Our office received approval of the I-601 waiver on behalf of the Brazilian wife of a U.S. citizen. She had previously entered the U.S. as the K-1 fiancee of her U.S. citizen husband. However, the couple attempted to handle her adjustment of status themselves, leading to mistakes in the filing of the application. She then departed the U.S. after exceeding her authorized period of stay by over one year. Our office was contacted after she was deemed inadmissible to the U.S. based on Section 212(a)(9)(B)(i)(II) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, for having been unlawfully present in the United States for more than one year and seeking readmission within 10 years of her last departure from the United States.
INA Section 212(a)(9)(B)(v) provides that a waiver, under INA Section 212(a)(9)(B)(i)(II), is applicable solely where the applicant establishes extreme hardship to her U.S. citizen or lawfully resident spouse or parent. 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 waiver application, I prepared a comprehensive legal brief going over how the facts and circumstances of her situation met the legal standards used to define “extreme hardship.” This brief was accompanied by supporting exhibits that provided proof of the statements made in the legal brief.
The positive factors in this case included:
- The U.S. citizen husband suffered from high blood pressure, which was shown to be a hereditary disease influenced by lifestyle factors. He was also diagnosed with Clinical Depression, with a rapidly deteriorating condition as a result of a miscarriage suffered by his wife during the immigration process.
- The U.S. citizen husband’s mother recently suffered two heart attacks and was now dependent on her son to take care of her, hand-feed her meals, and provide for her financially. He could not move to Brazil without abandoning his U.S. citizen mother and putting her health at risk.
- The U.S. citizen husband received medical care for his high blood pressure and clinical depression through the insurance provided by his U.S. employer. We demonstrated that his work performance had suffered noticeably due to the stress and emotional toll caused by the separation from his wife.
As a result of the I-601 waiver prepared and submitted by our office, she has received her lawful permanent resident status and the couple is now re-united inside the United States.