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INS Announces HRIFA Procedures

Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 99051341 (posted May. 13, 1999)"

May 11, 1999

Interim Rule to Take Effect June 11

WASHINGTON - The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) announced today the procedures by which eligible Haitians may file for benefits under the Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act (HRIFA). The procedures, which implement section 902 of HRIFA, will be published as an interim rule in the Federal Register on May 12 and will take effect June 11, 1999.

Signed into law on October 21, 1998, HRIFA provides immigration benefits and relief from deportation to certain Haitian nationals. HRIFA allows eligible Haitians to obtain lawful permanent residence (LPR) status–the right to live and work in the United States permanently–without applying for an immigrant visa at a U.S. consular office overseas, and waives many of the usual requirements for this benefit. INS estimates that approximately 50,000 Haitians are eligible for HRIFA benefits.

"The Clinton Administration is committed to providing fair and accessible procedures for adjustment of status for Haitians who suffered under an oppressive regime and came to the United States in the early 1990s," said INS Commissioner Doris Meissner. "We welcome them to the American immigrant family and look forward to implementing the new regulations."

Eligibility

To be eligible for these benefits, Haitians must belong to one of the five classes specified in section 902 (b) of HRIFA; must have been physically present in the United States on December 31, 1995; must have remained continuously physically present in the United States since December 31, 1995; and must not be inadmissible to the United States under any grounds of inadmissibility for which HRIFA does not specifically provide an exception. Certain Haitian dependents are also eligible.

The classes described in section 902(b) include any Haitian national who:

  • Filed for asylum before December 31, 1995;
  • Was paroled into the United States before December 31, 1995, after having been identified as having a credible fear of persecution, or paroled for emergency reasons or reasons deemed strictly in the public interest; and
  • Was a child (i.e., unmarried and under 21) at the time of their arrival and on December 31,1995; and:

— Arrived without parents and has remained in the United States without parents; or

— Became orphaned after arriving in the United States; or

— Was abandoned by their parents or guardians prior to April 1, 1998, and has remained abandoned.

"Continuously physically present" is defined as no more than a total of 180 days outside the United States between December 31, 1995, and the date the HRIFA adjustment application is granted unless the applicant received an Advanced Authorization for Parole or the absence occurred under certain circumstances.

Principal HRIFA beneficiaries must properly file their applications on or before March 31, 2000. There is no application deadline for dependents.

Application Procedures

Applicants for HRIFA benefits must determine which one of the following categories applies to them. These categories define where applicants must submit their applications.

Never in Proceedings: Applicants who have never been in exclusion, deportation or removal proceedings must submit their application and supporting documentation to INS.

Administratively Closed Cases: Applicants whose cases were administratively closed by the Immigration Court or the Board must submit their application and supporting documentation to the INS.

Final Orders: Applicants who are already subject to a final order of exclusion, deportation or removal, and who have never filed an application for adjustment of status pursuant to HRIFA with the Immigration Court, must file their application and supporting documentation to INS. Applicants with final orders, who file a motion to reopen after May 12, must also file with INS.

Immigration Court Proceedings: Applicants in exclusion, deportation or removal proceedings, or applicants who have a motion to reopen or reconsider pending prior to May 12, 1999, before the Immigration Court should submit their application and supporting documentation to the Immigration Court with jurisdiction over their proceeding.

Board of Immigration Appeals Proceedings: Applicants in exclusion, deportation or removal proceedings, or applicants who have a motion to reopen or reconsider pending before May 12, 1999, before the Board of Immigration Appeals shall have their cases remanded to the Immigration Court. Once remanded, Immigration Courts will set a hearing date. Applications and supporting documentation should be submitted to the Immigration Court with jurisdiction over the remand. If the applicant’s case has not been remanded by the Board, the application and supporting documentation should be submitted to the Board as well as a request to remand.

To file with INS:

Applicants must submit their application (Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status), supporting documents and fee ($220 or $160 for those under 14 ) by mail to USINS Nebraska Service Center, P.O. Box 87245, Lincoln, NE 68501-7245. If the applicant is 14 years of age or older, a $25 fee to cover the cost of fingerprinting must also be submitted.

• To File with the Immigration Court or Board

Applicants must submit their application, supporting documentation and an application fee receipt to the Immigration Court with jurisdiction over their case. If the Board has not remanded the case to the Immigration Court, applicants should submit the documents to the Board. Filing and fingerprinting fees should be submitted to INS.

Applicants who are unable to pay the filing fee may request a fee waiver from the INS Service Center Director. Information on how to apply to the INS for a fee waiver can be found on the Internet at www.uscis.gov or by contacting local INS offices.

Work Authorization

Applicants wishing to obtain or renew employment authorization should file a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, with INS.

INS is not required to authorize employment to a HRIFA applicant until their HRIFA adjustment application has been pending for more than 180 days. However, INS will authorize employment for those applicants whose applications have been pending less than 180 days where INS records contain evidence that supports the applicants claim of HRIFA eligibility (e.g., the applicant is a Haitian national who had applied for asylum, or was paroled into the United States prior to December 31, 1995.)

Travel

Applicants planning to leave the United States before a decision is made on their application must provide INS with advance notice of their travel plans in order to obtain permission to re-enter the country and avoid the possibility of having their application terminated or denied. Applicants who plan to leave must file a Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, to obtain from INS a Form I-512, Authorization for Parole of an Aliens into the United States, from INS. Once the interim rule takes effect on June 11, 1999, an I-512 will be issued only to HRIFA eligible aliens who have filed for adjustment of status.

Haitian nationals who have received a final order of exclusion, deportation or removal should NOT leave the United States if they want to apply for benefits under HRIFA. Aliens under removal orders who leave the country are considered to be self-deported and cannot apply for adjustment, even if they had obtained advance parole before departure. Self deported aliens who want to apply for adjustment of status must first apply for and receive permission to reapply for admission to the United States (INS Form I-212).

- INS -

Last Modified 5/12/99