This week, we received approval of both an Application for Adjustment of Status to Lawful Permanent Residence and approval of the related I-601 “Extreme Hardship” Waiver for a client subject to a life-time inadmissibility bar to the United States due to fraud/misrepresentation.
The applicant was found to be inadmissible to the United States under section 212(a)(6)(C)(i) of the Act, 8 U.S.C. §1182(a)(6)(C)(i), for having attempted to procure an immigration benefit in the United States by fraud or willful misrepresentation.
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.
In this case, we prepared an Application for Adjustment of Status to Lawful Permanent Residence for the applicant based upon marriage to a U.S. citizen. As with all of our Adjustment of Status cases, we provided a detailed letter going over every step of Adjustment of Status process to our client. We also provided a point-by-point checklist which describes every supporting document required for the case, making it easy for our clients to know what to gather and forward to our office.
We drafted every USCIS form required for Adjustment of Status, assembled the package for filing with the USCIS, and submitted it on behalf of our client after a final review to make sure every legal and technical requirement was met.
Once the Adjustment of Status application was filed, we began preparation of the I-601 “Extreme Hardship” Waiver. The I-601 Waiver for Fraud/Misrepresentation prepared by our law firm included a complete set of USCIS forms requesting consideration of the I-601 Waiver; a 25 page waiver statement detailing relevant case law favorable to my client’s situation and presenting the extreme hardships that applied to this case; and an extensive collection of exhibits to prove the extreme hardships being presented.
The favorable factors of this case discussed in detail in our I-601 Waiver application include:
- The U.S. citizen spouse has long suffered from Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Dysthymic “Persistent Depressive” Disorder
- The U.S. citizen spouse has a significant family history for mental health issues including a sibling who has suffered from clinical depression, and maternal family members with histories of Alzheimer’s disease
- The U.S. citizen spouse’s father has struggled repeatedly with cancer, severe gout, and hepatitis B, as well as hypercholesterolemia and hypertension. The U.S. citizen spouse helps take of his father as best he can.
- The U.S. citizen spouse’s academic research and expertise lies within in area of significant national interest to the United States
- The U.S. citizen spouse was born and raised in the U.S. and has extensive familial, professional, and social ties to the country.
- The waiver applicant is a senior executive with a multinational corporation that employs 11,500 people worldwide, and has been entrusted with high-level fiduciary and financial duties by the company
As a result of our effort, the I-601 “extreme hardship” waiver was approved together with the Adjustment of Status application within 3.5 months of submission, and our client was granted U.S. permanent residence.