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Ending Gender Based Violence: Extreme Hardship and Family Separation



"Extreme hardship" is a term used in U.S. immigration law to describe the severe and unusual hardship that a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR) would experience if a qualifying relative were to be denied admission to the United States or were to be removed from the United States. The concept of extreme hardship is relevant in several areas of immigration law, including family-based immigration, waiver applications, and relief for victims of abuse.


In the context of family-based immigration, U.S. citizens or LPRs can petition for certain family members to come to the United States, but if the qualifying relative is inadmissible due to past immigration violations, the U.S. citizen or LPR may file an I-601 waiver application to request a waiver of inadmissibility. In this case, the U.S. citizen or LPR must prove that the qualifying relative's denial of admission would result in extreme hardship to the U.S. citizen or LPR.


For waiver applications, the standard of extreme hardship is very high and it is not enough to show that the separation would be difficult or that the U.S. citizen or LPR would miss the qualifying relative. The hardship must be more than the normal emotional, psychological or financial difficulties that come with family separation. The hardship must be unusual and beyond what would be expected from the normal family separation. Factors that are considered in determining extreme hardship include: health, education, family ties, country conditions, financial considerations and other factors.


When determining what constitutes "extreme hardship" in immigration law, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will take into account several factors, including but not limited to:


Health: The denial of admission or removal of a qualifying relative may result in a significant impact on the physical or mental health of the U.S. citizen or LPR. This may include serious medical or psychological conditions, chronic illnesses, or the lack of medical facilities or treatment options in the country of origin.


Education: The denial of admission or removal of a qualifying relative may result in a significant impact on the education of U.S. citizen or LPR children or the U.S. citizen or LPR themselves. This may include the inability to continue current education, the lack of educational opportunities in the country of origin or the financial burden of education in the country of origin.


Family Ties: The denial of admission or removal of a qualifying relative may result in a significant impact on the U.S. citizen or LPR's relationship with their family members, such as the loss of emotional support, care, and financial assistance.


Country Conditions: The denial of admission or removal of a qualifying relative may result in a significant impact on the U.S. citizen or LPR's safety or well-being in the country of origin, due to factors such as political instability, violence, persecution, or lack of economic opportunities.


Financial Considerations: The denial of admission or removal of a qualifying relative may result in a significant financial impact on the U.S. citizen or LPR, including loss of income, the inability to pay for basic necessities, or the inability to maintain their current standard of living.


It's important to note that the criteria for what constitutes "extreme hardship" are very strict, and it's not enough to show that the separation would be difficult or that the U.S. citizen or LPR would miss the qualifying relative. The hardship must be more than the normal emotional, psychological or financial difficulties that come with family separation. The hardship must be unusual and beyond what would be expected from the normal family separation.