The Legal Immigration Family Equity (LIFE) Act, and its amendments to §245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), provides a path to permanent residence for immigrants that may be otherwise ineligible for adjustment of status to that of lawful permanent resident (LPR). Regardless of the manner in which an applicant entered the country, whether (s)he continuously maintained legal status, or whether (s)he worked in the United States without authorization, the Act may provide relief.
An applicant may qualify for adjustment of status to that of a LPR, if (s)he is the beneficiary of a non-frivolous immigrant visa petition (I-130, I-140, etc.), that was filed before April 30, 2001. The petition need not have been approved, but must have been eligible for approval at the time of filing. See INA §245(i)(1)(C). If the qualifying petition was filed after January 14, 1998, the beneficiary must have been physically present in the United States on December 21, 2000, the date the LIFE Act of 2000 was enacted. Id. Upon receipt of the Application to Register Permanent Resident or Adjust Status, I-485, and the required fees, the Service may adjust the applicant’s status to that of a LPR if: (1) there is a visa immediately available at the time the application is filed; and (2) the applicant is the beneficiary of an immigrant petition or labor certification filed by the above dates, or a subsequent petition under which (s)he wishes to adjust. The applicant must also be otherwise admissible to the U.S. for permanent residence. See INA §245(i)(2).
The Act provides USCIS with the ability to waive INA §212(a)(9)(A) [persons previously removed] and §212(a)(9)(C) [persons unlawfully present after entering without inspection—EWI], if the applicant meets all of the other specifications for adjustment enumerated in the Act and described above.
The LIFE Act also made several other amendments to the INA, the first of which is the creation of the V visa for the spouses and children of LPRs for whom an I-130 was filed on or before December 21, 2000, and the K-3 visa category for the souses and children of United States Citizens awaiting I-130 approval.
Summary: The LIFE Act of 2000 creates an opening for applicants looking to adjust status to that of lawful permanent resident that may otherwise be ineligible at this time. The applicant must be the beneficiary of a qualifying immigrant visa petition that was properly filed and approvable at the time of filing. The petition must have been filed prior to April 30, 2001. Through the LIFE Act, beneficiaries of such petitions could be eligible for adjustment of status regardless of the manner in which they entered the country, whether or not they worked in the United States without authorization, and whether or not they failed to continuously maintain lawful status since entering the country. The Act, however, should not be seen as blanket amnesty, as it does not waive all grounds of inadmissibility and does not guarantee forgiveness of the grounds listed above.