Legal Immigration and Family Equity Act ("L.I.F.E." Act)

FINAL SUMMARY


 

REAUTHORIZES SECTION 245(i) UNTIL APRIL 30, 2001

Under the LIFE Act, the “grandfather” clause of Section 245(i) is extended from January 14, 1998 until April 30, 2001. As a result, any beneficiary of an immigrant visa petition or labor certification application filed before April 30, 2001 will be able to apply for adjustment of status under Section 245(i) if necessary.  However, for any applications filed after January 14, 1998 (but before April 30, 2001) the applicant must prove they were physically present in the United States on the date of the enactment of the LIFE Act (December 21, 2000) in order to be eligible for Section 245(i) adjustment of status.

What Is Section 245 of the Act?

Section 245 of the Act (8 U.S.C. 1255) allows the Attorney General, in his discretion, to adjust the status of an alien who has an immigrant visa immediately available to that of a lawful permanent resident (LPR) while the alien remains in the United States in lieu of applying for an immigrant visa at a U.S. consular office abroad, if certain conditions are met. An alien must have been inspected and admitted or paroled, be eligible for an immigrant visa and admissible for permanent residence and, with some exceptions, have maintained lawful nonimmigrant status. The alien must not have engaged in unauthorized employment.

What Is Section 245(i) of the Act?

Section 245(i) of the Act (8 U.S.C. 1255(i)) allows certain aliens with an immigrant visa immediately available to them to apply to adjust status upon payment of a $1,000 surcharge, even though the alien entered the United States without inspection or does not meet the maintenance of status and authorized employment requirements of section 245(c) of the Act (8 U.S.C. 1255(c)). Section 245(i) of the Act does not excuse any grounds of inadmissibility under section 212(a) of the Act (8 U.S.C. 1182(a)).

Note: Section 245(i) is NOT an amnesty provision, but simply designed to permit individuals to adjust their immigration status in the United States instead of having to return to their home countries and seek an immigrant visa through a consulate, if: (1) an immigrant visa petition is immediately available, already approved and current, or will be upon the filing (e.g., via a USC spouse) of the Application for Adjustment of Status (I-485); (2) an individual entered the United States unlawfully or is attempting to adjust status via a preference category (e.g., LPR spouse, USC brother/sister, son/daughter over 21 of USC (married/unmarried) and violated the conditions of status or is "out-of-status;" and (3) submits a penalty/fine of one thousand dollars ($1000).

CREATES A NEW TEMPORARY VISA ("V" Visa) FOR SPOUSES AND MINOR CHILDREN OF LEGAL PERMANENT RESIDENTS AWAITING AN IMMIGRANT VISA

In order to address the severe backlogs on the availability of visas for families, the LIFE Act provides a remedy for the spouses and minor children of legal permanent residents. Under current law, because these individuals are intending immigrants, there is no way for them to legally come to the United States, even for a short visit. By creating a new “V” visa, the law grants some family members a legal status and work authorization in the United States.

CREATES A NEW TEMPORARY STATUS ("K" Visa) FOR SPOUSES OF U.S. CITIZENS AWAITING AN IMMIGRANT VISA

In order to address the severe backlogs on the processing of petitions for family members, the LIFE Act creates a remedy for the spouses of United States citizens who are outside of the United States and waiting for the approval of an immigrant petition.  Any minor children who are seeking to accompany the spouse are also provided protection.  By expanding the eligibility for a K visa, the new law will allow the spouse of a U.S. citizen to enter the United States and obtain work authorization while waiting for the petition to be approved.

ALLOWS FOR THE ADJUSTMENT OF STATUS OF CERTAIN LATE LEGALIZATION (§ 245A, 8 U.S.C. § 1255a) CLASS MEMBERS ONLY

Who Is Eligible for Relief:

Relief Granted Under the Law:

GRANTS PROTECTION FROM DEPORTATION AND WORK AUTHORIZATION TO THE SPOUSES AND CHILDREN OF LATE LEGALIZATION APPLICANTS

Consistent with laws passed in 1990 to protect the family of legalization applicants who were already in the United States, the LIFE Act prevents the deportation of the spouses and minor children of a person who is applying for late legalization under the new law. Also consistent with prior laws, these family members are eligible for work authorization

Who Is Eligible for Relief: To be eligible for benefits a person must prove that he or she is:

Relief Granted Under the Law:

PROVIDES CERTAIN WAIVERS AND PROTECTIONS AGAINST DEPORTATION FOR APPLICANTS UNDER NACARA AND HRIFA

Waiver of certain grounds of inadmissibility: In applications for adjustment of status under NACARA and HRIFA, the Attorney General may waive certain grounds of inadmissibility relating to re-entry after a previous order of deportation or removal (§212(a)(9)(A) and (C)). 

Protection from reinstatement of prior orders of deportation or removal: In applications for adjustment of status, for suspension of deportation, or for cancellation of removal as provided by NACARA or HRIFA, the Attorney General is prohibited from reinstating previous orders of removal or deportation in order to prevent those applications from being filed (§241(a)(5) shall not apply).

Availability of Motions to Reopen: NACARA and HRIFA applicants who become eligible to apply for adjustment of status, suspension of deportation, or cancellation of removal as a result of the changes contained in the LIFE Act will be able to file one Motion to Reopen any exclusion, deportation, or removal proceedings in order to apply for an adjustment of status under the Act.  This right to file a Motion to Reopen exists notwithstanding any time and numerical limitations otherwise imposed under the Immigration and Nationality Act