Undocumented immigrants who have lived in California for a year or longer are normally subject to deportation and removal proceedings and a 10-year bar on reentry into the U.S. In some cases, it is possible for people to secure waivers of inadmissibility so that they can try to adjust their status to remain in the U.S. lawfully. To be eligible for a waiver, the immigrant must qualify for an extreme hardship waiver.

Eligibility for an extreme hardship waiver of inadmissibility does not depend on hardships that the undocumented immigrants might experience. Instead, the grounds are based on the extreme hardships that their immediate family members who are lawful U.S. citizens or permanent residents would face if the undocumented immigrants are deported or barred from reentering the U.S. for 10 years.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service recognizes four grounds of potential eligibility for extreme hardship waivers. One is if the immediate relative has a major medical condition that prevents safe travel outside of the U.S. and requires the immigrant to provide care for him or her, and the immigrant’s home country is involved in an active war. The second is if the immediate relative’s serious medical condition makes traveling abroad difficult, and the immigrant’s home country is on the brink of major political upheaval. The third is if the immediate relative has a significant medical condition that makes traveling abroad difficult, and the immigrant’s home country has a very poor economy. Lastly, a waiver may be granted if the immediate relative would not be able to pay his or her debts if he or she moved abroad, and the relative’s parents are aging.

The eligibility grounds are listed in order of decreasing strength. People who have lived in the U.S. for more than one year as undocumented immigrants might want to consult with experienced immigration law attorneys. The lawyers may assess whether a person might be eligible for extreme hardship waivers or if other types of waivers are available.