What is 245(i)? How does it help undocumented individuals get a green card?

  Source:  USCIS

Source: USCIS

What is 245(i)?
245(i) is a provision in the Legal Immigration Family Equity Act (LIFE Act) which allows certain individuals who are present in the United States who would not normally qualify, to obtain a green card (permanent residence) regardless of:

  • The manner they entered the United States
  • Working in the United States without authorization
  • Failing to continuously maintain lawful status since entry.

This would allow undocumented immigrants who did not enter without a visa, worked in the United States without authorization, or overstayed their visa, to obtain a green card if they meet the following requirements:

  • Had a properly-filed and approvable immigrant petition (Form I-130 or I-140) or application for labor certification (Form ETA-750) filed on or before April 30, 2001;
  • If petition or application was filed between January 15, 1998 and April 30, 2001, applicant must have been physically present in the United States on December 21, 2000;
  • Currently the beneficiary of a qualifying immigrant petition (this could be the original petition or one filed after);
  • Have a visa immediately; and
  • Are admissible to the United States. 

How can it help undocumented individuals without a green card?
To qualify for a green card, the applicant must file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. You must also file Form I-485, Supplement A, with fees at the same time unless you meet an exception. Click here for more information from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
 
Many persons mistakenly believe that 245(i) constitutes amnesty, i.e., forgiveness of unlawful presence or other breaches of status. On the contrary, unlawful presence continues to accrue until an application for adjustment of status is filed (which stops accrual of unlawful presence). It is important to note that 245(i) does not protect an individual from deportation nor does having a grandfathered petition or application for labor certification place an individual in a period of stay (free from removal proceedings) authorized by the Secretary of Homeland Security. If you believe you qualify for this relief, we recommend seeking the advice of an experienced attorney.


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