Our office recently received approval for the I-601 Waiver for a client found inadmissible to the United States due to fraud/misrepresentation.
The applicant misstated his marital status and the number of children he has in an immigration application, and was subsequently found inadmissible under INA Section 212(a)(6)(C) when he was forthcoming with the facts during his visa interview.
The married couple then contacted our law firm to prepare the I-601 Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility on their behalf.
INA 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.
INA 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 totality of the circumstances is considered when determining whether denial of admission would result in extreme hardship to a qualifying relative.
The favorable factors we presented to secure approval of the I-601 waiver in our client’s case includes the following:
- The U.S. citizen spouse suffers from psychological and physical disorders, and has been diagnosed with obesity. The psychological stress, anxiety, and depression caused by her immigration situation leads to a vicious cycle of overeating, which further destabilizes her psychological and physical health, and in turn leads to increased psychological stress and anxiety.
- The U.S. citizen spouse lives with her mother and brother, both of whom suffer from serious illnesses and rely upon the U.S. citizen spouse for day-to-day help and financial support.
- The U.S. citizen spouse is in severe debt, on the verge of bankruptcy, with monthly expenses that far outstrip her monthly income.
- The foreign spouse (the waiver applicant) has no criminal record whatsoever except for the single charge of immigration fraud/misrepresentation, for which he was forthcoming and completely truthful during his visa interview
- Country conditions of Nigeria (where the foreign spouse is originally from and resides in) show ethnic, sectarian, and tribal conflicts throughout the country; rampant crime with largely ineffective law enforcement; and travel through large swaths of the countryside limited for U.S. embassy employees due to killings, kidnappings, and violent crime.
- U.S. Bureau of Consular Affairs describes Nigeria’s medical facilities as being in poor condition, with inadequately trained nursing staff, diagnostic and treatment equipment often poorly maintained, and many medicines unavailable.
- The CIA World Factbook states that 62% of the Nigerian population lives in extreme poverty, living on less than $1 per hour
It is important that the attorney retained to prepare the I-601 waiver or the I-601A provisional waiver be familiar with the conditions of the country where the waiver applicant is from. Our office has prepared I-601 “Extreme Hardship” Waivers and I-601A Provisional Waivers for clients who come from countries throughout the world (including but not limited to, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, France, Japan, Germany, India, Jamaica, Latvia, Mexico, Nigeria, Morocco, Pakistan, Romania, Russia, South Korea, Thailand, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and Vietnam).
Consequently, we have in-depth experience not only researching and presenting a country’s conditions to prove extreme hardship, but precisely showing how our clients’ lives are and would be affected by these conditions.
As a result of our 25-page I-601 waiver application and numerous Exhibits attached to prove the statements made in our “extreme hardship” waiver, our client’s waiver application was approved. This family in need may now reside together in the U.S. and work together to deal with this difficult period in their lives.