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The Legal Immigration Family Equity Act (LIFE Act), otherwise known as 245i will allow you to get legal status from within the U.S. if you are the beneficiary of an approved petition. The way the law is today, generally an employer or qualified family member has to petition for you. However, if you entered illegally or overstayed your visa, your employer can’t help you. If you entered illegally, your qualifying family member can petition for you but you will have to leave the U.S. and after a potentially extended stay outside the U.S., be allowed to return and claim your green card. The LIFE Act would forgive the illegal entry if you qualify and pay a $1,000 fee. The problem is that the LIFE Act expired on April 30, 2001. Those that use it today are predominantly ones who applied years ago, but their visa is only now becoming current. The LIFE Act allows you to adjust your status within the U.S. even if you:

  • Entered the United States illegally;
  • Worked in the United States illegally,
  • Failed to maintain continuously lawful status,
  • Entered under the Visa Waiver Pilot Program,
  • Entered as foreign crewmen, and
  • Entered as foreign travelers in transit without a visa.

However, the petition must have been “Properly Filed.” For immigrant visa petition, “properly filed” means that the immigrant visa petition was received by immigration prior to the close of business on or before April 30, 2001, or if mailed, was postmarked on or before April 30, 2001. The petition must have the name of both the petitioner and the beneficiary, the correct fee, and must have been signed by the petitioner. Whereas for labor certification, “properly filed,” means it was filed with the Department of Labor on or before April 30, 2001. The petition must also have “Approvable when filed.” For a family-based petition these terms mean the petition was filed properly, it had merit, it was not fraudulent; and when filed the appropriate relationship between the petitioner and the beneficiary (whether family or employment) existed. Whereas, for a labor certification application means, “approvable when filed,” means that at the time of filing with the Department of Labor it met the agency’s rules, the application had merit, and it was not fraudulent. If you meet these requirements, you can apply at any later time (even after April 30, 2001) when your immigrant petition is approved a visa number is immediately available for you. If you qualify today, you can still apply and take advantage of this law.