What you need to know about “Extreme Hardship” for US Immigration

For many people, staying in the US can be a matter of life and death. Being deported could mean persecution in their own countries, torture, and/or death.

But for many immigrants, extreme hardship means being forced to live without  your family, children, spouse, or simply losing your access to financial stability for yourself or family. It used to be that if you had come into the US as a border crosser, and were caught,  you might have to leave for ten years before you could come back and apply for your green card. This problem really did cause extreme hardship for people who had never broken any laws, and had families and livelihoods here. Now you can apply for a 601A waiver, and waive that ten year bar of entry by proving extreme hardship.

We have fought and won many extreme hardship cases for our clients, so read on to see if this avenue might be one for you.


Extreme hardship is not defined by an act, but instead has been interpreted in the courts, and thus has general guidelines but is looked at on a case by case basis. Extreme hardship is used to apply for a  601A waiver which has its own qualifications, and the applicant must establish that his or her deportation or removal would result in extreme hardship to a parent or spouse who is a United States citizen or lawful permanent resident alien.

The most important elements of extreme hardship are:

  1. Family separation is considered the most important extreme hardship factor…but by itself, this is not enough.
  2. Financial hardship is also looked at, but it is also often not enough on its own.

“Common results” of deportation aren’t enough for you to win

In order to win your case you must make sure you aren’t relying on what the courts refer to as “common results” of deportation or removal. This means that feelings of regular loss or uprooting from family and friends – something anyone would feel if they were deported – are not considered an “extreme hardship.” Emotional upheaval of small children if they have been living in the US, or of green card holding family members who might lose their parent, etc., is also not enough.

So how can you win an extreme hardship waiver and stay in the US?

You have to present a case that shows not one single “common result,” but instead outlines how ALL those common results add up to create extreme hardship. By crafting a specific picture that details how your “common results” add up to a uncommon conclusion, you may qualify for extreme hardship, win a 601A waiver, and be able to reside lawfully in the United States.

What are the qualifying factors for Extreme Hardship?

  1. Family ties in the United States of the qualifying relative
  2. Family ties abroad of the qualifying relative
  3. Conditions of health of the qualifying relative
  4. Length of residence in the United States of the qualifying relative
  5. Conditions in the county to which the alien would be returned
  6. Alien and petitioner’s financial status (business/economic ties)
  7. Financial impact of departure from the United States
  8. Alien’s ties and involvement in their US community
  9. Alien’s immigration history
  10. Economic disadvantage if they are deported
  11. Loss of employment
  12. Separation from family
  13. Inability to maintain a certain standard of living
  14. Inability to pursue one’s chosen profession
  15. Cultural readjustment (for those that have been in the US for a long time)
  16. Inferior medical conditions in home country
  17. Inferior economic opportunities in home country
  18. Inferior educational opportunities in home country

Will you win? 601A waiver Approval Rates for extreme hardship depend on how well you present your case

Because the 601A waiver is judged on a case by case basis, it follows that your approval rate will rise if your case is well presented. If you think you may qualify for three or more of the above factors, you might have a chance of winning a 601A waiver case through extreme hardship. Even if you have received a 601A waiver denial, don’t give up! You cannot appeal that decision, but you can REFILE. We have achieved success for many clients that got denied the first time. Call the best immigration lawyer you can find today!

Written by: Harlan York

Immigration Attorney Harlan York is Former Chair, Immigration Section, NJ State Bar Association and Former Co-Chair, NY State Bar Association CFLS Immigration Committee. Mr. York appeared on National Television on CBS This Morning with Charlie Rose and Primer Impacto on Univision, as well as Telemundo, NBC, and PBS. He was honored as First Ever Immigration Lawyer of The Year in NJ by Best Lawyers.

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