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601 or 601A Hardship Waiver

What is a 601 or 601A Hardship Waiver, and Why do I Need It?


I meet many people who want their spouse or parent to file a petition for them to obtain their green card. They have heard that they might have to leave the country and that they might need to file for a special waiver.

The family petition process can be overwhelming if you are unfamiliar with the steps and documents required. Do not fear. We are here to help. Below is a brief discussion of hardship waivers and how they can help you achieve your immigration goals.

Do I need a waiver?

If you will be leaving the United States to have an immigration interview at a US consulate abroad, then you might need a hardship waiver.

When you have lived in the United States in unlawful status for one year or more and then you leave the United States (even if your departure is only to attend your immigration interview), you trigger the 10 year bar of inadmissibility. This means you cannot lawfully return to the United States until you can prove you have spent at least 10 years outside of the United States.

However, you can ask the US government to waive, or pardon, the 10 year bar. You do this by filing the 601 or 601A hardship waiver.

What do I have to prove to obtain a waiver?

For the hardship waiver, you must prove that you have a spouse or parent who is a US citizen or resident who will suffer extreme hardship if 1) they must live apart from you for 10 years, and 2) if they move out of the United States to live with you while you wait out your 10 year penalty.

The filing of a hardship waiver requires you to present detailed information about all facets of your life and the life of your spouse or parent, including: finances, medical history, emotional or mental health, education and training, career, children’s education, living conditions, ties to the United States, connections to and the conditions in your country of origin.

You must convince the immigration officer that your spouse or parent will be devastated without you. Unfortunately, the government does not look directly at hardship to your children, but your children’s circumstances can be tied into hardship to your spouse or parent.

What is the difference between a 601 and a 601A waiver?

If you are basing your waiver application on hardship to your US citizen spouse or parent, you can file for the hardship waiver in the United States. You will use form 601A.

If you are basing your waiver application on hardship to your lawful permanent resident spouse or parent, then you must wait until you are already outside of the United States and have attended your consular interview to file for the hardship waiver. You will use form 601.

Because filing a 601A waiver drastically reduces the time you must spend outside of the United States and allows you to know the outcome of the waiver before you ever leave the country, we strongly advise that you wait until your spouse or parent becomes a US citizen to file for a hardship waiver.

Filing for a hardship waiver can be a very difficult and demanding process. We will guide you each step of the way and help you prepare detailed, thorough, and convincing arguments.