What is a Hardship Waiver?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 14 July 2019
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When a person is granted an exception to a rule because of some type of extenuating circumstances, this may be called a hardship waiver. Often, the term is used in situations in which immigrants seek exceptions to the rules regarding returning to their own countries before applying for permanent residency. In other cases, however, the term may be used to indicate a situation in which a person is granted an extension on a bill or freed from responsibility because of some type of hardship. Generally, hardship waivers are granted because of medical or psychological issues as well as those related to finances and careers.

One example of a situation in which a hardship waiver may be granted involves immigration. Some countries have cultural exchange programs through which foreign individuals can gain a visa that allows them to stay in a foreign country for a specific period of time. After this time is up, they may be required to return to their home countries and live there for a significant period of time before they can apply for permanent residency in the foreign country. In some cases, however, a person may be able to obtain a waiver that allows him to remain in the foreign country without returning to his home country for the typically required time period.


In most cases, the immigrant type of hardship waiver is granted when requiring the immigrant to return to his home country would cause a citizen or permanent resident of the foreign country to suffer some type of hardship. For example, if an immigrant’s time in country A is up, he is required to return to country B, which would be his home country. If he has a wife or child who is a citizen or resident of country A, however, his return may cause hardship for this person. In such a case, he may apply for a hardship waiver, which would waive the requirements for him to live in country B again before applying for permanent residency with country A.

There are different types of situations that may qualify a person for a hardship waiver. For example, a person may apply for an immigration-related hardship waiver because of medical, economic, or career issues. He may also apply because of political and psychological issues. No matter what the reason for the hardship, however, it must adversely affect the permanent resident or citizen of the country in which the foreigner is hoping to remain. If the immigrant's return to his country does not significantly affect a citizen or resident who is a member of his family, he may not be eligible for a waiver.

Hardship waivers may also be granted in situations in which a person is unable to fulfill some type of responsibility. For example, a college may grant waivers that allow a student to avoid paying increased tuition and fees. This type of hardship waiver may be granted if a student’s parent dies, loses a job, or gets divorced and this situation affects the student’s ability to pay. Such a hardship waiver may also be granted if the student has excessive medical expenses that make it difficult to pay tuition.


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Should I sign a waiver from work that limits my responsibilities?

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