CASE: I-601A Provisional Unlawful Presence Hardship Waiver of Inadmissibility
APPLICANT / BENEFICIARY: Guatemalan
LOCATION: Cleveland, Ohio
Our client came to the United States from Guatemala in January 2000 without inspection and admission. He married his U.S. citizen wife in 2006. They have two U.S. citizen children together. His U.S. Citizen wife filed an I-130 petition for him on March 4, 2009. This I-130 petition was approved on June 5, 2009.
Our client cannot file for adjustment of status application due to his ground of inadmissibility. He needs a waiver of inadmissibility to become a green card holder. Moreover, our client was placed in removal proceedings, but with our office’s assistance, his removal proceedings were administratively closed in December 2013 to file a provisional waiver application.
Under current law, immediate relatives of U.S. citizens who are not eligible to adjust status in the United States must travel abroad and obtain an immigrant visa. Individuals who have accrued more than 180 days of unlawful presence while in the United States must obtain a waiver of inadmissibility to overcome the unlawful presence bars under section 212(a)(9)(B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act before they can return to the United States.
In 2013, the USCIS announced of new policy called the provisional unlawful presence waiver. Beginning March 4, 2013, certain immigrant visa applicants who are spouses, children and parents of U.S. citizens (immediate relatives) can apply for provisional unlawful presence waivers before they leave the United States. The provisional unlawful presence waiver process allows individuals, who only need a waiver of inadmissibility for unlawful presence, to apply for a waiver in the United States.
The new process is expected to shorten the time U.S. citizens are separated from their immediate relatives while those family members are obtaining immigrant visas to become lawful permanent residents of the United States.
INA § 212(i) provides for a discretionary waiver of the entry without inspection inadmissibility ground. To qualify for the waiver, the alien must establish that his or her US Citizen spouse would suffer extreme hardship if the alien were denied admission. INA § 212(i)(1). In addition to the equities presented, the USCIS may consider the nature of the inadmissibility ground.
There is a seminal BIA case that deals with this waiver. In Matter of Cervantes, 22 I & N Dec. 560 (BIA 1999), the BIA identified the factors to be considered in determining whether a qualifying relative would suffer extreme hardship if the alien were denied admission. Those factors include: the presence of LPR or USC family ties both within and outside the United States; the conditions in the country to which the qualifying relative would relocate and the extent of the qualifying relative’s ties to that country; the financial impact of departure from the United States; and significant conditions of health, particularly when tied to the unavailability of suitable medical care in the country to which the qualifying relative would relocate.
Our client’s I-601A application had a good chance since our client’s U.S. Citizen wife and son suffer from a great degree of medical hardship. In the I-601A brief and supporting documents, our office included extensive medical reports of his wife and his son. We argued that if he was removed from the United States, extreme hardship to his wife is clearly foreseeable and evident. His wife has ongoing medical hardships and she would not be able to take care of her own needs and the bulk of their family chores, most importantly taking care of their children. Also, it would be extremely difficult for her to get the same level of therapy and satisfactory access to medical services in Guatemala in case she joins our client there.
In our brief, we also argued that our client and his wife have maintained strong family ties in the United States, that his wife will have difficulty in finding the same level of employment in Guatemala, that our client has good employment in the United States, and that his U.S. citizen child and his wife will face extreme financial and emotional difficulties if he is removed.
On March 11, 2015, we filed the I-601A waiver application which included the brief in support, his wife and son’s extensive medical examination records, and other documents that demonstrated hardship to his wife if he is removed from the United States.
However, on May 13, 2015, the USCIS issued a Request for Evidence (RFE) for our client’s case. USCIS explicitly requested our client to submit more evidence to prove extreme hardship to his U.S. citizen wife if he is forced to relocate in Guatemala. In response to this RFE, our office prepared a response brief along with more medical evidence of our client’s U.S. citizen wife. Our office filed the response to RFE on June 12, 2015.
Eventually, his I-601A waiver was approved on June 22, 2015. Now, he can file packet 3 and 4 here in the United States, and would go to Guatemala shortly to get his immigrant visa.