Attorney Ekaterina Powell from our office has prepared this article about the recently approved I-601 waiver case handled by our law firm.
Our client in this case, John, got married to his U.S. citizen wife, Mary, in San Diego, California. They started the application process for adjustment of status. At the adjustment interview, the immigration officer let them know that a green card cannot be granted to John because he was found to be inadmissible on the grounds of misrepresentation and fraud in connection with his previous visa application.
The couple was devastated. They came to our office to see if we can help them with I-601
Application for waiver of grounds of inadmissibility. We took the case, and we started working with the couple in preparing I-601 waiver petition.
I-601 cases are very unique. Each of them has its own story, a story of a family with lives of many people dependent on the result of the waiver process. The success of the case, often times, means whether the family is going to stay together. Sometimes, if such case is denied, it is a heartbreaking story of a family that used to be happy once but now they have to separate and live apart in different countries for the rest of their lives. It is especially devastating when minor children are involved who would be raised without a parent if the waiver does not succeed.
I-601 cases are very complex and require extensive legal analysis. We are particularly happy if we can assist our clients with I-601 waivers to save their families from falling apart.
I-601 waiver can cure many grounds of inadmissibility, including unlawful presence and 3 and 10 year bars, health-related grounds, certain criminal grounds, fraud and misrepresentation, alien smuggling and certain other grounds of inadmissibility.
In order to prevail in an I-601 waiver case, you have to show extreme hardship to a qualifying relative if the alien is not allowed to stay in the U.S. It is worth emphasizing that you have to prove extreme hardship to your U.S. citizen spouse, and not to the alien. It is a two-step analysis: first, you have to show that your U.S. citizen spouse would suffer extreme hardship if he/she has to leave the U.S. to follow the alien; and, second, to show extreme hardship U.S. citizen spouse will suffer if he/she has to stay in the U.S. without the alien.
It is not enough for extreme hardship determination if you miss your spouse greatly or if you will be lonely if you stay behind. The immigration, similarly, does not accept arguments that U.S. citizen does not speak the language of the country of relocation, does not know the culture, cannot find a job, or the salary will be less than the one in the U.S. This is deemed to be normal hardship that anyone would experience due to separation or relocation to another country.
Thus, each I-601 waiver case requires careful consideration of all the factors involved in order to show greater than normal hardship if the alien is denied admission.
At first, the case of John and Mary did not appear to have compelling hardship factors. The couple was recently married, without any health problems or substantial financial considerations. They did not have any children.
During the interview with the clients, we uncovered important information pertaining to Mary’s family background. Mary’s brother has Down Syndrome, and, even though in a nursing home, he greatly relies on Marry for support. Marry may not leave her mentally disabled brother behind and leave to another country. Marry may not stay in the U.S. without John either because she relies on his support.
Usually, hardship to other people related to U.S. citizen spouse does not matter for the determination. However, if you can show that U.S. citizen spouse is affected and experiences hardship herself because her family will suffer if the alien is not admitted, that is a factor to consider for the I-601 waiver.
It appeared that Marry had recently lost her mother and she had been going through psychological therapy to help her cope with the loss. For the case, we showed psychological evaluations of Mary prepared by her therapists and presented letters from Mary’s friends that attested that Mary’s depression will aggravate if John is not allowed to stay in the U.S. Marry cannot be separated from her family, friends and the community she is used to. She cannot stay in the U.S. without John because he is her major support. Marry is in need of continuous therapy, and cannot change her therapists at this time and leave to a foreign country. Her condition will aggravate if a separation occurs.
Mary has very strong family and community ties in the U.S. She was raised in a very close-knit family. When Mary’s mother was alive, she was the one that kept the family together. After her mother’s death, Mary has become a matriarch of the family and has taken on the responsibility of caring for both of her brothers and maintaining the family traditions.
Mary is an integral part of her father’s business. Mary’s father is elderly and in poor health. He is 73 years old, has an ongoing struggle with Diabetes, and has recently gone through triple bypass heart surgery. He can no longer assume the responsibilities for his business and cannot take care of himself. Mary is the only one who could assist.
Mary has a career in public relations and fundraising that are not available in John’s home country, Israel. Mary’s identity is intertwined with her career. In addition, she is deeply immersed in the local community, and she volunteers for a nonprofit organization helping to deliver meals to homeless and low-income members of the community.
Mary is not Jewish and does not speak Hebrew. With the I-601 petition, we have submitted evidence to show that Marry would be subjected to discrimination as a non-Jewish member of the community if she were to relocate to Israel.
In addition, it is not safe for Mary to relocate to John’s home country because of high crime rates and violence. Violence and unsafe environment in Israel will aggravate her condition making it impossible for her to lead a normal life.
Given all of these circumstances, Mary’s case shows how the totality of her hardship was sufficient to meet the requirements of granting an I-601 petition. Our office has been successful with these waivers before and can help you too.