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Extreme Hardship Waiver

Extreme Hardship

Qualifying Relative


Generally, one cannot apply for themselves unless they qualify as a Violence Against Women Act (VAMA) self-petitioners. Applicants must have a qualifying relative who is experiencing or experienced an extreme hardship.

Grounds for Extreme Hardship: 

  • Separation 

  • Relocation 

  • Combination of separation and relocation 

These may result in extreme hardship if refusal of the applicant’s admission would cause hardship to a qualifying relative that is greater than the common consequences of family separation and/or relocation. 

Burden of Proof and Standard of Proof

The mere assertion of extreme hardship alone does not establish a credible claim. Individuals applying for a waiver of inadmissibility should provide sufficient evidence to support and substantiate assertions of extreme hardship to the qualifying relative(s).


Effect of Hardship Experienced by a Person who is not a Qualifying Relative

  • Hardship to the Applicant

    • However, the applicant’s condition and prospective situation may show that denial of his admission would have a significant emotional or financial impact on one or more qualifying relatives in the United States.

  • Aggregating Hardships

    • To establish extreme hardship, it is not necessary to demonstrate that a single hardship, taken in isolation, rises to the level of “extreme.” Rather, any relevant hardship factors “must be considered in the aggregate, not in isolation.” 

    • The applicant needs to show extreme hardship to only one qualifying relative, but an applicant may have more than one qualifying relative. 

    • If the applicant demonstrates that the combined hardships that two or more qualifying relatives would suffer rise to the level of extreme hardship, the applicant has met the extreme hardship standard. 

Considering Factors
Family Ties and Impact

  • Qualifying relative’s ties to family members living in the United States, including age, status, and length of residence of any children.

  • Responsibility for the care of any family members in the United States, particularly children, elderly adults, and disabled adults.

  • The qualifying relative’s ties, including family ties to the country of relocation, if any.

  • Nature of relationship between the applicant and the qualifying relative, including any facts about the particular relationship that would either aggravate or lessen the hardship resulting from separation.

  • Qualifying relative’s age.

  • Length of qualifying relative’s residence in the United States.

  • Length of qualifying relative’s prior residence in the country of relocation, if any.

  • Prior or current military service of qualifying relative.

  • Impact on the cognitive, social, or emotional well-being of a qualifying relative who is left to replace the applicant as caregiver for someone else, or impact on the qualifying relative (for example, child or parent) for whom such care is required.


Social and Cultural Impact

  • Loss of access to the U.S. courts and the criminal justice system, including the loss of opportunity to request or provide testimony in criminal investigations or prosecutions; to participate in proceedings to enforce labor, employment, or civil rights laws; to participate in family law proceedings, victim’s compensation proceedings, or other civil proceedings; or to obtain court orders regarding protection, child support, maintenance, child custody, or visitation.

  • Fear of persecution or societal discrimination.

  • Prior grant of U nonimmigrant status.

  • Existence of laws and social practices in thecountry of relocation that would punish the qualifying relative because he or she has been in the United States or is perceived to have Western values.

  • Access or lack of access to social institutions and structures (official and unofficial) for support, guidance, or protection.

  • Social ostracism or stigma based on characteristics such as gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, race, national origin, ethnicity, citizenship, age, political opinion, marital status, or disability. [6] 

  • Qualifying relative’s community ties in the United States and in the country of relocation.

  • Extent to which the qualifying relative has integrated into U.S. culture, including language, skills, and acculturation.

  • Extent to which the qualifying relative would have difficulty integrating into the country of relocation, including understanding and adopting social norms and established customs, including gender roles and ethical or moral codes.

  • Difficulty and expense of travel/communication to maintain ties between qualifying relative and applicant, if the qualifying relative does not relocate.

  • Qualifying relative’s present inability to communicate in the language of the country of relocation, as well as the time and difficulty that learning that language would entail.

  • Availability and quality of educational opportunities for qualifying relative (and children, if any) in the country of relocation.

  • Availability and quality of job training, including technical or vocational opportunities, for qualifying relative (and children, if any) in the country of relocation.


Economic Impact

  • Economic impact of applicant’s departure on the qualifying relative, including the applicant’s or qualifying relative’s ability to obtain employment in the country of relocation.

  • Economic impact resulting from the sale of a home, business, or other asset.

  • Economic impact resulting from the termination of a professional practice.

  • Decline in the standard of living, including due to significant unemployment, underemployment, or other lack of economic opportunity in the country of relocation.

  • Ability to recoup losses, or repay student loan debt.

  • Cost of extraordinary needs, such as special education or training for children.

  • Cost of care for family members, including children and elderly, sick, or disabled parents.


Health Conditions & Care

  • Health conditions and the availability and quality of any required medical treatment in the country to which the applicant would be returned, including length and cost of treatment.

  • Psychological impact on the qualifying relative due to either separation from the applicant or departure from the United States, including separation from other family members living in the United States.

  • Psychological impact on the qualifying relative due to the suffering of the applicant.

  • Prior trauma suffered by the qualifying relative that may aggravate the psychological impact of separation or relocation, including trauma evidenced by prior grants of asylum, refugee status, or other forms of humanitarian protection.


Country Conditions

  • Conditions in the country of relocation, including civil unrest or generalized levels of violence, current U.S. military operations in the country, active U.S. economic sanctions against the country, ability of country to address significant crime, environmental catastrophes like flooding or earthquakes, and other socio-economic or political conditions that jeopardize safe repatriation or lead to reasonable fear of physical harm.

  • Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation. [8] 

  • Danger Pay for U.S. government workers stationed in the country of nationality. [9] 

  • Withdrawal of Peace Corps from the country of nationality for security reasons.

  • DOS Travel Warnings or Alerts, whether or not they constitute a particularly significant factor, as set forth in Part E below.


USCIS accepts any type of probative evidence, including, but not limited to: 

  • Expert opinions; 

  • Medical or mental health documentation and evaluations by licensed professionals;

  • Official documents, such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, adoption papers, paternity orders, orders of child support, and other court or official documents;

  • Photographs;

  • Evidence of employment or business ties, such as payroll records or tax statements;

  • Bank records and other financial records; 

  • Membership records in community organizations, confirmation of volunteer activities, or records related to cultural affiliations;

  • Newspaper articles and reports; 

  • Country reports from official and private organizations;

  • Personal oral testimony; [2] and

  • Affidavits, statements that are not notarized but are signed “under penalty of perjury” as permitted by 28 U.S.C. 1746, or letters from the applicant or any other person. 


​If the applicant indicates that certain relevant evidence is not available, the applicant must provide a reasonable explanation for the unavailability, along with available supporting documentation.  Depending on the country where the applicant is from, is being removed to, or resides, certain evidence may be unavailable. 

All services are also available in Arabic


Please fill out the form below or call us at (518) 472-0230.

Law Offices of Joseph F. Jacob, PLLC

125 Wolf Road, Ste 309

Albany, NY 12205

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