245i Protection is an exceptionally complex filing, for a number of reasons, and the rules and deadlines change often. It’s also important to keep in mind that filing for 245i Protection does not change your immigration status to that of a legal permanent resident – it only extends your eligibility to do so. Many have mistaken this concept.
To avoid disastrous misunderstandings, missed deadlines or eligibility conditions, we suggest contacting our firm to help you navigate the process. We can guide you through the filing, complete the forms for you and advise you on next steps in order to take advantage of the opportunity and obtain your legal status.
Section 245i of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides an opportunity for a limited number of undocumented immigrants to adjust their status and become eligible for permanent residency. This section was updated from the original Section 245i that was passed in 1994, which had a deadline date in 1998. Immigrants who missed that deadline could not adjust their status if they were out of status, entered the U.S. without inspection or otherwise violated the terms of their status. Entering without inspection (EWI) means that you entered the U.S. without going through customs or having your documentation checked by a border guard or INS official.
In 2000, President Clinton signed the LIFE Act that extended the deadline to April 30, 2001.
If you meet the following conditions, then you may take advantage of the amendment to Section 245i:
- You were physically present in the U.S. as of December 21, 2000
- You were the beneficiary or the derivative beneficiary of a labor certificate application or family-based immigrant or visa petition (form I-130) filed by April 30, 2001
- The immigrant petition or labor certificate application must have been approvable when filed
- Payment of a penalty of $1,000 along with filing Form I-485
The 2001 date highlights the massive backlog of visa availability under the annual quota system. If you do qualify under this amendment and the visa becomes available, then you can file for adjustment of status. You pay $1,000 for yourself and another $1,000 for each family member, though the fee is less for children under age 14,
You will be subject to a criminal background check and must obtain a clean health certificate. For immigrant families, each will need an Affidavit of Support to show they will not become public wards.
Be aware that Section 245i does not protect an alien from removal proceedings and does not grant the non-citizen an employment authorization. Should removal proceedings have been initiated against the immigrant, Section 245i is not a defense, and the individual cannot use this section to adjust his/her status.
Eligible individuals are still subject to the three-year and 10-year bans on re-entry. Any alien who is out of status for at least 180 days may not re-enter the US for three years. If out of status for more than 360 days, the bar is 10 years. For these reasons, aliens who can use Section 245i must remain in the U.S. until they obtain permanent residency status.
Because these regulations change, it’s important to contact an attorney who can help you with your immigration needs. Contact our office today to speak with one of our trained professionals.