In certain situations, waivers are required in order to acquire relief under the immigration laws. This is especially common with married couples where an immigrating spouse entered the country illegally and remained in the United States more than six months out of status. It also occurs when people with certain crimes attempt to acquire their permanent residence.
Areas where you might be required to file a waiver:
- You are married to a U.S. citizen, but you did not enter the United States through customs (e.g., across the border), have been in the United States for more than one year without status, and you are trying to get a green card;
- You committed a crime which makes the immigrant inadmissible;
- You made a misrepresentation or or committed fraud in order to obtain an immigration benefit (such as entering the United States under someone else’s visa); and
- Other various areas of inadmissibility.
These waivers require evidence that your qualifying relative(s) (which could be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or fiancé(e), and/or child and/or parent, depending on the circumstances and the type of waiver) will suffer extreme hardship if the immigrant cannot enter the United States. Extreme hardship is hardship above and beyond that which a normal person would experience being separated from their relative.
What are the types of hardships that immigration looks at? Immigration considers the following when it decides on hardship:
- Health – A physical or mental condition for the qualifying relative which requires treatment in the United States or where the treatment in the country of the immigrant would be substandard;
- Financial – Where job prospects are such that your qualifying relative will suffer greatly if you are inadmissible;
- Personal – Encompasses personal hardships that your qualifying relative will suffer if you are inadmissible (such as hardship to a non-qualifying relative, like the qualifying relative’s child);
- Education – The qualifying relative will be unable to pursue educational advancement if you are inadmissible; and
- Cultural – Where the qualifying relative does not speak the native language in your country, or would suffer because of religious or ethical considerations in the country.
Immigration waivers are not easy. The standards that are used are high, and failing to properly explain the hardship can lead to denial of the application. Immigration waivers take time to prepare, and then time for a decision by immigration. If the application is denied, you will either have to resubmit a waiver application or appeal the decision, and that takes additional time and money, leading to longer separation from your loved ones.