United States immigration law is an extremely diverse and complex body of regulations that changes without warning. It is understandable that some visa or green card applicants might conceivably be left without options if their circumstances abruptly change. To help those that might be caught in this kind of situation, Congress passed the Legal Immigration Family Equity Act (LIFE Act) in 2000. While it may not fit the facts of your situation, it is worth investigating to see if it might.
Passage & Criteria
The LIFE Act was signed into law in December 2000, and its provisions allow some who might normally be ineligible to apply for a green card (referred to in official documents as lawful permanent resident or LPR status) to do so if the appropriate petition or labor certification has been filed for them before April 30, 2001. While this may seem outdated or irrelevant, in reality it still has quite a bit of relevance for potential immigrants from specific countries. For example, the priority date (the number that must come up before your visa may be granted) for certain categories of immigrants from India or Mexico is still listed as being in the 1990s—in other words, the queue to obtain a U.S. visa or green card is more than 20 years long.
The criteria, as laid out by United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), are fairly self-explanatory. You must meet at least one of the following:
Your petition or application must also have been appropriately filed, with all relevant fees paid and timeliness established.
Sometimes, even if a person’s qualifying petition or application is dropped or otherwise disqualified, he or she may still be eligible for relief under the LIFE Act, thanks to grandfather clauses. Generally, if the petition was approvable when it was filed, you should preserve your eligibility under the LIFE Act, assuming that the petition became null due to circumstances outside your control. For example, if your qualifying relative who filed the petition for you passes away, but the petition was filed in a timely manner and is otherwise acceptable, you should still be grandfathered into the Act.
It is important, however, to realize that having a grandfathered petition does not mean that you stop accruing unlawful presence, if you are indeed in the United States unlawfully. Only an application to adjust status will stop the clock on accruing such presence. Also, if you have more than 180 days’ unlawful presence accrued, and then you leave the country, you will trigger a bar due to inadmissibility, regardless of your eligibility under the LIFE Act.
Ask an Immigration Attorney
While the LIFE Act is not applicable to everyone’s situations, it may very well apply to yours, especially with the long waits for potential immigrants from populous countries like Mexico and India. If you have further questions, consulting a knowledgeable Chicago immigration attorney at Mevorah Law Offices LLC may help to provide you with answers. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.
Whether you are going through a divorce, injured in an accident, need to file a workers' compensation claim, charged with a crime, immigrating to the United States, or need to file for bankruptcy, Mevorah Law Offices LLC can help. Our trial lawyers have over 35 years of experience helping clients throughout Northern Illinois from five offices in Lombard, Bloomindale, Joliet, St. Charles, and Chicago.
Steven Mevorah has assembled experienced attorneys under one roof so that his clients need not search for a new attorney each time they need help. Mr. Mevorah has also established a wide network of additional attorneys so that his clients merely need to stop by Mevorah Law Offices LLC to find the attorney they need.
Our practice is focused on meeting your needs with flexible hours and locations to serve you: