\ afm \ Adjudicator's Field Manual - Redacted Public Version \ Chapter 24 Legalization. \ 24.5 Legalization Provisions of the LIFE Act (LIFE Legalization).
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24.5 Legalization Provisions of the LIFE Act (LIFE Legalization).
On December 21, 2000, the Legal Immigration Family Equity (LIFE) Act, Pub. L. 106-553, and the LIFE Act Amendments, Pub. L. 106-554, were passed. Section 1104 of the LIFE Act and its amendments (LIFE Legalization) allow eligible aliens who have been involved in certain long-standing legalization litigation to apply for adjustment of status to become LPRs under a modified version of
of the Act. Implementation of the LIFE Legalization program started on June 1, 2001 with the publication of the interim rules (66 Federal Register 29661). Final rules were published on June 4, 2002 (67 FR 38341).
The purpose of the LIFE Legalization provisions was to remedy 3 long- standing class action lawsuits
Catholic Social Services, Inc. v. Meese
, vacated sub nom.
Reno v. Catholic Social Services, Inc
., 509 U.S. 43 (1993)
; League of United Latin American Citizens v. INS
, vacated sub nom.
Reno v. Catholic Social Services, Inc.
, 509 U.S. 43 (1993); and
Zambrano v. INS
, vacated, 509 U.S. 918 (1993)) brought against INS arising from the 1986 IRCA legalization program. It is estimated that there are approximately 200,000 long-term U.S. residents who are believed to be eligible for the LIFE Legalization program. INS launched a national public outreach campaign in January 2002 to publicize the program, with a concentrated effort in Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and New York City.
Any alien who filed a written claim for class membership in one of the 3 lawsuits with the AG before October 1, 2000, is eligible to apply for adjustment of status to LPR under the LIFE Legalization program during the application period. This also includes a spouse or child as defined at
of the Act of the alien who was such as of the date the alien alleges that he or she attempted to file or was discouraged from filing an application for legalization during the original application period.
LIFE Legalization applicants must have entered the U.S. before January 1, 1982, and resided continuously in the U.S. in an unlawful status since that date through May 4, 1988. They must have been continuously physically present in the U.S. during the final 18 months of this period, from November 6, 1986 until May 4, 1988.
The exclusion grounds that are not applicable to LIFE Legalization applicants are paragraphs (5) (requirement for labor certification) and (7)(A) (immigrant visa requirement) of
of the Act. Applicants who were not admissible to the United States for other grounds could file Form I-690,
Application for Waiver of Grounds of Excludability
, for all grounds contained in section 212(a) of the Act, except for those offenses defined in paragraphs (2)(A) and (2)(B) (relating to criminals); paragraph (4) (relating to aliens likely to become public charges); paragraph (2)(C) (relating to drug offenses, except for a single offense of simple possession of marijuana, 30 grams or less); and paragraph (3) (security related grounds, except for subparagraph (3)). A felony conviction or conviction of three or more misdemeanors renders the applicant ineligi
ble under LIFE Legalization.
Basic Citizenship Skills
LIFE Legalization applicants must show that they have a minimal understanding of ordinary English and a knowledge or understanding of the history and government of the United States, or that they are satisfactorily pursuing a course of study (recognized by the Attorney General) to achieve an understanding of English and U.S. history and government.
The filing period for LIFE Legalization applications is from June 1, 2001 through June 4, 2003. Applicants must file a completed Form I-485,
Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
, along with proof of identity, and 2 photographs. A completed Form G-325A,
Biographic Information Sheet
, is required if the applicant is between the ages of 14 and 79. Furthermore, applicants between the ages of 14 and 79 are required to submit a fingerprinting fee. For all applicants, a Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination, must be completed by a certified civil surgeon. Specific instructions for LIFE Legalization applicants are on Form I-485 Supplement D,
LIFE Legalization Supplement to Form I-485 Instructions
Where to File
Completed applications, supporting documents and appropriate fees must be postmarked before midnight, June 4, 2003, and sent to INS, P.O. Box 7219, Chicago, IL 60680-7219. This Chicago address was simply a lockbox where applications and fees were receipted in, after which the applications were forwarded to the National Benefits Center for adjudication.
The applicant must pay the filing fees for the Form I-485 and fingerprinting in effect at the time of filing (see
8 CFR 103.7
Work Authorization (EAD)
Applicants who applied for class membership before October 1, 2000, in the three legalization lawsuits will be entitled to work authorization. These individuals may obtain authorization to work while their applications are pending by submitting a completed Form
Application for Work Authorization
, with the appropriate fee, along with their Form I-485 to the same Chicago P.O. Box address.
Filing from Abroad
Individuals residing outside the U.S. can apply for LIFE Legalization by following the same instructions. Furthermore, they can also apply for work authorization. However, an employment authorization document is not an immigration document for admission into the U.S.
Applicants who wish to travel abroad while their LIFE Legalization is pending are eligible to mail a completed Form I-131,
Application for Travel Document
, to the same Chicago P.O. Box address. In urgent humanitarian situations, applicants can file a completed Form I-131 with their local USCIS District Office. As with any other parole requests, the decision on whether to grant advance parole is discretionary and determined on a case-by-case analysis. If the request for advance parole is granted, the applicant is permitted to return to the U.S. after traveling abroad in accordance with any terms and conditions placed on the advance parole document. Individual
s who are subject to a final order of removal, deportation or exclusion and who depart the U.S. are subject to certain bars to obtaining LIFE Legalization unless they apply for and obtain approval of Form I-212,
Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission after Deportation or Removal
, prior to their departure from the U.S.
LIFE Legalization provides eligible applicants with work authorization and a stay of removal or deportation proceedings or orders, while their adjustment applications are pending.
The evidence supplied with the application is first reviewed by an officer at the National Benefits Center (NBC) to establish that the applicant meets the basic qualifying criteria to apply: he or she is an eligible alien, and he or she is not statutorily ineligible due to a felony conviction or convictions of three or more misdemeanors. If the applicant passes the preliminary processing at NBC, the application is forwarded to the District Office with jurisdiction over the applicant’s residence for an inter
view and adjudication of the remaining eligibility requirements (e.g., continuous residence, physical presence, admissibility, citizenship skills, etc.). If more than one A-file exists for an applicant, files should be consolidated prior to forwarding. If filed by the applicant, EAD and advance parole requests may be processed after such applicant passes the preliminary processing. If the applicant lacks sufficient evidence to pass the preliminary processing, a Notice of Intent to Deny should be issued.
The alien must prove that he or she (or spouse or child of such an alien) filed a written claim for class membership in
with the AG before October 1, 2000.
(A) A number of written forms were used for this (e.g., Form I-687, pre-printed forms not produced by INS, affidavits, etc.). The form is considered to be a claim for class membership if it contains the name of an alien who alleges that he/she was “front-desked” or “merely discouraged” from filing an application during the 1986 IRCA application period on the basis of allegations presented in the three lawsuits. If the applicant has INS or USCIS records, check in all the records and files for any evidence of
written claim for class membership. It is noted that INS recorded only one name per application for class membership so check to see if it may contain names of family members who would be able to qualify as principal applicants under LIFE Legalization.
(B) INS recorded the class action claims in USCIS using the COA codes CS, LU, and ZM, thus it is likely that the applicant will have such a code in USCIS. Another possible USCIS code is PEN.
(C) An applicant who was the child or spouse of a principal alien between May 5, 1987 and May 4, 1988, and whose principal alien filed a written application for class membership before October 1, 2000, is deemed to have filed an application for class membership.
A preliminary criminal records check should be performed on the applicant to see whether he/she has a felony conviction or conviction of three or more misdemeanors. If so, this would render the applicant statutorily ineligible to apply for LIFE Legalization.
Scheduling of interviews is determined by the District Office. The District Office should review the file to determine if a Request for Evidence needs to be mailed with the interview notice. Applicants may submit additional evidence prior to or at the time of the interview.
During the interview and adjudication of a LIFE Legalization application, an eligible alien must establish that he or she:
(1) Properly filed an application for adjustment pursuant to LIFE Legalization;
(2) Filed a written claim for class membership with the Attorney General before October 1, 2000;
(3) Entered the U.S. before January 1, 1982, and thereafter resided in continuous unlawful status since such date through May 4, 1988;
(4) Was continuously physically present in the U.S. from November 6, 1986 through May 4, 1988;
(5) Is admissible to the U.S.;
(6) Has not been convicted of a felony or three misdemeanors;
(7) Has never assisted in the persecution of any person or persons on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political group; and
(8) Possesses basic citizenship skills or is satisfactorily pursuing a course of study to achieve these basic citizenship skills.
Entered the U.S. Before January 1, 1982, and Thereafter Resided in Continuous Unlawful Status since Such Date Through May 4, 1988
Carefully check the evidence submitted to establish that the applicant entered the U.S. before January 1, 1982 either as a nonimmigrant or without inspection. If during this period, the alien was outside the U.S. under a deportation order, this breaks his/her continuous residence.
Was Continuously Physically Present in the U.S. from November 6, 1986, Through May 4, 1988
Evidence of physical presence may consist of any documentation issued by any governmental or non-governmental authority, provided it has the applicant’s name, dated at time of issuance, has signature, seal, or other authenticating instrument of the authorized representative of the issuing authority.
Departures from the U.S. Between November 6, 1986, and May 4, 1988
Any departure during this time must have been brief, casual and innocent so as to not interrupt continuous physical presence. Failure of an alien to have advance parole should not be considered.
Criminal Convictions and Inadmissibility
No Waivers Allowed
No waivers are permitted and the application may be denied without an interview if the record of proceeding contains court documents evidencing the following conviction(s):
felony, three or more misdemeanors, persecution of others, crime involving moral turpitude (
of the Act),
of the Act have not been waived for LIFE Legalization applicants but they may apply for a waiver of those grounds on Form I-690,
Application for Waiver of Excludability
LIFE Legalization applicants are not subject to unlawful presence ground of inadmissibility pursuant to
of the Act as this section has been waived for these applicants.
The “Special Rule” should be applied in LIFE Legalization cases which allows INS or USCIS to look retrospectively at an alien’s employment history when determining whether he/she is prospectively likely to become a public charge. Accordingly, INS and USCIS will take into account an alien’s employment history in the U.S., to include the period prior to the 1986 advent of employer sanctions.
If the applicant has a high school diploma, GED, or certification from a state-recognized, accredited learning institution, he/she may not have to pass the citizenship test. This requirement may be waived for applicants age 65 or older, or for medical reasons.
Consideration of the LIFE Legalization Application under IRCA
An applicant who has established that he/she registered for class membership as required but otherwise does not qualify for adjustment under LIFE Legalization, must be given consideration to whether he/she could be granted temporary resident status under IRCA § 201. For instance, under IRCA, an alien need not show residence or presence after the application was filed. In such an adjudication, the “date of filing the application” is deemed to be the date the applicant establishes that he/she was front-desked
or discouraged from filing. If the applicant has established eligibility for adjustment to temporary resident status, the LIFE Legalization application shall be deemed converted to an application for temporary residence under the pre-LIFE Act provisions of
of the Act.
Failure to Appear
If the applicant fails to appear for the first scheduled interview, check to ensure the notice was sent to the last known address of record. 30 days after the first no-show, a second interview notice should be sent, which should inform the applicant that failure to appear will result in the denial of the application.
If the application is approved, the applicant should receive temporary evidence of LPR status. The COA for applicants adjusting to LPR status under LIFE Legalization is
. Upon approval, update CLAIMS and Copies 1 and 3 of Form I-181 to reflect date, place, and COA (Copy 1 stays in A-file, send A-file to NRC)(send Copy 3 to MSC). If biometric data has not been received, MSC will refer the applicant for an appointment at an ASC.
Notice of Intent to Deny (NITD)
When an adverse decision is proposed,
will notify the applicant of its intent to deny and the basis for denial. The applicant has 30 days to respond to the NITD.
The Notice of Denial should state the reasons for the denial and inform the applicant of appeal rights. If inconsistencies are found between information submitted with the LIFE Legalization application and information previously furnished by the alien to INS, the alien must be given the opportunity to explain these discrepancies or rebut any adverse information. The denial notice should also advise the applicant that if he/she fails to file an appeal from the decision, the notice of denial will serve as a f
inal notice of ineligibility. Unless the alien was previously subject to a final removal order, the denial notice will not order the applicant to depart the U.S. and Form I-291 will not contain language to that effect. Furthermore, no NTA will be issued pursuant to a denied LIFE Legalization application.
The applicant is entitled to file an appeal on Form I-290B,
Notice of Appeal to the Administrative Appeals Unit (AAU)
, with the required fee. The appeal must be filed with the office that rendered the denial decision. Appeals must be filed within 30 or 60 days after service of NOD depending on whether the applicant is residing in or outside the U.S. Upon receipt of the appeal, the administrative record should be forwarded to the AAO for review and decision. Place a copy of the record, decision, and appeal into a work (W) file and keep that at the District Office that issued the denial until the AAO completes the case. Exc
ept where the LIFE Legalization application is denied for failure to prove class membership application in
, or where the applicant failed to present a prima facie application, employment authorization is granted until a final decision has been rendered on appeal or until the end of the appeal period if no appeal is filed. After exhaustion of an appeal, an alien who believes that the grounds for denial have been overcome may submit another LIFE Legalization application with fee as long as the application period is still open.
Motions to Reopen/Reconsider
Motions to reopen or reconsider filed by the applicant or his/her attorney or representative will not be considered. However, the Director who decided an application may reopen and reconsider an an approval or denial where appropriate.
Aliens in Removal Proceedings
Jurisdiction over all LIFE Legalization claims rests with INS or USCIS. Any alien currently in proceedings before the immigration judge (IJ) or Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) who is prima facie eligible for LIFE Legalization may file an application with INS or USCIS. The alien must request or petition the IJ or BIA to administratively close proceedings. The INS or USCIS counsel must consent before the proceedings can be administratively closed. The INS or USCIS counsel will consent where the alien is pr
ima facie eligible and has filed a LIFE Legalization application with INS or USCIS. If the LIFE Legalization is approved, the proceedings previously administratively closed will be automatically terminated. If the LIFE Legalization is denied, the proceedings will be re-calendared. Therefore, if an application is denied and the alien was in removal proceedings, district counsel should be notified when no appeal is filed within the requisite deadline.
Aliens with Final Orders or Removal, Deportation or Exclusion
If an alien is the subject of a final order, he/she may still file a LIFE Legalization application with INS or USCIS. The filing of the application automatically stays this order until a final decision is made on the application. However, the alien may be removed on certain criminal grounds that make him/her ineligible under LIFE Legalization. Therefore, if an application is denied and the alien was subject to a final order, district counsel should be notified if no appeal is filed within the requisite dead
line. It is noted that
of the Act (providing for the reinstatement of a removal order against any alien who illegally re-enters the U.S. after having been removed or after having departed voluntarily under an order of removal) does not apply to an alien adjusting under LIFE Legalization.
INS and USCIS may not use or disclose information in a legalization application or its accompanying evidence except to adjudicate the application itself, or for certain law enforcement functions and fraud proceedings. If the legalization application is granted, however, and the alien later files an immigrant visa petition or other status petition under
of the Act, INS or USCIS may use information in the legalization file in adjudicating the immigrant visa petition. This also applies to adjudicating a later naturalization application. Consult with district counsel when contemplating any use or disclosure of this information.