I-601 and I-601A Hardship Waivers

Immigration law considers some individuals to be “inadmissible”, so some people need to obtain a waiver, or permission from USCIS, before they can qualify to become a permanent resident. Individuals need a waiver for various reasons including certain criminal convictions, entering the U.S. without permission, or committing immigration fraud.

Normally, individuals who are “inadmissible” for having entered the U.S. without permission, and who remained more than six months, are required by immigration law to remain outside the U.S. for three or ten years before becoming eligible for permanent residency, unless they qualify for a waiver. Individuals applying for a waiver must also have a “qualifying relative” in the U.S., normally a U.S. citizen or resident spouse or parents.

If you or someone you care about needs a waiver of inadmissibility, contact Ahmad & Associates to discuss your situation and set up a consultation with an immigration lawyer. Headquartered in Northern Virginia, we represent people in Virginia, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania, around the U.S. and worldwide. We speak Arabic, Hindi, French, Spanish and Urdu and can arrange a translator for many other languages.

I-601 Waiver

The I-601 waiver is available to individuals whom the US government deems “inadmissible” for reasons beyond entering the U.S. without permission, such as individuals with two or more convictions for certain crimes or who have committed immigration fraud, such as entering the U.S. with a fake tourist visa. The I-601 waiver is also available to individuals that do not qualify for an I-601A provisional waiver, such as spouses of permanent residents or married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens.

You can apply for an I-601 waiver from either inside the U.S. or from outside, while for an I-601A waiver, the individual must be in the US, since it is designed to serve as a pre-approved petition. Inadmissible means that a person cannot come legally to the U.S. Some common reasons include having a criminal record, fraud, and illegal presence in the U.S. In order to be granted a waiver, the applicant must show that their U.S. relative(s) would suffer extreme hardship.

Extreme hardship does not have any useful definition under immigration law in the U.S. Providing proof that your qualifying relative would definitely suffer extreme hardship is a key requirement for both I-601A and I-601 waivers. A I-601 waiver is often used by a U.S. citizen or permanent resident who has a recognized relationship with an undocumented immigrant who could get deported.

I-601A Waiver

I-601A waivers affect immigrants who have been unlawfully in the U.S. for a period that exceeds 180 days and who would normally be asked to leave the country for three or ten years in order to change immigration status. The I-601A waiver offers a way for an immigrant in this situation to stay with his or her family in the U.S. while obtaining legal residency. Certain close relatives of U.S. citizens can use this form to ask for a provisional waiver for unlawful presence, under certain sections of the Immigration and Nationality Act, before leaving the country to visit a U.S. embassy or consulate to interview for an immigrant visa. The big difference is that with an I-601A waiver, the immigrant knows before leaving whether they will be allowed back in, assuming no other bars to entry apply.

The applicant is required to produce evidence that would indicate whether any forced return to his or her original country would result in extreme hardship to any immediate family member who is a citizen (parents, spouse, and children). As the term “extreme hardship” is not well defined in the Immigration and Nationality Act case law, previous applicants’ outcomes, as determined by the USCIS decisions, give an idea of what constitutes extreme hardship, such as:

  • health concerns, including mental health of family members left behind in the U.S. who will be disadvantaged if a family member was forced out of the country,
  • educational issues related to children, especially if a child needs special help which would not be possible if returned to his or her own country,
  • family ties if those left behind in the U.S. would include most of the person’s family, and leaving would mean the family would be broken up,
  • economic disadvantage to the family left behind in the U.S., if the relative told to leave is a breadwinner,
  • the present economic and political conditions in the country where the alien would be repatriated,
  • family ties in the country where the alien would be repatriated, and
  • the extent of the applicant’s integration into U.S. society.

When hearing immigration waiver cases related to I-601 and I-601A, a USCIS official or immigration judge makes the final decision on evaluating the term extreme hardship. As there are no hard and fast criteria, each case is judged on its individual merits.

To gain approval for a waiver, the family circumstances have to be clearly outlined, and any negative cumulative aspects of extreme hardship should be emphasized. Extreme hardship is not assessed on solely economic concerns.

Concentrate on the Likely Impact on Your Qualifying Relative

The law says persuasive evidence is necessary to establish that the qualifying relative (a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident) would suffer extreme hardship if the applicant is deported. The effect on the relatives left behind in the U.S. is of importance too —but it is a mistake to focus only on the hardship to the foreign national.

There are two questions you should consider as follows:

  1. If you were denied a I-601 or I-601A waiver and you were sent back to your country of origin, how would this impact your qualifying relative(s) if he or she had to remain in the U.S. without you?
  2. What would be the extent of the hardship suffered by a qualifying family member if the I-601 waiver was denied and he or she had to depart from the United States to reside with you overseas?

Choose carefully, and take your time collecting evidence. Yes, the officers really do look through everything, so make sure it counts and is persuasive.

If you have a drunk driving (DUI or DWI) conviction, you still may be able to win an I-601 or I-601A approval.

Speak with an Immigration Lawyer About Hardship Waivers of Inadmissibility

If you’d like to speak to someone about whether and how you can obtain a waiver of inadmissibility and stay in the United States, contact Ahmad & Associates. Based in Northern Virginia, we represent people in Virginia, Washington, D.C., Maryland, Pennsylvania, the entire United States and around the world. We speak Urdu, Hindi, Arabic, French and Spanish and can make translators available for many other languages.