I-601 Hardship Waiver Application Process
The I-601 hardship waiver application process involves six main steps:
Step 1: Confirm that an I-601 hardship waiver is needed and available for your situation.
This step involves first making sure that a hardship waiver is needed in your case. For example, if you have overstayed your visa and have not departed the United States, then an unlawful presence waiver may not be needed. In addition, the terms “misrepresentation” and “fraud” have very specific legal meanings and you may not need a misrepresentation waiver even if you have made a misstatement on a past immigration application.
If a waiver is needed in your case, you should then make sure that a waiver is available for your situation. Waivers cannot overcome everything, so make sure that there is a waiver for your situation before you invest time and money in preparing your hardship waiver package.
Step 2: Prepare the I-601 form.
The I-601 hardship waiver application form is a required part of your application package. Make sure that you read the instructions before completing this form and that you provide all of the required information.
Step 3: Prepare the hardship waiver letter.
The I-601 hardship waiver letter is a key part of the hardship waiver package. You need to make sure that you don’t rush this part of the application process. This letter will explain to the person reviewing your package why a waiver is needed and what extreme hardship will be experienced if the waiver is not granted.
Step 4: Collect supporting documents.
Even the best hardship waiver letter requires supporting evidence. Don’t make the mistake of focusing your effort on the hardship letter and then not providing the right evidence to support your letter. While you want to provide supporting evidence for as many points in your hardship letter as possible, you also don’t want to overwhelm the person reviewing the package with unhelpful or confusing supporting documents. If you decide to work with an immigration lawyer on your waiver case, your lawyer will be able to assist you with identifying what evidence should be included in your package.
Step 5: Finalize and submit the hardship waiver package.
Once you have collected everything needed for your I-601 hardship waiver package, you’ll need to finalize and submit the package. This includes preparing a detailed table of contents, making sure that you have included all required supporting documents, ensuring that the I-601 form is signed correctly, and adding any needed page numbers to your documents to help keep your package organized.
All waiver packages involving overseas cases are now submitted to one centralized address called the lockbox. You can verify the lockbox address in the I-601 waiver instructions. If you have been asked to submit a waiver application as part of your adjustment of status application process, you should follow the instructions given to you during the adjustment of status process. If you are submitting a waiver application during immigration court proceedings, you’ll need to follow the instructions of the immigration judge and the immigration court practice manual.
Note: If you are working with a lawyer on your hardship waiver, your lawyer will also prepare a legal letter memo or a legal brief to include with the hardship waiver package. This document will describe how you meet the legal requirements for the hardship waiver and why it should be granted in your case. Preparing this type of document generally requires legal research and an understanding of how to present legal arguments in writing.
Step 6: Receive the decision on your I-601 hardship waiver application.
Once your hardship waiver application package has been submitted, you’ll need to wait to receive the decision on your waiver request. The waiting time is different for each case. Although I’ve received decisions in less than 2 months, you should not be surprised if it takes longer to receive a decision. USCIS has indicated that most cases will take at least 3 to 4 months to reach a decision, and depending on the issues in your case it could take significantly longer to receive a decision.
The best way to receive a decision as quickly as possible is to make sure that your package is well organized, includes good supporting evidence and that you present your hardship arguments in a way that makes it easy for the person reviewing your package to understand the issues in your case. A poorly organized package or hiding your strongest hardship arguments in weak ones will make it more difficult for the person reviewing your case to reach a final decision.