I601 Hardship Waivers – General Information

What is an I601 hardship waiver?

An I601 hardship waiver is a way to overcome certain types of immigration obstacles that keep people from being able to get an immigrant visa, obtain a green card, or visit the United States. In some cases, an I601 hardship waiver can help people who are in immigration court proceedings keep their permanent resident status. The term I601 refers to the name used by the government for the I-601 hardship waiver application form. The term “hardship” refers to the requirement that a qualifying relative experience extreme hardship if the waiver is not granted.

The obstacles that this type of waiver will help you overcome are certain grounds of inadmissibility. In immigration terms, the grounds of inadmissibility prevent a person from being able to immigrate to the United States (including applying for adjustment of status from within the United States) or to visit the United States.

What are the different types of I601 hardship waivers?

Three of the most common I601 hardship waivers are:

When you hear people talk about unlawful presence waivers, misrepresentation or fraud waivers, or criminal immigration waivers, they are talking about specific types of I601 hardship waivers.

What are the basic qualifications for an I601 hardship waiver?

The two main requirements for an I601 hardship waiver are:

  • You have a “qualifying relative” who would experience extreme hardship if you are not granted the waiver
  • You show that you are deserving of a discretionary approval of the waiver

Not all relatives are qualifying relatives and who can be a qualifying relative depends on the type of waiver:

  • Unlawful Presence Waiver. Qualifying relatives are United States citizen or permanent resident parents or spouses. Children, brothers, sisters and other relatives are not qualifying relatives for this type of waiver.
  • Misrepresentation or Fraud Waiver. Qualifying relatives are United States citizen or permanent resident parents or spouses. Children, brothers, sisters and other relatives are not qualifying relatives for this type of waiver.
  • Criminal Immigration Waiver. Qualifying relatives are United States citizen or permanent resident parents, spouses or children. Brothers, sisters and other relatives are not qualifying relatives for this type of waiver.

Extreme hardship is a technical legal term. Key points to keep in mind related to the extreme hardship requirement include:

  • To be granted a waiver, you need to show that your qualifying relative would experience hardship that is extreme compared to the hardship that is normally encountered when there is a family separation. It is not enough to simply show that your family will experience financial hardship. It is also not enough to just show that you or your qualifying relative will be very upset and heartbroken if you are forced to live apart.
  • You need to show that your qualifying relative will experience extreme hardship both if you are forced to live apart and if your relative were to relocate with you to your home country.
  • It isn’t enough to show that you will experience extreme hardship. It is only the hardship that your qualifying relative will experience that will count.
  • You must submit evidence that will document the hardship that your qualifying relative will experience. Simply writing a “hardship letter” without providing evidence to support each of your hardship claims is not enough.

Before Beginning Your I601 Hardship Waiver Application

Make sure that you understand the waiver application process and what it takes to win a waiver case before you begin your I601 hardship waiver application. You can learn more about this type of waiver by exploring the articles on this website, requesting a free copy of the Hardship Letter Special Report Immigration Waiver Guide, watching an immigration webinar or viewing the immigration videos on this website. All of this information is available for free before you ever talk to an immigration lawyer. By learning more about the I-601 hardship waiver process before you do anything else, you’ll be able to better decide whether you should hire an immigration lawyer and what questions you should ask your lawyer if you decide to work with one.

Learn more about I601 hardship waivers

To help you better understand I601 hardship waivers, I've collected answers to some of the most frequently asked questions that I run into as an Idaho immigration lawyer:

Frequently Asked Questions About I601 Hardship Waivers