I-601 Categories of Hardship

Categories of Hardship

There are a variety of circumstances that fall under the vague rubric of "extreme hardship." The purpose of the I-601 waiver application is to prove that the degree of hardship suffered by the alien's qualifying relative(s) is extreme, and that this situation cannot be remedied by a move abroad on the part of the United States citizen or lawful permanent resident relative(s). Simply missing a person is "normal" rather than "extreme." Extreme hardship requires more than ordinary hardship.

Hardship arguments can be organized into five categories, with Category One (Strong Arguments) arguments being the strongest and Category Four (Weak Arguments Which Must Be Supported By Other Compelling Factors) the weakest. Category Five involves arguments which do not fit into any of the other categories but which mark the case as unusual or different from other cases. Generally speaking, it is best to have at least one Category Two (Compelling Arguments) and a few Category Three (Moderately Compelling Arguments) arguments presented in the waiver, though in some situations just one Category One argument will decide a case. Things like major medical conditions (e.g. terminal illness) or major political upheaval in the alien's country are examples of Category One arguments, while situations like personal debt or high crime rates in the alien's country qualify as the weakest, Category Four arguments. Criminal cases also require proving that the applicant is rehabilitated and not likely to offend again.

  1. Category One (Strong Arguments)
    • An example of a Category One argument is when the qualifying relative has a debilitating medical condition which precludes his or her move abroad and the alien must remain in the United States to care for that relative.
  2. Category Two
    • An example of a Category Two argument is where the qualifying relative suffers from a moderate medical condition which requires intermittent intensive care from alien.
  3. Category Three
    • An example of Category Three is where a qualifying relative suffers from severe clinical depression, as diagnosed by a licensed psychologist, due to the alien's immigration problems.
  4. Category Four (Weak Arguments Which Must Be Supported by Other Compelling Factors)
    • An example of Category Four is where the qualifying relative exhibits signs of depression due to the immigration situation, but has not been diagnosed nor sought professional help.
  5. Category Five (Unusual Arguments Which Make the Case Unique and May Attract the Interest of the Officer Adjudicating the Case)
    • An example of Category Five are unique elements of the case, which while not traditional hardship arguments, may cause the adjudicator to want to approve the case. An example of such factors would be photographs of the family members together or drawings by children with captions stating how much they miss the inadmissible relative. These often bring attention to the case, and together with the other arguments from Categories One through Four distinguish the case from the myriad of other similar applications which the officer is reviewing.

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