Our office received approval of the I-601 Application of Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility for a Romanian client who was subject to the 10 year unlawful presence bar under INA Section 212(a)(9)(B).
She entered the U.S. under the J-1 visa and was granted “duration of status” upon entry. She then resided in the U.S. for approximately 7 years until she received a notice of J-1 exchange visitor status violation in 2009. She was informed that as of the date of the USCIS notice, she was considered out of status and unlawfully present in the U.S. She was then granted voluntary departure during removal proceedings and returned to her home country of Romania. The couple contacted my office after the wife was denied at her immigrant visa interview at the U.S. embassy in Bucharest due to being subject to the 10 year unlawful presence ground of inadmissibility.
Note: For non-immigrants admitted for Duration of Status, if the USCIS finds a nonimmigrant status violation while adjudicating a request for an immigration benefit, unlawful presence will begin to accrue on the day after the request is denied. If an immigration judge makes a determination of nonimmigrant status violation in exclusion, deportation, or removal proceedings, unlawful presence begins to accrue the day after the immigration judge’s order. It must be emphasized that the accrual of unlawful presence neither begins on the date that a status violation occurs, nor on the day on which removal proceedings are initiated. See 8 CFR 239.3.
An I-601 Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility requires a showing that the applicant’s U.S. citizen spouse or parent would suffer “extreme hardship” if the applicant is refused admission into the United States. 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” has a special meaning under U.S. immigration law. The factors considered relevant in determining extreme hardship include:
- Health of the qualifying relative: ongoing or specialized treatment requirements for a physical or mental condition; availability and quality of such treatment in the foreign national’s country, anticipated duration of the treatment; whether a condition is chronic or acute, or long or short-term.
- Financial considerations: future employability; loss due to sale of home or business or termination of a professional practice; decline in standard of living; ability to recoup short-term losses; cost of extraordinary needs, such as special education or training for children; cost of caring for family members (i.e., elderly and infirm parents).
- Education: loss of opportunity for higher education; lower quality or limited scope of education options; disruption of current program; requirement to be educated in a foreign language or culture with ensuing loss of time in grade; availability of special requirements, such as training programs or internships in specific fields.
- Personal considerations: close relatives in the United States and/or the foreign national’s country; separation from spouse/children; ages of involved parties; length of residence and community ties in the United States.
- Special considerations: cultural, language, religious, and ethnic obstacles; valid fears of persecution, physical harm, or injury; social ostracism or stigma; access to social institutions or structures.
- Any other information that explains how your personal circumstances may qualify as imposing extreme hardship on a qualifying U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident relative.
Spouses must demonstrate that their relationship will suffer more than the normal hardship or financial inconvenience caused by family separation.
I prepared a comprehensive I-601 waiver application including a 15 page legal brief going over how the facts and circumstances of her husband’s situation met the legal standards used to define “extreme hardship.” I also discussed and presented evidence of her rehabilitation, good moral character, and overall dedication as a wife and mother who was integral to the care and well-being of her ill U.S. citizen husband.
This case was particularly difficult because the U.S. citizen husband was born and raised in Romania himself. He was residing in Romania with the wife at the time the waiver was filed and working for a U.S. company with wages sufficient to support the family. We had to overcome the presumption that a U.S. citizen of Romanian origin, who speaks the local language, was educated in the country, and already residing abroad with his wife and son, has adjusted to life abroad and is not suffering extreme hardship.
Given the location of husband and wife in Romania, I worked with a Romanian clinical psychologist to ensure that her psychological evaluation of the U.S. citizen husband conformed to the specific needs and requirements of the I-601 waiver. Additionally, I carefully analyzed the strengths and weaknesses of the case and put together a table of exhibits that supported a showing of “extreme hardship.” The supporting documents included:
- Letter and medical records from the physician of the U.S. citizen husband confirming his high blood pressure and hypertension.
- Letter from a Romanian clinical psychologist confirming the U.S. citizen husband’s clinical anxiety disorder and the risk of escalation of the disorder due to the immigration consequences of his wife’s removal and subsequent inadmissibility.
- Proof of bankruptcy and foreclosure filed by the U.S. citizen husband as a result of the financial consequences of caused by his wife’s removal from the United States and subsequent inadmissibility.
- Evidence that his U.S. employment would be soon lost due to his diminished performance and extended absences caused by his wife’s removal and inadmissibility from the U.S.
- Specific information from official sources on the country conditions of Romania including its poor health system
- Proof of extended visits and household expenses in two countries that led to financial depletion of the U.S. citizen husband’s assets
- Affidavits demonstrating my client’s good moral character and her past contribution to the welfare of the U.S. and its economy
As a result of our efforts, our client was approved for the I-601 Waiver and consequently, this family of mother, father, and son will be able to return to their lives back in the United States.