A foreign–born individual seeking a visa to enter the U.S. may be deemed inadmissible under immigration law for one reason or another. In such cases, despite the condition of ineligibility for admission to the U.S., it may still be possible for that individual to obtain the needed entry visa under what is known as an I–601 Inadmissibility Waiver. I–601 waivers may be granted for a variety of reasons, and apply to different types of entry visas.

The "Extreme Hardship" Requirement

To obtain an I-601 Inadmissibility Waiver, the visa applicant must demonstrate that failure to grant the visa will result in an “extreme hardship” to the U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) spouse or parent of an I–601 waiver applicant.

Of important note, there is no set formula for obtaining a waiver. Instead, the granting or denying of a waiver is at the discretion of the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

The “extreme hardship” requirements are very stringent. First, applicants must bear in mind that the “hardship” in question refers only to the U.S. citizen or LPR who is residing in the United States, and not to the applicant. The applicant for the waiver must demonstrate that the hardship to the U.S. resident (a spouse or parent of the applicant) will occur not only if the applicant is not admitted to the U.S., but that it will also occur if that spouse or parent relocates to the country in which the I–601 applicant resides.

Further, the applicant must support the claim of hardship by documentary proof, or by a sufficiently detailed explanation of the purported hardship with adequate evidence to support the explanation.

What Qualifies as an "Extreme Hardship"?

Naturally, a child or spouse of a U.S. resident who is barred from visiting their parent or spouse may find the separation emotionally trying or may find that it creates some financial difficulties. However, these difficulties, by themselves, do not suffice to meet the definition of “extreme hardship” for purposes of an I–601 Inadmissibility Waiver regardless of how close the relationship is between the separated parties.

Instead, in order to overcome the disqualification imposed by the condition or conditions that led to inadmissibility, the I–601 waiver applicant must generally document some other factor which demonstrates hardship, such as an ongoing medical condition that requires special care or treatment; financial hardships created by caring for an elderly, infirm, or special needs parent or child; or other factors that suggest that the separation presents special and extraordinary difficulties that amount to an extreme hardship.


It is usually very difficult for visa applicants in foreign countries to understand the complex nuances of U.S. immigration law. This is especially true when it comes to seeking an I–601 waiver, whose purpose is to demonstrate to U.S. immigration officials that the condition which makes an individual excludable from entry into the U.S. ought to be set aside. No doubt this is a very daunting task.

The legal advocates of Bushell & Widdison have experience assisting clients in obtaining I–601 waivers. Consequently, we know exactly how to help both the U.S. resident and the I–601 applicant understand the hardship requirements, and help them to assemble the necessary documentary proof or explanation required to meet the requisite hardship standard. 

In addition, because the I–601 Waiver application is submitted at the United States Embassy or Consulate that is processing the application, the assistance of our immigration attorney is especially critical in assisting I–601 applicants with the confusing and intimidating consular process.

If you or anyone you know wants to help a spouse or child in obtain an I–601 waiver, let us offer you our qualified and experienced services. To speak with an immigration attorney and get the advice and assistance you need, please call us today.