Debra R. Shpigler Co., LPA
"LIFE" ACT CREATES NEW IMMIGRATION BENEFITS
The Legal Immigration and Family Equity Act of 2000 (the "LIFE" Act) creates new immigration benefits that may help thousands of people. The LIFE Act extends Section 245(i) of the Immigration & Nationality Act ("INA") by replacing the old eligibility cutoff date of January 14, 1998 with a new date of April 30, 2001.
This means that people who qualify for this new benefit have until April 30, 2001 to file a immigrant petition or application for labor certification to be eligible to adjust their status in the U.S.
Who is helped by this new law?
A person who is eligible for permanent residence based on a family relationship or job offer and who wants to adjust status without leaving the U.S. is helped by this new law. Without Section 245(i), most people who entered the U.S. without inspection, overstayed an admission, worked without authorization, entered as a crewman, were admitted in transit without a visa or otherwise acted in violation of their status would not be eligible to adjust their status in the U.S.
If a person is eligible for permanent residence but not eligible for adjustment of status, that person might still be able to obtain permanent residence by leaving the U.S. and obtaining a visa at a U.S. Consulate abroad. However, if that person had been unlawfully present in the U.S. for more than 180 days, he or she would be barred from reentering the U.S. for up to 3 years, and even up to 10 years.
Under Section 245(i), a person may stay in the U.S. to obtain a green card through adjustment of status and never trigger these bars. Since the 3 and 10 year bars are still in effect, however, it is very important that people who might be subject to these bars stay in the U.S. until they have adjusted their status.
What do you have to do to obtain these benefits?
To obtain the benefits created by LIFE, you must be the beneficiary of an immigrant visa petition (Form I-130 or Form I-140) or an application for labor certification filed by April 30, 2001. If the petition or application was filed after January 14, 1998, you must also be able to prove that you were physically present in the U.S. on December 21, 2000, the date of enactment.
It is important to recognize that LIFE is not an amnesty for all persons unlawfully in the U.S. It only applies to individuals who are otherwise eligible for an immigrant visa but who are barred from adjusting their status in the U.S. It allows such individuals to adjust their status in the U.S. instead of obtaining their visa abroad (and possibly triggering the 3 and 10 year bars).
It is also important to note that the new Section 245(i) provisions do not give a person work authorization, protection from deportation or any other protections.
This Immigration Bulletin is not intended as a substitute for professional legal advice.
Debra R. Shpigler Co., LPA is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.