Our office recently obtained approval of the I-601 “Extreme Hardship” Waiver for a Canadian client 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).
Our clients, a U.S. citizen wife and her Canadian husband, contacted me to prepare and submit the I-601 Application of Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility on their behalf, after the Canadian husband was denied for an immigrant visa at the US consulate in Canada.
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.
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 wife suffered severe psychiatric decompensation shortly after their first failed attempt to have her spouse from Canada immigrate to the United States. As a result of her hospitalization, her psychiatrist ordered a leave of absence from her work and career.
- Loss of income from stopping work has forced the U.S. citizen wife to move in with her parents, who are elderly and infirm. The U.S. citizen wife provides daily living assistance to both her father and mother.
- The U.S. citizen wife has a son from a former relationship. The son is suffering severe behavioral and emotional problems due to the close bond he has developed with his step-father and due to their on-going separation from one another.
- The U.S. citizen wife shares joint-legal custody of her son with the biological father under a legal custody agreement. Her son’s father, who exercises regular visitation rights, would never allow their son to be re-located to Canada.
- The U.S. citizen wife is becoming increasingly depressed, as she lost her home, her transportation, her good credit rating, as well as her ability to work. She requires her Canadian husband’s presence and support now more than never to survive in a rapidly deteriorating situation.
- The Canadian husband has no criminal history, has worked productive in the financial services industry for more than two decades, and is a loving husband and father who has been an impeccable step-father and role model to his U.S. citizen step-son.
Some clients (and attorneys) mistakenly believe that extreme hardship can only established when the applicant comes from a “developing country.” We routinely obtain I-601 Waivers for clients who come from countries such as Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan, and other more “developed” countries throughout the world. We have particular expertise in demonstrating how the unique circumstances of our clients’ lives combine and interact to meet the threshold of “extreme hardship.” Just as importantly, we always go beyond the legalese and present our clients as people that the adjudicating officer can relate to.
As a result, our client was approved for the I-601 Waiver and can now obtain permanent residence in the U.S. to reside together with his family.