The I-601 waiver can be used to challenge charges of ineligibility when trying to get a visa or change status to become a permanent resident. If you are ineligible to change your status or get a visa for permanent residence, you may use the I-601 form to attempt to overturn your ineligibility. After submitting the form, the USCIS will review your form and notify you of any change in status.
If you are present in the U.S., file your I-601 waiver with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services department (USCIS). If you are not present in the U.S., you should file your I-601 form at the closest U.S. embassy or consulate. You may also file your I-601 with the USCIS “lockbox” in Chicago, but take care to follow the correct process for mailing in your waiver. If you do not follow the lockbox procedure, your waiver could be lost or significantly delayed.
The length of the application process for filing the I-601 will differ greatly by location of filing. If there is not a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office in the country where you are applying, your application will be sent to the next closest office which can delay how quickly your I-601 waiver is reviewed. How many applicants apply at your application location may also change the speed of the filing process and may cause delays.
The filing process will require substantial writing in English. You should expect to explain the grounds of your ineligibility in detail on the waiver form. You should also be able to provide documentation of your ineligibility, such as copies of your medical records or diagnoses, criminal records, financial records, or other relevant documentation to the grounds you are contesting with your I-601 waiver.
When reviewing your I-601 waiver, the USCIS may consider any number of factors. Your immigration history in the U.S. and the length of time you have lived in the U.S. (documented or otherwise). They may also consider any criminal record, employment history in the U.S., or demonstration of good moral character. The USCIS may also consider any family ties to the U.S. already and whether or not denying your application will strongly negatively affect those relationships. You can include documentation of your kinship ties, including marriage or birth certificates and should demonstrate how your presence in the U.S. is necessary to these ties. The I-601 waiver can also be used to demonstrate that leaving the U.S. or being unable to immigrate will cause severe economic hardship that could otherwise be avoided. You should aim to demonstrate any of the above factors in your I-601 waiver and you can and should include documentation for these grounds.
There is a fee for filing the I-601 waiver, currently at $585 U.S. dollars. If you are entering the U.S. on some forms of refugee or asylum and are required to file the I-601, you may also be eligible for a fee waiver. You should contact the USCIS to see if your current status is eligible for the fee waiver.
For more information and help with getting a visa, filling out forms, or other immigration services contact Attorney Phillip Kim.
If you are in deportation proceedings, you may be able to suspend your deportation by demonstrating “extreme hardship” to you or certain qualifying family members. Extreme Hardship can be a very broad and confusing category to define but there are some grounds that have been used in the past that can guide your case against deportation. In order for your deportation proceedings to be removed, you must be able to document and fully demonstrate that your deportation would cause extraordinary difficulty to you and your qualifying family. You will most likely be filing the I-601 waiver in order to challenge any grounds that have made you ineligible for residence status and have led to your possible deportation.
Family members that qualify as part of your argument for extreme hardship, besides the applicant, are the applicant’s U.S. citizen or resident parents, children, or spouse. In order for you to claim extreme hardship will be done to your spouse, children, or parents they must have a permanent residence card( green card) or are U.S. citizens. You cannot claim extreme hardship to non-resident family members or family members whose relationship to you does not qualify as relevant to deportation proceedings. Keep in mind your family member’s immigration status when building your case for extreme hardship.
Extreme hardship can be financial, psychological, marital, familial, medical, and more. You can use the age, quantity, and immigration status of your eligible family members to build your case. For example, you could include information and documentation about your citizen children in your defense. Your own immigration history, length of time living in the U.S., and your barriers to adjusting your status are also relevant. You can also argue that deportation would cause you or your family an unusual amount of psychological trauma.
Social factors about your life in the U.S. can also be used to build your defense against deportation. For example, you can demonstrate how much you have integrated into your community in the U.S. and the ties you have built to that community. You can also document your or your family’s medical condition and discuss the availability of relevant medical treatment outside the U.S.
Financial Hardship is an additional front to overturn your deportation proceedings. Demonstrating financial hardship can include your ability to find work outside the U.S., the financial impact on your family your deportation would cause, the economy in the country where you would be deported, and so on. Merely demonstrating that deportation would result in the loss of a currently held job is not enough to demonstrate extreme hardship. You must be able to show extraordinary financial adversity would result from your deportation.
Expecting or approved refugees or asylees can also demonstrate extreme hardship by arguing against the threat of abuse following deportation, the political or social climate in the country to which you would be returned, and inadequate domestic violence or trauma services in your home country. Your applications for asylum and deportation proceedings are separate and could be happening at the same time or separately from your removal. If you are granted asylum but your removal proceedings are not lifted, your asylum may be enough to change your status to permanent resident. You should discuss your deportation proceedings with the asylum officer assigned to you.
You can demonstrate the grounds of your extreme hardship through proper documentation. The more documentation you have, the stronger your case against deportation will be. Documentation can include medical records, financial records, academic records, birth and marriage certificates, and so on.
Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that building your case against deportation on any of these particular grounds will result in the cancellation of deportation. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services Board will review your petition against deportation on a case-by-case basis. Extreme hardship is broadly defined as hardship that would be much greater than would normally come from deportation. Because of this, there is no single way to have your deportation proceedings cancelled on this ground. The general aim of building your case for extreme hardship should be to show how fully you have become tied to your community in the U.S. and how you would find extraordinary barriers to re-establishing your life in the country where you would be deported.
For more information and help with deportation defense, contact immigration attorney Phillip Kim
In January, President Obama announced new immigration legislation that gives hope to thousands of immigrants in the U.S. Under the new proposed rule, the process for applying for a visa will become easier for undocumented immigrants.
The current immigration law states that a child, relative, or spouse of a U.S. citizen is eligible for U.S. residence. However, certain rules make it almost impossible for families to stay together while a member applies for a visa. Under current laws, applying and being granted a visa usually takes 3-10 years, and you can only apply for a visa in the country where you are currently a citizen. For many families in America, this means that you may be separated from your loved ones: while your family remains in the U.S., you may be going through the visa application process alone in countries like Mexico, China, or India.
Sometimes, undocumented immigrants are put on “immigration hold” or deported and not allowed to re-enter the U.S. for several years. If you are here illegally for 6 months, you can be banned from returning for 3 years. If you live in the U.S. for more than a year, you will be banned for up to 10 years.
If your family is facing what the U.S. Citizenship Services calls “extreme hardship”, you can apply for a waiver that will let you apply for a visa even though you came to America illegally. For struggling immigrant families, this waiver is the only hope of keeping families together while applicants legally find a way to live in the U.S. permanently.
Unfortunately, you have to apply for the waiver in your country of origin. For example, if you are a citizen of Mexico, you must return there, prove that your family is going through extreme hardship, and then apply for a waiver. Some applicants do not hear back for over 6 months. In the meantime, their families struggle to make ends meet in the U.S.
Thankfully, President Obama has announced a legal path for families to stay together while applicants request a waiver. Under the proposed law, illegal immigrants will be allowed to apply for a waiver while living in the U.S. For financially struggling families or people who cannot return to their native country for extreme reasons, the new legislation will open the door to citizenship while keeping families together.
There are a few drawbacks in the proposal. First off, it might take a few months for the proposal to be applied as a law. Secondly, the proposal does not adjust the current immigration law. So unfortunately, applying for a visa or green card is still a lengthy process (although, once you are granted a waiver, you might be given a green card sooner than those without a waiver).
Despite these setbacks, the proposal is still a huge step in the right direction. It does not require congressional approval so it is highly likely that the proposal will be passed. And because it has increased hope in the hearts of thousands of immigrants, the proposal can already be seen as a success.
For more information about Obama’s immigration policy, contact Attorney Phillip Kim.