found family separation, a common result of inadmissibility or removal, can also be the most important single hardship factor in considering hardship in the aggregate. See Salcido-Salcido, 138 F.3d at 1293 (quotingContreras-Buenfil v. INS, 712 F.2d 401, 403 (9th Cir. 1983; but see Matter of Ngai, 19 I&N Dec. at 247 (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).

In support of our client’s I-601 waiver application, we prepared an extensive legal brief going over how the facts and circumstances of our clients’ situation met the legal standards used to define “extreme hardship.”  We conducted extensive research on the country conditions of Thailand to demonstrate the hardships the U.S. citizen fiancé would suffer if he were to re-locate to Thailand to be with his loved on.  The brief was accompanied by a comprehensive array of supporting exhibits that provided objective, credible proof of the statements made in the legal brief.

The positive factors in this case included:

  • The U.S. citizen fiancé suffers from Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Dysthymic Disorder and has suffered from these conditions for many years
  • The U.S. citizen fiancé’s family has an extensive history of mental illness
  • The U.S. citizen fiancé is the single parent of a U.S. citizen minor child who suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • The U.S. citizen fiancé is the sole care-giver and provider for his elderly and disabled parents, who suffer from progressive and degenerative medical conditions that have compromised their mobility and ability to perform routine tasks
  • The U.S. citizen fiancé suffers from a serious physical ailment that requires surgery.  However, he cannot undergo surgery without his fiancée’s presence in the U.S. to help take care of his parents while he recovers from surgery.
  • The U.S. citizen fiancé’s work performance is already significantly impaired due to his psychiatric and medical conditions, causing absences from work and markedly poor performance.  Continued stress caused by separation from his loved one may force him to close down his business and lead to subsequent financial collapse.
  • The U.S. citizen fiancé’s son, who suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, is negatively affected by his father’s long absence from home.  He also shares joint-custody over his son with his ex-wife, who will never allow their son to be re-located to another country.
  • The region of Thailand where the Thai fiancée resides is subject to an advisory warning by the U.S. embassy, due to historical violence and civil unrest.

As a result of the “unlawful presence” waiver prepared and submitted by our office, this I-601 waiver application was approved and the couple can now be married inside the United States and pursue a life together as a family.

Fiance Visa Approved – Client Review by Peter L.

Fiance Visa Approved - K-1 Fiance Visa Lawyer

All client testimonials are written by my former clients who you may request to contact and speak with, depending upon their personal schedules and preferences.

I highly recommend Michael Cho’s services for anyone looking for a successful outcome to their immigration needs. I hired Michael Cho to represent my fiancée and I for the K-1 Fiancée Visa process. The interactions were done mainly through email, but there was absolutely no loss in the service provided. Michael Cho was able to successfully guide us through the application and interview process to obtain the fiancée visa. Listed below are some specific reasons why I would choose Michael Cho to be my immigration lawyer:

1. Michael always responded quickly with answers to all of my questions. Responses via email were always within hours.

2. Michael’s services were more cost effective than local lawyers.

3. Michael provided step-by-step instructions and explained the entire process, which made it easy for us to know what to do.

4. Michael has deep knowledge and experience to be proactive when necessary. Michael correctly advised me to file additional forms and information so that our application would not be held up at the USCIS.

5. Michael filed the forms and followed up with the USCIS when our case seemed to take longer.

6. Michael prepared my fiancée for the interview by making sure we had the necessary forms, letters, pictures, etc. He was also willing to hold a mock interview and answer any last minute questions before the consular interview.

7. My fiancée mentioned that she was well prepared with all documents and requirements needed for the consular interview. Her successful interview only lasted a minute.

For my fiancée and I, our decision to apply for the K-1 Fiancée Visa was one of the most important steps for our relationship. I wanted everything done right the first time, with no delays and failures. Michael Cho was able to make this possible. If you are looking for a professional immigration lawyer who covers the entire basis and works tirelessly to represent you to a successful outcome, hire Michael Cho and you will not be disappointed.

Fiance Visa with IMBRA Waiver Approved

Fiance Visa - IMBRA Waiver

Our office received approval for a K-1 fiance visa petition that I prepared and filed on behalf of a U.S. citizen and his South Korean fiance.  I prepared and submitted the initial I-129F Petition for Alien Fiance together with a comprehensive array of supporting documents including proof of U.S. citizenship of the petitioner; affidavits of intent to marry; explanation of how the couple met and how the relationship has developed over time; proof of the couple having met in person within the last 2 years; and evidence of continued relationship.

The U.S. citizen had previously filed a K-1 fiance visa petition on behalf of a different person.  That relationship ended due to personal differences.  However, the International Marriage Broker Regulations Act requires a general waiver to be filed in the following circumstances:

1. When the U.S. citizen filed K-1 fiancee visa petitions for two or more beneficiaries or

2. When the U.S. citizen previously had a K-1 fiance visa petition approved, and less than 2 years have passed since the filing date of the previously approved petition.

Consequently, I also prepared a general waiver pursuant to Section 832 of the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act, Subtitle D of Title VIII (Sec.831-834) of United States Public Law 109-162.  The waiver consisted of a persuasive brief presenting the background of the U.S. citizen; an explanation of why the previous relationship ended before issuance of the K-1 fiance visa; a summary of the genuine and loving nature of the current relationship; re-iteration of their firm intent to marry within 90 days of the fiance’s entry into the United States; and documents to support the statements made in the waiver.

Both the I-129F Petition for Alien Fiance and general IMBRA waiver were approved by the USCIS.  I then prepared all of the consular forms required by the Dept. of State.  I also helped the clients gather the supporting documentation required for consular processing and conducted an interview prep via telephone to go over the types of questions that may be asked.

As a result of our concerted effort, the fiance was approved for the K-1 visa at the U.S. embassy in Seoul.  This couple can now begin a life together in the U.S. as husband and wife in the near future.

Fiance Visa, Adjustment of Status, & Naturalization Approved – Client Review by Henri G.

Fiance Visa Approved - K-1 Fiance Visa Lawyer

All client testimonials are written by my former clients who you may request to contact and speak with, depending upon their personal schedules and preferences.

When I decided to bring my Philippine fiance to the United States I originally thought that I could handle all the immigration paper work and process my self.  After spending several hours downloading all the forms and their instructions as well as using an entire ream of paper, I realized this was going to be a very daunting process.  So I began an online search for an immigration lawyer.  I wanted one with offices in Los Angeles where I live and made several calls before finally settling on Michael Cho.  Most of my contact with him was via email but he always responded to my queries and answered my questions.  He sent all the required forms for both myself and my fiance to us in PDF type format and they were very easy for both of us to fill out online.  After submission, the forms were always available online for both of us the make copies for our records and interviews.  His data collection and advice were very timely and thorough.

When it was time for me to go to the Philippines for the interview at the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Mr. Cho coordinated an online mock interview for both me and my fiance.  Considering the 16 hour time difference, this was no easy feat but it went rather well and both I and my fiance felt reasonably assured that we were well prepared.  As it turned out, we were so well prepared, immigration officials from both countries looked at our paper work, stamped it and only asked one or two questions.  It did help that we had created a binder with all the required forms and had everything tabbed and labeled so we could quickly find information.

Once in the United States and married, we continued to used Mr. Cho to apply for change of status, work permits, alien registration and Social Security Cards.  I also decided to pay for everything in advance, to include the Naturalization process.  Everything arrived within a reasonable amount of time and my wife is now a U.S. Citizen.  The entire process, to include naturalization, took less than four years from start to finish.  There was only one glitch but it was easily handled before my wife’s citizenship ceremony.  The road to U.S. Citizenship was another round of paper work and interviews but with Mr. Cho’s advice and guidance, it was completed in a timely manner.  I highly recommend him.

By Henri G. from Los Angeles, CA

Fiance Visa Approved – Client Testimonial by Eric G.

Fiance Visa Approved - K-1 Fiance Visa Lawyer & Attorney

All client testimonials are written by my former clients who you may request to contact and speak with, depending upon their personal schedules and preferences.

I used Mr. Cho’s services to obtain a K1 Fiance visa for my wife in China back in 2009.  He walked us through the process, reviewed our documentation and even talked directly with my fiance to prep for her interview.  We got the K1 visa with no issues and was very happy with the services of Mr. Cho and would highly recommend his services.

By Eric G. from Raleigh, North Carolina