If you are living in the U.S. without documentation or a visa, in most cases it is not possible to apply for permanent residency. You may be able to receive a green card through a spouse with citizenship or your adult child if you are without status, but if you are applying after having committed immigration violations in the past, then you will need to request a I-601 waiver first.
Unlike the I-601A waiver, which applies to applicants who are in the U.S. unlawfully, the I-601 waiver for grounds of inadmissibility is for those who in the past entered the country with a false passport, filed false information with the USCIS or carried out other violations. The I-601 waiver allows immigrants like these to move forward with a green card process.
In order to be granted the waiver, the applicant must prove that if they cannot receive permanent residency and are forced to return to Korea, either a spouse or parents with citizenship or a green card would suffer extreme mental or physical hardship.
It’s not easy to prove evidence of “extreme hardship,” but it is not impossible. If both your spouse or parents are healthy, you can provide proof of mental hardship. Documents showing that your spouse or parents (citizens or green card holders) suffering from depression, hardship from your deportation or worsening of conditions due to that hardship could become very important for your case.
It’s critical for you to be able to produce documentation of your family’s mental or physical extreme hardship as evidence for the waiver. You can procure this documentation with an evaluation from a mental health expert, and with records of your spouse or family’s doctor’s visits.
Other factors that are taken into consideration for the granting of a waiver include the number of family in the U.S., the length of your time living in the U.S., the financial hardship you might face if you returned to your country of origin, evidence that your ties to the U.S. are stronger than those to Korea, tax records and show of good character, as well as a clean criminal record.
If you need to apply for a green card but are hesitating because of a history of unlawful presence or using false information for your immigration status, it is recommended you try to figure out whether an I-601 waiver might be a possible route for you to take.
Law Offices of Gary J. Kim
3731 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 502Z
Los Angeles, CA 90010