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Extreme Hardship Evaluations for Immigration Services

Extreme Hardship Evaluations for Immigration Services

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What is Extreme or Exceptional Hardship?

U.S. immigration agencies and the courts define extreme hardship as a hardship that is more than what a U.S. relative would go through ordinarily if the prospective immigrant were denied entry to or continued residence in the country. There must be an additional factor at work. Therefore, it would not be sufficient to simply demonstrate that your relative will miss you, as this would be expected under any circumstance of separation.1

Since no explicit legislation or regulation distinguishes between “normal” and “extreme” hardship, each waiver application’s supporting documentation is evaluated case by case.

A U.S. citizen or permanent resident may file a petition on behalf of an undocumented family member who faces deportation. The family member claims extreme or exceptional hardship by discussing how they would suffer if the immigrant, who is not a citizen, were denied permission to stay. This evaluation will examine the American citizen’s emotional, physical, monetary, educational, and familial hardships to strengthen the case.

Deportation can be defended in part by demonstrating extreme hardship. The claim must show what would occur to a “qualified family member” (U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse or child) if the applicant is deported from the U.S.

Examples of Extreme Hardship

The hypothetical situations listed below can assist authorities in determining when a case contains elements that constitute extreme hardship:

Example 1: Thomas arrived in the country five years ago as a nonimmigrant. Thomas wed Dianne, a spouse who was a citizen of the United States, three years after his entrance. Thomas asks for a waiver because Dianne would endure great hardship if Thomas’ entry into the country were to be rejected.

Dianne presents a reliable, sworn declaration stating that if Thomas’ entrance is denied, Dianne will move to Thomas’ country of origin. Dianne and Thomas have been wed for two years. Dianne works in sales. In the new country, a position akin to Dianne’s would pay much less than it does in the U.S.

In addition, although Dianne has traveled there frequently, she does not speak the language well. Therefore, she does not have the connections necessary to help her integrate into the local society and culture.

Thomas is a talented worker who, like other skilled workers, would be paid substantially less in the country where they relocated from but had a job before coming to the United States. The couple owns no real estate or other significant assets, rents an apartment in the U.S., and is childless. Dianne and Thomas are the only members of their immediate family in both their new nation of residence and the U.S.

Analysis of Example 1: In general, a determination of extreme hardship would not be supported by these circumstances alone. Dianne’s difficulties are limited to the typical effects of relocation: economic loss and social and cultural challenges brought on mainly by her inability to speak the new language well.

Example 2: The circumstances are the same as in Example 1, with the exception that Dianne, Thomas’ U.S. citizen spouse who would migrate, suffers from a chronic medical condition that necessitates frequent doctor visits and that Thomas is an inexperienced worker who would earn considerably less in the new nation.

Additionally, Dianne has close-by relatives who are an important component of Thomas’ support network. Dianne and Thomas also have friends and neighbors who frequently step in to help when Dianne’s family is unavailable. Dianne can control the chronic ailment thanks to the doctor’s care and the support of friends and family.

Despite Dianne’s medical condition, Dianne submits a credible sworn statement declaring that she will move in with Thomas. The evidence supports this claim.

According to Dianne’s doctor, if she continues to receive medical care and support from her family and other members of her current social support network, she will advance and continue to function well. The doctor can attest that relocating to a new nation and uprooting Dianne’s medical care and support system will cause Thomas serious problems, even though she is unable to speak to the accessibility of treatment in Thomas’ home country. According to the doctor’s remark, Dianne will most likely be unable to work without her support network in the U.S.

Analysis of Example 2: These factors would generally support a conclusion of extreme hardship. Dianne’s overall sufferings now include financial losses, reduced work options, social, cultural, and language challenges, and the added medical hardship she would experience if she moved to Thomas’ home country.

A determination of extreme hardship would typically be supported by the testimony of Dianne’s doctor, who expressed concerns about the disruption in medical care, the impact of losing support from Dianne’s family and social surroundings, and the potential that Dianne won’t be able to accept employment.

What is an Immigration Hardship Evaluation?

Immigration hardship psychological evaluations list all of the difficulties the eligible relative will experience if their non-citizen relative is deported or if they must leave the country. Therefore, an immigration case gains much value from mental health or psychological evaluation.

A qualified mental health professional conducts the examination, which typically takes place over a 2- to 4-hour interview and results in a 12- to 15-page report that serves as a general overview of the subject’s mental health.

The first step in psychological immigration services is to speak with a lawyer. A lawyer may use a comprehensive report and an expert evaluation completed by a licensed hardship evaluation psychologist to help your case and benefit the immigration proceedings. If an attorney suggests that you and/or family members should have an evaluation performed, any pertinent information regarding your case is obtained, along with any specific legal difficulties.

The immigration courts determine whether a person may remain in the United States lawfully. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) regulation states that it will allow such a waiver if you can demonstrate convincing proof that the American citizen or legal permanent resident relative will endure either of the following:2

  • Extreme hardship in the United States if you were denied permission to visit or remain there with them
  • Extreme hardship in your own country if a family member joins or travels with you

Some significant reasons in deciding whether an applicant has proven extreme hardship to a qualifying relative are included below. This list is not all-inclusive; additional factors not included here may also be significant in determining extreme hardship.3

Even if one or more of the following apply in a specific situation, a rejection of admission does not always result in extreme hardship. However, they are potential elements that should be considered in each unique instance in their entirety and collectively.

When the eligible relative stays in the country without the applicant, some of the below-mentioned circumstances are relevant. When the qualified relative moves abroad, additional criteria would apply. Some of the factors might be relevant in either situation.

  • Impact on Family Ties: For example, the nature of the applicant’s connection with the qualifying relative, including any details that would make a separation more difficult or less complicated.
  • Cultural and Social Impact: For example, the degree to which the qualifying relative would have trouble adjusting to the new nation, including being able to comprehend and follow established social norms and practices, such as gender roles and ethical or moral values.
  • Economic Effects: For example, the economic effects of the applicant’s departure on the qualifying relative, such as the ability of the applicant or qualifying relative to find employment in the new country.
  • Health Issues and Treatment: For example, health conditions, the availability and caliber of any necessary medical care, including the duration and expense of care, in the nation to which the applicant would return.
  • State of the Nation: For example, conditions in the country of relocation, such as civil unrest or widespread levels of violence, ongoing U.S. military operations there, ongoing economic sanctions against the nation, the nation’s capacity to deal with serious crimes, natural disasters like floods or earthquakes, and other socioeconomic or political circumstances that put the relocation at risk or give rise to a justifiable fear of physical harm.

What to Expect From a Hardship Evaluation for Immigration?

USCIS Forms I-601 or I-601A are commonly used to submit extreme hardship waiver requests. The first supporting documentation you’ll need to include with your waiver application is the statement from your qualifying U.S. relative. Your relative should list every kind of extreme hardship that would result from residing abroad or, alternately (or additionally), living in the United States without you.

The foreign-born applicant may also wish to submit a personal statement to elaborate on their home country’s circumstances and support the claims made by the qualifying U.S. relative.

Each claim should be backed up by further evidence from other sources. This may include, but is not restricted to:4

  • The U.S. Department of State or other governmental or human rights organizations have issued travel warnings or reports highlighting the poor human rights conditions or other problematic circumstances that will make life extremely difficult in the foreign country
  • Letters from expert forensic psychologists or other medical professionals outlining physical or emotional disorders that will make life extremely difficult
  • Copies of tax returns or pay stubs as proof of household’s earnings
  • Copies of any statements indicating debts that must be paid in America
  • Copies of the academic and/or professional credentials of the eligible relative
  • News-related items about recent developments in the home nation that may cause significant pain
  • Letters from friends, family members, or professionals supporting claims of extreme hardship

How Much Does a Hardship Evaluation Cost?

Costs for hardship evaluations range from $500 on the low end to more than $2,000 for more complicated immigration cases. It’s a lot for an immigrant who may already be paying an immigration lawyer or who is already having financial difficulties.

Some insurance plans will cover testing services related to Immigration hardship psychological evaluations. However, the amount and details of the coverage vary according to certain factors. For example, it may be more expensive to conduct extreme hardship psychological evaluations in some metropolitan regions compared to their rural counterparts. Therefore, the cost of psychological services in Tennessee can vary significantly.

Fill in our confidential insurance verification form below to learn more.

How Long Does a Hardship Evaluation Take?

The waiting period for the waiver might range from six months to a year, and in some cases, it can even be longer. Everything relies on the type of application submitted, the bar of inadmissibility being waived, the adjudicator’s working pace, and the appeals process, if applicable.


  1. Jimenez, Esmy. “How a Mental Health Evaluation Can Change the Course of an Immigrant’s Life.” The Seattle Times, 11 Oct. 2021, www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/mental-health/how-a-mental-health-evaluation-can-change-the-course-of-an-immigrants-life.
  2. “Chapter 4 – Qualifying Relative.” USCIS, 11 May 2021, www.uscis.gov/policy-manual/volume-9-part-b-chapter-4.
  3. “Chapter 5 – Extreme Hardship Considerations and Factors.” USCIS, 15 Apr. 2019, www.uscis.gov/policy-manual/volume-9-part-b-chapter-5.
  4. Yializis, Cynthia. “Proving ‘Extreme Hardship’ to a U.S. Relative for Immigration Purposes.” www.nolo.com, 18 Sept. 2022, www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/proving-extreme-hardship-us-relative-immigration-purposes.html.

If you suspect that you or someone you love suffers from mental health disorders, contact Athena Care today.

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