Sometimes people are barred through a “three or ten-year bar” from reentry into the United States if they have been here illegally and then left the country. This can cause a barrier to obtaining a green card even when married to a U.S. citizen or when you are another family member of that citizen.
However, The United States Department of Homeland Security can waive the bar if an applicant can establish a case of extreme hardship to a spouse or parent if the applicant is not permitted to reenter. Waivers can be difficult to obtain. Additionally, applicants must apply for the waiver from outside of the United States and may have to wait for long periods of time for approval. Sometimes Immigrants have to choose between leaving the country and taking the risk they might not be able to return, or remaining in the country illegally. This can result in families enduring hardship before being permitted to reenter. For example, a wife with a disabled husband might choose between departing the United States to apply for citizenship, or staying illegally to care for her U.S. citizen husband. The requirements can result in a “Catch-22” for applicants and create difficulties in keeping families together.
Examples of extreme hardship include:
- Your spouse or parent has a medical condition and depends on you for care.
- Your spouse or parent is financially dependent on you and you will not be able to provide adequate support from overseas.
- Your spouse or parent has financial debts in the United States and cannot pay them without your assistance.
- Your spouse or parent has another sick family member and will be unable to care for that person without your support.
You will be required to provide evidence of the extreme hardship. First your qualifying relative must provide a personal statement discussing the hardship and stating the anticipated effects of your absence. You should also consider submitting a personal statement to support the arguments made by your qualifying relative and discussing conditions in your home country.
If you are or have been in the United States illegally and desire to apply for citizenship, consult an experienced immigration attorney. It is always a good idea to consult with an immigration attorney when you prepare an I-601 waiver based on extreme hardship to a qualifying relative for advice and assistance on the best way to do so to increase your opportunity to submit a successful application. Also, an attorney can assist you in identifying and collecting the best evidence to support your arguments.