In many immigration cases, in order to help a client to obtain permanent resident, or “green card” status, we need to establish something called “extreme hardship” to a qualifying relative, such as the applicant’s spouse or parent who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
For example, if you entered the United States without permission, without a visa, and without presenting yourself to U.S. immigration officials when you entered, then you might not be eligible to obtain your green card while you are in the United States. You would need to go to a U.S. Consulate in your country of origin and apply for an immigrant visa. If you are approved, then you receive the immigrant visa and enter the United States as a permanent resident.
The problem, however, is that if you are living in the United States without permission for 1 year or more, and then you leave the United States, you will be subject to the “10-year bar,” which means that you will not be permitted to enter the United States until you have spent 10 years outside, unless you obtain a waiver. If you are granted the waiver, then you are permitted to enter the United States without the need to spend 10 years outside.
In order to obtain the waiver, we must convince the U.S. immigration officials that the denial of the waiver will result in “extreme hardship” to your spouse or parent who is a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident. In order to obtain the waiver, we must imagine that we don’t have the waiver, and that you, the applicant, must spend 10 years outside the United States, living in your home country.
Then, we must imagine two different scenarios:
(1) Your spouse or parent who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident remains in the United States and is separated from you for 10 years.
(2) Your spouse or parent who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident lives with you, outside the United States, in your home country for 10 years.
We must show that BOTH of these scenarios will result in “extreme hardship” to your spouse or parent. If we convince U.S. immigration officials that BOTH of these scenarios will result in extreme hardship, then you will be granted the waiver, and you will not be required to spend 10 years outside the United States.
In Part 2, we will explore the question of exactly what is “extreme hardship” and how we can show it.