THE LIFE ACT [Legal Immigration Family Equity Act ]

President Clinton signed a major immigration legislative package called the Legal Immigration Family Equity Act (LIFE) into law. Among the changes in the law are the following: K Visa
V Visa
245 i
LULAC
(1) Section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act will be available temporarily to people physically present in the United States on the date of enactment, December 21, 2000. The provision will allow a person who qualifies for permanent residency, but is ineligible to adjust status in the United States because of an immigration status violation, to pay a $1,000 penalty to continue processing in the United States. In order to be eligible for 245(i) adjustment under the LIFE Act, a person must be the beneficiary of an immigrant petition or application for labor certification filed on or before April 30, 2001. This is not amnesty for all persons unlawfully in the United States. This provision only applies to certain persons residing in the United States who, although otherwise eligible for an immigrant visa, are barred from adjusting their status in the United States. It allows such persons to adjust their status in the United States instead of acquiring their visa abroad.

(2) A new temporary "V" non-immigrant status will be available to the spouses and minor children of lawful permanent residents waiting more than three years for an immigrant visa based upon an immigrant petition filed on or before the enactment date of the LIFE Act. Persons granted "V" status would receive employment authorization and are protected from removal.

(3) A new temporary "K" visa status will be available to spouses of U.S. citizens (and their children) living abroad. The current K visa is only available to fiancées of U.S. citizens who are coming to the United States to get married within 90 days of arrival.

(4) Persons who filed before October 1, 2000, for class membership in one of three "late amnesty" lawsuits (CSS v. Meese, LULAC v. INS, and Zambrano v. INS) and who are eligible under the LIFE Act's amended legalization provisions may apply to adjust status during a 12-month period that begins once regulations are issued. Spouses and unmarried children of the class action claimants will be protected from certain categories of removal and will be eligible for work authorization if they entered the United States before December 1, 1988 and resided in the United States on that date.  Back to Top

245i     One of the provisions of the LIFE Act is the temporary reinstatement of Section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Section 245(i).  It is not an amnesty. To preserve eligibility to file for adjustment of status under Section 245(i), an individual 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, the beneficiary must be able to demonstrate physical presence in the United States on December 21, 2000.

An application for adjustment of status (Form I-485) based on Section 245(i) does not need to be filed before April 30, 2001. The application can be filed when an immigrant petition is approved and a visa number is available for the beneficiary in the appropriate preference category in accordance with the State Department’s monthly Visa Bulletin. The applicant must also pay the application fee and a $1,000 penalty fee.   Back to Top

 

K Visas for relatives of U.S. Citizens

To reduce the separations immediate family members of U.S. citizens may experience while waiting abroad for an immigrant visa, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) is implementing a new K nonimmigrant visa provision, which was published as an interim rule in today’s Federal Register.  

The rule expands the K visa status, currently available to fiancé(e)s of U.S. citizens, to include the spouse of a U.S. citizen, who is waiting abroad for an immigrant visa, and the spouse’s children.  This will allow them to enter the United States as nonimmigrants, re-unite with their family here, and then apply for immigrant status while in the country.  It is one of several immigration benefit provisions created by the Legal Immigration Family Equity Act (LIFE Act) enacted last December.

Under this new nonimmigrant visa classification, spouses of U.S. citizens may be granted K-3 nonimmigrant status, and the spouse’s unmarried children (under 21 years of age) may be granted K-4 nonimmigrant status.  Obtaining a K-3/4 visa is not required, however.  Spouses of U.S. citizens and their children may skip applying for a K visa and directly obtain their immigrant visa abroad from the Department of State.

For those who wish to take advantage of this new provision, to be eligible for a K-3 nonimmigrant visa, an applicant MUST:

  • Be the spouse of a U.S. citizen;
  • Have a Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) filed on his/her behalf by his/her U.S. citizen spouse, that is pending;
  • Have a Form I-129F (Petition for Alien Fiancé(e)) completed and submitted on his/her behalf by his/her U.S. citizen spouse to:  
    U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service
    P.O. Box 7216
    Chicago , IL 60680-7216
     

(Note: The INS must approve the Form I-129F before the beneficiary becomes eligible to apply for the K Visa from the U.S. consulate abroad.); and

  • Submit a completed Form I-693 (Medical Examination) when he/she appears at the consulate to apply for the K-3 visa from the Department of State.

To be eligible for a K-4 nonimmigrant visa, an applicant does not need a separate Form I-130 or a Form I-129F filed on his/her behalf.  The K-4 applicant MUST:

  • Be an unmarried child (under 21 years of age) of a K-3 visa applicant or holder;
  • Submit a completed Form I-693 (Medical Examination) when he/she appears at the consulate to apply for the K-4 visa.

The K-3/4 nonimmigrant classification does not provide immigrant status.  To obtain immigrant status --once in the United States -- a K-3 nonimmigrant must file a Form I-485 (Application for Adjustment to Permanent Residence).  A K-4 nonimmigrant must have a Form I-130 filed on his/her behalf by his/her U.S. citizen parent/stepparent and must file a Form I-485.  K-3/4 nonimmigrants will become lawful permanent residents and receive their Green Card when both the Form I-130 petition and their Form I-485 application have been approved.

K-3/4 non-immigrants may elect to apply for an immigrant visa instead of adjustment of status and may wait in the United States until they must appear at the consulate for their visa interview.

K-3/4 nonimmigrants may also apply for authorization to work in the United States while they wait for their immigrant status.  To do so, they must submit a completed Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization) along with the $100 application fee to the INS post office box (P.O. Box) address specified above for filing the Form I-129F. Back to Top

 

V Visa for spouse/child of U.S. Permanent Resident

The V Visa allows the spouse or child of a U.S. Lawful Permanent Resident to live and work in the United States in a nonimmigrant category. The spouse or child can remain in the United States while they wait until they are able to apply for lawful permanent residence status or for an immigrant visa, instead of having to wait outside the United States as the law previously required.

 A person may apply at a U.S. consulate abroad for a V-1 or V-2 visa or seek V-1 or V-2 nonimmigrant status while in the United States, if that person:

  • is lawfully married to a Lawful Permanent Resident of the United States (V-1), or is the unmarried child (under the age of 21) of a Lawful Permanent Resident (V-2); and
  • is the principal beneficiary of a relative petition (Form I-130) that was filed by the Lawful Permanent Resident spouse/parent on or before December 21, 2000; and
  • has been waiting at least 3 years since the petition was filed for status as a Lawful Permanent Resident because the petition is still pending, or has been approved but:
  • an immigrant visa is not yet available; or,
  • there is a pending application to adjust status or application for an immigrant visa.

The derivative child of a V-1 or V-2 nonimmigrant is eligible for a V-3 visa or for V-3 status.

If inside the United States, you must file the Form I-539, Application to Change Nonimmigrant Status, and Supplement A, and pay the application fee, or request a waiver of the application fee. All aliens 14 to 79 years of age who are filing Form I-539 to obtain V nonimmigrant status must submit a service fee of $70 for fingerprinting with their application. In addition to the instructions listed on the Form I-539, all aliens applying for V nonimmigrant status must follow the supplemental instructions found on Supplement A to Form I-539. Applicants must also undergo a medical examination and submit Form I-693, Medical Examination of Aliens Seeking Adjustment of Status, without the vaccination supplement.

Persons in V-1, V-2, or V-3 status are eligible to apply for a work permit. You should use form I-765 to apply for a work permit. Applicants should use the code “(a)(15)” as the answer to question 16 on Form I-765. You must send the appropriate fee for this form along with the application.

Applications should be submitted to:   

U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service
P.O. Box 7216
Chicago , IL 60680-7216
 

If you obtain a V nonimmigrant visa from a consular office abroad, you may be inspected and admitted to the United States in V nonimmigrant status after traveling abroad as long as you continue to possess a valid, unexpired V visa and remain eligible for V nonimmigrant status.

When you are granted V nonimmigrant status in the United States by the INS, you will need to obtain a V visa from a consular office abroad in order to be inspected and admitted to the United States as a V nonimmigrant after traveling abroad. (You will not need to apply for a V visa abroad in order to be admitted if you have traveled to contiguous territories or adjacent islands, have another (different category) valid visa, and are eligible for automatic revalidation.)  A V nonimmigrant with a pending Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, does not need to obtain advance parole prior to traveling abroad. This means that an alien in V nonimmigrant status may be readmitted as a nonimmigrant despite the fact that he or she is an intending immigrant with a filed application for adjustment of status or an immigrant visa. The departure of a V nonimmigrants with a, pending applications for adjustment of status is not considered to have abandoned the adjustment application upon departure.

Important Note: If you have accrued more than 180 days of unlawful presence in the United States (or 365 days), then travel abroad and are admitted or readmitted as a V nonimmigrant, you have triggered a 3- or 10-year bar to admission. The law exempts V nonimmigrants from the 3- (or 10-) year bar for purposes of admission to the United States as a V nonimmigrant but does not exempt them from the bar when they later apply for an immigrant visa or for adjustment to LPR status. That means that although you will be admitted or readmitted to the United States in V status, you may be unable to adjust status to LPR unless an individual waiver for that ground of inadmissibility is granted.             Back to Top