I-601 Hardship Waiver

What is an I-601 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.

Note: If you need an unlawful presence waiver in order to get your green card through an immigrant visa and you are currently in the United States, you should also learn more about I-601A Waivers.

If you only want to make a short visit to the United States and don't plan on immigrating, you should explore whether a nonimmigrant waiver is a good option.

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.

I-601 Hardship Waiver Steps

The steps in the I-601 waiver process will vary some depending on the status of your case when you submit your waiver application. Common situations where you may submit a waiver application include:

  • If you are applying for adjustment of status and know that a waiver is needed you may include your waiver application with your adjustment of status application.
  • You may be asked to submit a waiver application after your adjustment of status interview.
  • You may be asked to submit a waiver application after your immigrant visa interview.
  • You may need to submit a waiver application as part of your immigration court case.

For all of these situations, your waiver application will involve the following steps:

Step 1: Identify your strongest hardship factors and decide how you want to present them as part of your application.

Step 2: Prepare your hardship letters to explain why your waiver application should be approved.

Step 3: Identify and collect supporting documents to complete your waiver application.

Step 4: Finalize and submit your I-601 form and application package.

I-601 Waiver Costs

The costs involved in getting an I-601 waiver can be viewed in three groups: the required government filing fees, other required costs and attorney fees.

The required government filing fees are:

  • $930 for the Form I-601 filing fee

The government filing fee must be submitted with the application. The fee can be paid by  check or money order. In addition, you may be able to pay the filing fee by credit card.

The other required costs that you should expect as part of the waiver process are:

  • Translation costs – varies by the translator and type of documents being translated into English
  • Supporting document costs – varies by what documents need to be obtained

Depending on whether you work with an immigration lawyer, you may also have attorney fees as part of the total costs of the process.

Not everyone who applies for an immigration waiver will need a lawyer to assist them with the process. You can learn more about whether you need a lawyer by reading the information on this website and by learning more about the role of an immigration lawyer in the immigration waiver process. If you decide to hire an immigration lawyer to assist you, the legal fees will vary by law firm and the complexity of the case.

How We Can Help With Your I-601 Waiver Application

You are not required to work with an immigration lawyer, but working with one can be very helpful and can help minimize the stress involved in the I-601 waiver application process.

Our immigration lawyer I-601 waiver services include the following:

  • Explain the I-601 waiver process to you to help you decide if it is the best option for you
  • Review your immigration history to make sure that you qualify for an I-601 waiver
  • Research and resolve any special issues with your case to minimize the risk that your application will be denied
  • Prepare all forms necessary for your application, including your I-601 form
  • Pepare any legal letters or memos needed for your case
  • Identify the supporting documents needed for your application
  • Help identify your strongest hardship factors for your waiver application
  • Assist with preparing any affidavits or declarations needed for your case, including the hardship letters
  • Prepare and submit responses to any standard Requests for Evidence received from USCIS