Our office received approval of both the I-212 Waiver (Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission) and I-601 Waiver (Application for Waiver of Excludability) for the South Korean spouse of a U.S. citizen. The South Korean wife was found inadmissible to the United States based on having admitted to previously engaging in prostitution in the United States; having committed fraud/misrepresentation in order to gain an immigration benefit; and having been expeditiously removed from the U.S. while attempting to enter the U.S. with a validly approved K-1 visa.
The U.S. citizen husband contacted my office after his fiancee’s removal from the United States due to our firm’s in-depth experience in securing I-601 “Prostitution Waivers” and I-601 “Fraud/Misrepresentation Waivers” over the past 12 years. This was a particularly challenging case given the numerous grounds of inadmissibility that the South Korean wife was subject to: prostitution, fraud/misrepresentation, and a 5 year bar due to expedited removal from the U.S.
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.
In Matter of Tin, 14 I & N 371 (1973), and Matter of Lee, 17 I & N Dec. 275 (1978), the Board of Immigration Appeals established the standards to be considered in adjudicating applications for permission to reapply (applied for using the I-212 Waiver): 1. the basis for deportation; 2. recency of deportation; 3. applicant’s length of residence in the United States; 4. the applicant’s good moral character; 5. the applicant’s respect for law and order; 6. evidence of reformation and rehabilitation; 7. hardship involving the applicant and others; 8. the need for the applicant’s services in the United States; and 9. whether the applicant has an approved immigrant or non-immigrant visa petition.
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 and I-212 waiver applications, 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 client; and that my client’s admission would “not be contrary to the national welfare, safety, or security of the U.S.”
In other words, 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 husband including Dysthymic Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder, both of which were being aggravated by the prolonged separation of the couple
- Various physical illnesses and conditions suffered by the U.S. citizen husband, including Chronic Hepatitis B that required constant medical monitoring and treatment in the United States
- Various physical illnesses and conditions suffered by the U.S. citizen husband’s parents, both of whom relied upon their son to support them financially and manage their medical care
- Significant amounts of U.S. educational and mortgage debt of the U.S. citizen, all of which would be in danger of default should the U.S. citizen husband be forced to re-locate to South Korea (a country where he neither spoke the language nor would be qualified to practice his specialized profession)
- Evidence of rehabilitation of the South Korean wife including educational courses undertaken and numerous affidavits written in her support
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 parents in the event of their son’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,” I-601 “fraud/misrepresentation waiver,” and I-212 “removal/deportation waiver” prepared and submitted by my office, the I-601 and I-212 waiver applications were all approved. The couple now happily reside together inside the U.S. The South Korean wife holds U.S. permanent residence and will qualify to apply for U.S. citizenship within three years.