AILA on Need for Clarification on Congressional Vote to End Section 245(i)

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For Immediate Release: November 25, 1997
Contact: Jami Deise (202) 216-2404

Urgent Clarification Needed in Wake of Virtual Elimination of Section 245(i)

Washington, D.C. Last week’s Congressional vote to virtually end Section 245(i), while allowing people on the brink of becoming permanent residents to adjust their status in this country, has resulted in widespread confusion and misinformation in immigrant communities nationwide, reports the American Immigration Lawyers Association. The provision, which allows those with existing U.S. family and business ties to remain here rather than return to their country of origin, can be used until January 14, 1998.

"Our members are being inundated with calls and reports from people who don’t understand what they need to qualify for permanent residence and for Section245(i)," said Jeanne A. Butterfield, AILA’s Executive Director. "With less than two months left for the Immigration and Naturalization Service to receive petitions and the Department of Labor to receive labor certification applications, it is imperative that correct information is reported and widely disseminated."

To be eligible under the deal passed by Congress, immigrants must have a sponsor file papers with the INS or the Department of Labor demonstrating their ability to be immigrants. For families, this means proving the close family relationship under which they can immigrate; for employees, in most cases the employer must prove that there are no American workers to fill the job for which it wants to hire the intending immigrant. Section 245(i) does not protect anyone here illegally from being deported, but only enables people to adjust their status and obtain their green cards in the United States when they are able to do so.

Before being virtually eliminated, for the past three years ago, Section 245(i) was designed to help people obtain a green card who had violated their status and already resided in the U.S. People eligible for this provision had to have significant family or business ties, were able to overcome grounds of inadmissibility, and paid a fine of $1,000 each. After January 14, 1998, these immigrants will find themselves between a rock and a hard place: They must return to their country of origin to adjust their status, but in doing so, they could be barred from reentry for three to ten years. But if they stay in the U.S., they stay illegally and risk deportation and a permanent bar on reentry.

"AILA members will be working hard over the next two months to distribute information about the changes in Section 245(i)," concluded Butterfield. "Our members look forward to working with lawmakers, community leaders, members of the media and advocates in immigrant communities nationwide on this pressing and important provision.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) represents over 5000 attorneys whose clients include tens of thousands of U.S. families, U.S. businesses and industries, foreign students, entertainers, athletes and asylum seekers, often on a pro bono basis. Founded in 1946, AILA is a nonpartisan, non-profit, Affiliated Organization of the American Bar Association.

© 1999, American Immigration Lawyers Association

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 97112558.