Phase-out of the Nicaraguan Review Program



The Department of Justice (DOJ) has discontinued a special program established in 1987 to review every final order of deportation involving a Nicaraguan national. The Nicaraguan Review Program (NRP) was initiated by Attorney General Edwin Meese in July 1987 to provide an extra level of review by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) for Nicaraguans whose applications for asylum had been denied.

Three years after the transition to a democratically elected government, Attorney General Janet Reno has determined that the political situation in Nicaragua and the United States government's asylum adjudications procedures have improved to such an extent that it is no longer necessary to continue the NRP. INS has issued a policy wire notifying its field offices that Nicaraguans are no longer subject to these special review procedures, and is providing guidance to its field offices on the phase out process for the program. Every effort has been made to phase out the program in a fair, orderly, and humane manner.


  • All Nicaraguans who have received final orders of deportation, or who are in or are otherwise subject to deportation hearings will be affected by this change. Under the NRP, a final order of deportation would have been subject to an automatic review at INS Headquarters. With the discontinuation of the NRP, Nicaraguans are now subject to the same procedures and appeals of asylum adjudication as individuals from other countries.
  • INS estimates that there are 33,914 Nicaraguans who are currently in deportation or exclusion proceedings, 10,950 have final orders of deportation.
  • The cases of all Nicaraguans will be handled individually under normal immigration procedures. Those Nicaraguan nationals who were not granted asylum but have resided in the United States for an extended period of time and whose deportation would pose an extreme hardship are entitled to apply for relief under the same criteria as aliens of all nationalities. Moreover, those who fear persecution upon their return to Nicaraguan are provided a fair opportunity to present a claim for asylum.
  • Nicaraguans will not be targeted for deportation as a group. There will be no mass roundups or large scale expulsions of Nicaraguans from the United States. They will be treated no differently under the law than are nationals from any other country.
  • Nicaraguan nationals, including those effected by the termination of the NRP, may be eligible for suspension of deportation if they:
    • have been present in the United States for at least 7 years; and
    • are persons of good moral character; and
    • are persons of whose deportation would pose an extreme hardship to themselves or to a spouse, parent, or child who is either a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident.
  • To apply for suspension of deportation, and alien with a final order of deportation must also file a motion to reopen their case.
    • To apply for suspension of deportation, individuals must submit Form I-256A along with a fee of $100 to his/her nearest INS office.
    • To file a motion to reopen their deportation cases, individuals must submit a request in writing (there is no form) along with a fee of $110 to their nearest INS office. Although the motion is filed through the INS office, the request will be considered and the decision rendered by an Immigration Judge or the Board of Immigration Appeal.
    • These steps must take place concurrently.
  • Nicaraguan nationals who cannot return to Nicaraguan because of a well founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion may apply for asylum under U.S. law.
  • Those Nicaraguans holding final orders of deportation who are ineligible for suspension of deportation and for whom no other relief is available under the Immigration and Nationality Act should depart from the United States.
  • Nicaraguans nationals with final deportation orders will no longer have their work authorization extended automatically as was done under the NRP.
  • Nicaraguan nationals affected by the termination of the NRP who file to reopen their deportation cases based upon a request for suspension of deportation may also apply for work authorization from INS. This policy will be in effect for a period of one year and will end in June of 1996.
    • Individuals may apply for work authorization by filing a "Request for Employment Authorization", Form I-765, along with a fee of $70 and following the instructions on the form. Applications for work authorization must include evidence that the motion to reopen their deportation case was filed along with a copy of the application for suspension of deportation.
    • In these cases, work authorization may be granted by INS upon a finding that the alien has met the threshold requirements to apply for suspension of deportation, including the physical presence requirement, which is generally 7 years (as specified above.)
    • However, the granting of work authorization does not guarantee that suspension of deportation will be granted. Suspension of deportation can only be granted by an Immigration Judge.
  • Those Nicaraguan nationals who filed asylum application prior to January 4, 1995, and already have work authorization, will be permitted to extend those authorizations while their applications are pending adjudication or review by the INS, an Immigration Judge, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) or a federal court.
  • Nicaraguan nationals who filed their initial application after January 4, 1995, when general asylum procedures changed, must wait 150 days before applying for work authorization. These rules are the same as those that apply to asylum applicants from other countries.

In an effort to work with the Nicaraguan community in responding to inquiries regarding the termination of the NRP, the Community Relations Service (CRS) of the DOJ has extended the use of their telephone hotline. The hotline is bilingual (Spanish-English) and has the following numbers: 305/536-4740, 4742, 4745, 4746, 4751, and 4754. The hours of operation for the hotline are 9:00 am to 5:30 pm, Monday through Friday.


Cite as AILA Doc. No. 95060859.