Extreme Hardship Waivers of Inadmissibility

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, there are numerous grounds under which an applicant could be determined by the USCIS as inadmissible to the United States. Among the most common reasons are possessing fraudulent identification, visa or other immigration documents; previous removal or unlawful presence and undocumented entry. In most cases, if the intended immigrant has any of the aforementioned situations, they are not admissible forlawful entry into the United States.

The Immigration and Nationality Act gives the Secretary (of the Department of Homeland Security) discretion to waive inadmissibility if the intended immigrant can establish to the Secretary’s satisfaction that refusal of admission will result in extreme hardship to the citizen or lawfully resident spouse or parents of said immigrant. The reality of this waiver is that it is not often granted. Typically, the intended immigrant must also establish that this extreme hardship is greater than the hardship caused by refusal of admission to all intended immigrants — that their circumstances are unique and severe enough to warrant special treatment under the Act.

Recently, the Administrative Appeals Office made a decision in favor of upholding an immigrant’s appeal of a denial of the extreme hardship waiver because the field office had erred by not considering the totality of the circumstances that would cause extreme hardship on the immigrant’s family due to the parents’ numerous severe health/psychological problems and financial problems. Although hardship may not be considered extreme when viewed individually, the sum of several hardships may be extreme when viewed in the aggregate. This was the basis for upholding the immigrant’s appeal of the denial of the extreme hardship waiver, and I think offers some guidance to those who may, in the future, look to extreme hardship waivers as a means of being admitted to the United States.