Immigrant Waivers

Immigrant waivers are only available to waive a limited number of grounds of inadmissibility. Those grounds that are waiveable include:

  • Health-related grounds;
  • Crimes involving moral turpitude;
  • Controlled substance offenses that involved less than 30 grams of marijuana only;
  • Fraud/misrepresentation (does not include a false claim to U.S. citizenship);
  • Smuggling; and
  • Unlawful presence.


Most often, foreign nationals require immigrant waivers in order to overcome CIMTs, fraud/misrepresentation, and unlawful presence. In each of these instances, the waiver applicant must show that his/her U.S. citizen or permanent resident qualifying relative would suffer “extreme hardship” in the event that the waiver applicant cannot immigrate to the U.S.

The term “extreme hardship” has a specific meaning under U.S. immigration law. It is more than the ordinary, typical hardship that a family member would suffer if a relative cannot immigrate. Financial hardship alone is insufficient to show extreme hardship for immigration purposes.

The factors deemed relevant in determining extreme hardship to a qualifying relative include, but are not limited to, the following: the presence of lawful permanent resident or United States citizen family ties to this country; the qualifying relative’s family ties outside the United States; the conditions in the country or countries to which the qualifying relative would relocate and the extent of the qualifying relative’s ties to such countries; the financial impact of departure from this country; and, finally, significant conditions of health, particularly when tied to an unavailability of suitable medical care in the country to which the qualifying relative would relocate.

A showing of extreme hardship requires more than demonstrating the ordinary, typical hardship that a family member would experience if their relative cannot immigrate. Financial hardship alone is not enough. The hardship, which must be experienced by the U.S. citizen/permanent resident relative (not the non-citizen applicant), must go beyond that normally expected in cases of family separation. Successful applicants will usually have demonstrated unique and/or unusual hardships to the U.S. citizen/permanent resident relative, such as: serious health conditions (physical and/or mental); lack of the U.S. citizen/permanent resident’s family ties to the applicant’s country of origin; ability to speak the applicant’s native language; financial considerations; loss of opportunity in applicant’s country of origin, etc.