Adjustment of status under 245(I): EVERYTHING YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK

Adjustment of status under 245(I): EVERYTHING YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK

 

Adjustment of status under § 245(i) is an important avenue that allows some people generally disqualified from applying for adjustment, such as people who came to the United States without inspection or “EWI,” fell out of lawful status, or ever worked without authorization, to apply for permanent residence from within the United States. Because eligibility for 245(i) turns on the existence of a visa petition filed over 17 years ago, before a certain cut-off date, it is important to understand what types of questions to ask your clients to reveal possible 245(i) eligibility and how to help clients find records that may establish their eligibility. This practice advisory goes over what 245(i) is, including some of the more confusing aspects like “grandfathering” and “after acquired,” as well as how to submit an application under 245(i). The advisory also includes screening questions to assist in identifying and evaluating possible 245(i) options for your clients.

Why should I care about 245(i)?

One of the threshold requirements to apply for a green card from within the United States, or adjust status under INA § 245(a), is that the person must have been “inspected and admitted or paroled.” In most cases, this means a person must have last come to the United States through a port of entry with a valid visa or parole document. Additionally, people who are not immediate relatives may be “barred” from adjusting under 245(a), even if they last entered the United States with a valid visa, if they overstayed the visa or ever worked without authorization, among other things. These provisions pose barriers to adjustment for many people currently in the United States. Those who originally came to the United States without inspection, or who came with a visa but then fell out of status and are the spouse of a permanent resident or other preference beneficiary, will be unable to adjust even if they meet all the other adjustment requirements. While consular processing may be an alternative way to apply for permanent residency for those who do not meet all the requirements under 245(a), departing to attend a consular interview may trigger unlawful presence bars and pose other risks. Therefore, adjustment of status is usually preferable, if such an option is available. 245(i) makes adjustment an option for people who are generally ineligible due to the 245(c) adjustment bars, or because they last entered the United States without inspection.

Examples of the types of individuals who might benefit from 245(i):

DACA, who recently married a U.S. citizen (USC). Unfortunately, she didn’t travel with DACA advance parole before USCIS stopped accepting such applications in September 2017. Because she originally came to the U.S. without inspection, unless she is protected under 245(i), she will have to consular process.

Individual who originally came to the U.S. five years ago on a B-2 visa and has never left. He has an approved I-130 visa petition through his permanent resident (LPR) spouse that is now current. While he meets the “inspected and admitted or paroled” requirement, he still cannot adjust status as long his spouse remains an LPR because he is barred under 245(c) for having failed to continuously maintain lawful status. If he had 245(i) protection, he could overcome this 245(c) bar.

Undocumented immigrant who is in removal proceedings after an arrest for a DUI. He has been living in the U.S. for more than a decade and has a USC wife and young USC kids, but proving exceptional and extremely unusual hardship in order to win a Cancellation of Removal case will be difficult. He came to the U.S. without inspection when he was 17 and has never left. If he has 245(i), he could pursue adjustment instead of cancellation.

Husband-and-wife, both of whom are B-2 overstays, have been waiting for more than 20 years for the petition the husband's brother filed for him to be current. Now that it is finally close to current, they’re disappointed to learn that because they are not immediate relatives, have not continuously maintained lawful status, and worked without authorization in the last 20 years they've been living here, they are barred from adjusting status. If it is determined that they qualify for 245(i) they will be able to adjust status here in the U.S.

While our client may not be able to use this old priority date, the silver lining might be that at least they are “grandfathered” under 245(i) by this old petition, so that if they later become an immediate relative or are the beneficiary of another visa petition that is current, they may be able to adjust notwithstanding having come to the U.S. without inspection, which traditionally prevents someone from applying for adjustment of status.

I’ve heard about 245(i) before, but what exactly is it?

 

245(i) is a law that was originally passed by Congress in 1994.6 It provided that some noncitizens in the United States who would not normally qualify for adjustment of status—for example, because they came to the United States without inspection (EWI), worked without authorization, or overstayed a visa—could apply if they paid a “penalty” fee and met certain requirements. This allowed families to stay together in the United States to complete the immigration process and avoid the long, uncertain separation required to go through the immigration process outside the United States at a U.S. consulate abroad. Although the law was extended a few times, the final “sunset” or end-date was April 30, 2001. However, people can continue to benefit today if they were the beneficiaries of qualifying petitions filed before that cut-off date. Those that still benefit may be surprised to learn this, and it may take some investigating to figure out whether someone qualifies for 245(i) protection. For instance, a person will qualify for 245(i) protection where a parent was the principal beneficiary and regardless whether they were even listed as a child on the application, or where an ex-spouse was the principal beneficiary no matter that the marriage has now been terminated.

What am I looking for with 245(i)?

 

245(i) adjustment eligibility is based on the existence of an old petition, filed on or before April 30, 2001, for which individual was the principal or derivative beneficiary. Derivative beneficiaries are the spouses and children (unmarried and under age 21) of the principal beneficiary at the time the petition was filed, or those relationships that came into being before April 30, 2001 while a petition was still active. This means that someone who was a spouse or child at that time qualifies for 245(i) now, even if they no longer have that relationship. For instance, children who are over 21 and/or married and no longer a “child” would still have 245(i) protection if they were a child of a petition before the cut-off date. Similarly, where a marriage has since ended in divorce, the prior spouse will still carry 245(i) protection from an earlier filed petition. (Note that a person who is no longer a derivative cannot use the old petition to adjust status, but the old petition will be proof that the person is eligible for 245(i).) The petition had to have been “approvable when filed” and some beneficiaries are also subject to a physical presence requirement, but the first step is identifying whether your client may have been the beneficiary of one of these old petitions. Thus, you must sufficiently investigate your client’s history to determine if any such prior relationships existed and whether a petition was filed. The following sections consider the remaining requirements and complexities of 245(i). At the end of this advisory you will find suggestions for screening questions and how to find records regarding these old petitions.

Exactly which old petitions count for 245(i)?

To qualify for adjustment of status under 245(i), a person must be the beneficiary of a visa petition (I-130, I-140, I-360, I-526) or labor certification (ETA-750) that was “approvable when filed” on or before April 30, 2001 (see next question for more on “approvable when filed”).

What does “approvable when filed” mean?

 

A petition is “approvable when filed” if it was:

  • Properly filed
  • Meritorious in fact, and
  • Non-frivolous.

“Properly filed” means that the petition must have been signed by the petitioner, submitted with the appropriate filing fee, and postmarked on or before April 30, 20018 Whether a petition was “meritorious in fact” and “non-frivolous” is assessed based on the circumstances that existed at the time the petition was filed. Therefore, petitions that were later revoked, denied, or withdrawn due to circumstances that arose after the petition was filed still qualify as “approvable when filed.” This includes situations where a marriage ends in divorce, nullifying a marriage-based petition; a child beneficiary “ages out” by turning 21 or marries, losing eligibility as a “child”; or an employer goes out of business, canceling an employment-based petition. In all these circumstances, these later events do not affect whether the petition was originally valid and approvable at the time it was filed.

Example: Raul filed an I-130 on April 29, 2001 for his wife, Esperanza. However, he included the wrong filing fee amount and by the time he had remedied this and re-submitted the petition, it was one week later, May 6, 2001. Unfortunately, Raul did not “properly file” the I-130 on or before April 30, 2001, so this petition does not enable his wife to adjust under 245(i).

Example: Luis submitted a petition for his brother Uriel on April 18, 2001. Luis was an LPR at that time, although he later became a USC in June 2001. Although this petition was filed within the 245(i) timeframe, on or before April 30, 2001, there is no visa preference category for siblings of permanent residents. Even though Luis later became a citizen, at the time he filed the petition, he did not qualify to file for his brother. Therefore, this petition was ultimately invalid. When USCIS adjudicates this petition, it will be denied. Uriel would not qualify for 245(i) based on this ultimately invalid petition because it was not, in fact, approvable when filed.

Example: Martha’s LPR mother filed a petition for her when she was 14 years old, in March 2000. Martha has now married, and her petition was automatically revoked when she married because there is no immigrant visa category for married sons or daughters of LPRs.

Was the petition Martha’s mother submitted on her behalf “approvable when filed”? Yes, Martha's petition was approvable when filed. At the time that the petition was submitted, Martha qualified as the child of an LPR under the family-based 2A preference category, because she was under 21 and unmarried at that time. Even though Martha can no longer immigrate based on this petition, this does not change the fact that at the time that the petition was filed she did qualify for an immigrant visa based on her relationship to her mother. Therefore, Martha may still use this petition, when paired with another one for which an immigrant visa is presently available, for 245(i).

What’s the significance of the two different dates, January 14, 1998 and April 30, 2001?

 

January 14, 1998 and April 30, 2001 represent different cut-off dates for filing petitions under INA § 245(i) before the law ended (Congress extended it multiple times). Functionally, the only difference now is that petitions filed on or before January 14, 1998 are not subject to the December 20, 2001 physical presence requirement, whereas those filed on or after January 15, 1998 are subject to the physical presence requirement. This requirement is discussed below.

What are the legal requirements to adjust under 245(i)?

 

In order to adjust under INA § 245(i), an applicant must meet the following requirements:

  • Be the beneficiary of a visa petition or labor certification that was filed on or before April 30, 2001 and that was approvable when filed;
    • If the petition was filed after January 14, 1998, the principal beneficiary must have been physically present in the United States on December 21, 2000.
  • An immigrant visa must be immediately available to them;
    • Either the original 245(i) petition is now current, and has not been withdrawn, denied, or revoked; or
    • They are also the beneficiary of another petition that is current.
  • Be admissible under all inadmissibility grounds, with the exception of § 212(a)(6)(A).

An applicant for adjustment of status under 245(i) does not need to have been “inspected and admitted or paroled” as required under 245(a) and will not be barred under 245(c) even if they fall within the classes of people enumerated under 245(c).

What documents and forms do you submit to apply for adjustment of status under 245(i)?

To apply for adjustment under 245(i), the applicant submits all the normal adjustment of status forms and documents (I-485 Application to Adjust Status, I-864 Affidavit of Support, I-693 Medical Exam, etc.) and must pay the ordinary adjustment of status filing fee.  However, they must also include the following additional items:

  • Supplement A to Form I-485;
  • Proof they are the beneficiary of a qualifying 245(i) petition, which may be a copy of the 245(i) petition Receipt Notice, Approval Notice, or the actual 245(i) petition if the petition has a receipt date stamp, which can serve as proof of filing the 245(i) petition in place of a Receipt or Approval Notice;
  • If applicant qualifies as a derivative beneficiary of the 245(i) petition, proof of qualifying relationship (spouse or child) to the principal beneficiary;
  • Proof of physical presence on December 21, 2000, if applicable (see next question);
  • An additional $1,000 “penalty” fee, on top of the normal I-485 filing fee.

Who needs to show physical presence on December 21, 2000?

 

Some, but not all, 245(i) applicants must demonstrate that they were physically present in the United States on December 21, 2000.11 The physical presence requirement only applies to principal beneficiaries of petitions filed on or after January 15, 1998 and on or before April 30, 2001. For petitions filed on or before January 14, 1998, there is no physical presence requirement. Derivative beneficiaries do not have to show that they were present on December 21, 2000, but USCIS requires they provide proof that the principal beneficiary was, where applicable (i.e., for petitions filed after January 14, 1998).

How do you prove physical presence on December 21, 2000?

You can prove physical presence on December 21, 2000 with a document that shows physical presence on that exact date. Otherwise, you will need to provide multiple documents from as close as possible before and after December 21, 2000, to “bookend” the physical presence date and serve as circumstantial evidence that the beneficiary was likely also in the United States on December 21, 2000, if they were in the United States so soon before and after that date. For the types of documents USCIS will accept to prove physical presence on December 21, 2000.  Nonetheless, applicants have used receipts, pictures, pay stubs, proof of family events, doctor visits, etc. to meet this requirement.

Is a fee waiver available for the 245(i) penalty fee?

No, there is no fee waiver available for the 245(i) penalty fee. However, 245(i) adjustment applicants who are under 17 years old and unmarried do not have to pay the penalty fee, nor do the spouses or children of those who applied for family unity.13 Spouses or children of family unity legalization beneficiaries must provide a copy of a receipt or approval notice for Form I-817 Application for Family Unity Benefits as proof they do not have to pay the penalty fee.

What grounds of inadmissibility or other bars does 245(i) forgive?

245(i) allows people to overcome adjustment of status bars at 245(a) and 245(c), and DHS has also interpreted 245(i) as excusing inadmissibility only for § 212(a)(6)(A), being present in the United States without admission or parole (a situation many people are in after coming to the U.S. without inspection).14 Applicants for adjustment of status under 245(i) must still be admissible under all other grounds of inadmissibility. A narrow class of applicants who applied for adjustment under 245(i) with a waiver for § 212(a)(9)(C) inadmissibility in the Ninth Circuit, within a period of time when the case law was not settled on whether individuals inadmissible under this ground could apply for 245(i) adjustment, may also be eligible to have their 245(i) adjustment cases reopened and adjudicated.

Why does 245(i) sometimes involve two visa petitions, filed by two different petitioners?

Applicants for adjustment of status using 245(i) must also have a visa petition for which a visa number is currently available—this may be either the original 245(i) petition that is now current after waiting for many, many years, or another petition such as an immediate relative petition.  Sometimes the applicant can no longer immigrate using the original 245(i) petition because they are no longer eligible under that petition. For instance, where a derivative child ages out or where spouses divorce. Nonetheless, the petition is still proof that they have eligibility under 245(i), should they become eligible for a new petition. Such a person might qualify under a new visa category, for example through a new marriage. In these cases, the person adjusts status with the new petition, but presents the former petition as proof that they are protected under 245(i).

Example: Sonja was 15 years old when her uncle Ravi filed a visa petition for her entire family in 1996 (technically Sonja’s parent, Ravi’s sibling, was the primary beneficiary and the rest of Sonja’s immediate family was included as derivatives). This petition did not become current until 2008, when Sonja was 27 years old (and her CSPA calculated age was still over 21). She could not adjust status using the petition, but the fact that she is the beneficiary of the petition qualifies her for 245(i). Sonja is now 37 and married to a USC. Her USC spouse can file a petition for her, and she can present the prior petition as proof of her 245(i) eligibility, allowing her to overcome an entry without inspection or other 245(c) bar that would otherwise prevent her from adjusting status notwithstanding her marriage to a USC.

What does “grandfathering” under 245(i) mean and how does it work?

An old rule that can still apply to some people today is called a “grandfather” provision. The 245(i) special provision allowing someone to adjust status with a penalty fee was terminated on April 30, 2001. In this context, the term “grandfathering” refers to someone who can show eligibility under this old 245(i) rule and therefore continue to benefit. Someone who qualifies for 245(i) protection now has been “grandfathered” into the old rule as it was in effect before May 1, 2001. Beneficiaries of a 245(i) petition, including those who qualified as derivative spouse or child beneficiaries,17 are “grandfathered” under 245(i). For derivative beneficiaries, they are “grandfathered” as long as the spouse or child relationship with the principal beneficiary was in existence on or before April 30, 2001 and the petition was filed on or before that date as well.18 In some cases, the petition might have been filed before the relationship was formed. For example, if Sonja in the example above has a sister who was born on April 1, 2001, after her uncle originally filed the petition, her sister would also be grandfathered because she, too, qualified as a “child” of the primary beneficiary before April 30, 2001.

In other words, people who qualify for 245(i) in their own right are “grandfathered” under 245(i). This is distinguished from people who do not qualify for 245(i) in their own right, but who may still be able to adjust under 245(i) if they are the current derivative of someone who is grandfathered under 245(i), like a spouse, and they adjust at the same time as the person who is grandfathered.

Example: Lupe’s aunt filed a petition for her mother before April 30, 2001, when Lupe was 12 years old. Lupe and her mother are both grandfathered under 245(i)—Lupe as a derivative child and her mother as the principal beneficiary. Lupe can pursue her own adjustment case under 245(i), independent of what her mother does. Lupe can marry a USC and file for adjustment on her own.

Example: Jorge’s sister filed a visa petition on his behalf in 1992. Later, in 1995, Jorge's daughter Dolores was born. Is Dolores grandfathered under 245(i)? Yes, Dolores is grandfathered under 245(i). Although she did not exist when the petition was originally filed in 1992, because she was born before April 30, 2001 her father could still have added her to his petition before April 30, 2001, in time so that she could have been a derivative on the petition. Therefore, she is considered grandfathered under 245(i), even if he never actually got around to adding her to the petition, because she was alive/in existence before April 30, 2001.

As the above example illustrates, the controlling date for determining whether the spouse or child relationship was in existence and therefore the spouse or child is independently grandfathered is April 30, 2001, not necessarily the particular date the 245(i) petition was filed.

Example: Jojo was married to USC Lana in 1999 and Lana petitioned for Jojo and Jojo’s child Peter. Peter got married before he could adjust status with that petition. His spouse is undocumented and entered without inspection. Jojo became an LPR and has since naturalized. As a USC, Jojo can petition for Peter as a married son and Peter’s spouse can be included as a derivative. Peter is grandfathered under 245(i) based on the original petition filed by Lana. Although Peter’s spouse Jorge is not grandfathered, as Peter’s derivative, he can adjust with Peter, using Peter’s 245(i) eligibility. Jorge is an “after-acquired” derivative (which we will discuss later).

People who are “grandfathered” may benefit from 245(i), allowing them to overcome the inspected and admitted or paroled requirement and also any bars at 245(c), in a later adjustment application no matter how much time has passed since the 245(i) petition was submitted. They continue to be “grandfathered” until they adjust status. Each beneficiary of a petition filed on or before April 30, 2001 is independently grandfathered, meaning that they maintain 245(i) eligibility irrespective of their continuing relationship to the other beneficiaries. For example, a person who was married to a principal beneficiary of an earlier 245(i) petition continues to be grandfathered under 245(i) even after they divorce. They might be able to adjust under 245(i) if they later remarry, and their new spouse is able to submit a petition on their behalf, or they have a U.S. citizen child who turns 21 and can submit a petition for them. As explained in the previous question, these individuals must be the beneficiary of a new petition filed by an immediate relative or other petition with a current priority date. At the time of the adjustment, they must also submit proof of the old petition to demonstrate 245(i) eligibility.

What does “after acquired” mean?

A spouse or child who comes into existence after April 30, 2001 is referred to as “after acquired.” They are not grandfathered under 245(i), and can only immigrate as a derivative beneficiary of someone who is grandfathered under 245(i), based on their continuing qualifying relationship to this person at the time of the adjustment application.

Example: Martin has a qualifying 245(i) petition that his brother filed for him in 1998. The priority date is finally current, and he wants to include his wife Veronica. He married Veronica in 2005. Can Veronica immigrate under 245(i) as well? Yes, as long as Veronica immigrates at the same time as Martin. If she and Martin had divorced before they adjusted, she would not be able to benefit from his 245(i) petition because she has no independent 245(i) eligibility as an “after-acquired” spouse.

Example: Before Veronica, Martin was in a relationship with another woman who returned to Mexico to have the baby. The child was born in Mexico in 2002. Unbeknownst to Martin, the child was brought to the United States. Martin and Veronica now have full custody of the child—is this child “grandfathered” under 245(i), or is the child “after acquired” and not independently “grandfathered”? Because the child was born after April 30, 2001, the child is considered “after acquired.” However, if she is still under 21 and adjusts at the same time as her father, she can adjust under 245(i). Otherwise, she will not be able to benefit from 245(i).

Can our clients apply for 245(i), if they originally came to the U.S. without inspection (EWI) but then left the U.S. before coming back again?

 

If a person leaves the United States after spending time here with no immigration status, they might be subject to other bars of inadmissibility. Someone who has been unlawfully present in the United States for more than one year, then departs and re-enters or attempts to re-enter without being admitted is inadmissible under INA § 212(a)(9)(C), the “permanent bar.” This bar is called the permanent bar because a waiver is not even possible until the person has been outside the United States for ten years. The Board of Immigration Appeals held in Matter of Torres-Garcia, 23 I&N Dec. 866 (BIA 2006) and Matter of Briones, 24 I&N Dec. 355 (BIA 2007) that individuals who are inadmissible under § 212(a)(9)(C) are ineligible for 245(i). If individuals says they left the United States and came back, it’s important to take a full chronology of their entries and exits to and from the United States. Unlawful presence does not begin to accrue until April 1, 1997 when the law came to into effect. If they left and came back before that date this particular bar would not apply. Unlawful presence for purposes of the permanent bar does accrue for minors under 18 (unlike with other unlawful presence bars, under INA § 212(a)(9)(B)). If someone was here as a minor for more than one year after April 1, 1997, left the country, then traveled back to the U.S. without inspection, they will be subject to the bar permanent bar.

What if I may have 245(i), but also has other issues, like a criminal record or past fraud or misrepresentation?

You will need to evaluate this case as you would any other possible adjustment case—the applicant must still be admissible, which means either no inadmissibility grounds apply or if they do, you fall under an exception or is eligible for a waiver. Someone who has 245(i) just means they do not have to worry about the "inspected and admitted or paroled" requirement under INA § 245(a), and they also do not need to worry about the § 245(c) bars to adjusting under 245(a).

What kinds of questions your immigration lawyer should ask to uncover possible 245(i) petitions?

The first step in figuring out whether the clients may be 245(i)-eligible is to find out if there is an old petition out there, in which they may have been the principal or derivative beneficiary. Remember, a child in existence before April 30, 2001 can be grandfathered under 245(i), even if at the time the petition was filed for a parent the child was not yet born or was left off the petition by mistake. Simply asking whether a petition was ever filed on behalf of your client usually will not reveal all the possible ways a client might qualify under 245(i). Below are examples of the types of questions lawyer should be asking clients to identify whether they may be the beneficiary of a 245(i) petition:

  • Do you have any relatives who have immigration status?
    • Ask about aunts, uncles, grandparents, parents, siblings, and spouses
  • Do you have any ex-spouses?
    • Immigration Lawyer needs to know about prior spouses with immigration status AND those without immigration status, as those with status might have filed petitions directly for your client, and those without status might have been the beneficiaries of petitions that the client could be grandfathered under as well
  • Did client’s parents have any prior marriages?
    • (Keep in mind you might be asked about your step-parents, but sometimes parents have a prior marriage that has ended, and in these cases the child does not necessarily identify the prior spouse as a parent or former step-parent.)
    • Again, Immigration Lawyer needs to know about prior spouses with immigration status AND those without immigration status

After investigating all the possible relationships with people with immigration status, lawyer can begin to research whether a petition was filed by any of these people under which client could have benefitted. This often requires that you, as a client ask questions of family members, as you usually will not know all the possible petitions filed for family members and prior spouses 20 years ago without some investigation:

If an aunt or uncle was or is a USC, immigration lawyer should ask:

  • if the aunt/uncle ever filed for a parent. Ascertain the age of the client at time of filing, or whether the client was born on or before April 30, 2001, even if the petition was filed before they were born.
  • If any grandparents have immigration status, lawyer determine if they ever filed for a parent. Determine what status they had when they filed for the parent, and how old the parent was. Remember, immediate relative petitions do not have derivatives. But if the grandparent petitioned for the parent when grandparent was an LPR, derivatives would have been allowed. Additionally, if the grandparent was a USC and petitioned for the parent when the parent was over 21 or married, then derivatives count here as well, because this would have been a preference petition.

If you, as a client, have a parent with a prior marriage, your lawyer might ask you whether the parent’s ex-spouse had immigration status and petitioned for the former spouse and you as a derivative. Additionally, it might also be that the prior spouse did not have immigration status either, but was a principal beneficiary on a 245(i) petition. In that case, it is important to research whether any petitions were filed on behalf of the prior spouse, under which you could have been classified as a derivative.

If you have a prior spouse, your lawyer should ask whether the spouse filed a petition in the past. Additionally, if the prior spouse did not have immigration status either, immigration lawyer should determine whether the ex-spouse might have been the principal beneficiary of an old petition. For instance, the sister of your ex-wife might have petitioned for the ex-wife. If the petition was filed on or before April 30, 2001, and the marriage was also in place on or before April 30, 2001 (and while the petition was still active), you might have 245(i) eligibility.

Remember, the person does not have to actually be listed on the petition as a derivative to be 245(i)-eligible—it is enough that they could have properly qualified as a derivative on or before April 30, 2001, on a petition that was filed on or before April 30, 2001 (these two dates do not have to coincide, they both just have to be before April 30, 2001). You lawyer should ask follow-up questions, to make sure that the petition was approvable when filed. The timing of when the petitioner achieved LPR status or citizenship will need to be checked against marriage dates and ages of beneficiaries. For instance, if you report that your LPR grandmother filed a petition for your mother in 1997, or a USC uncle may have filed papers for a father in 2000, your immigration attorney should pin down for you, as a client, the following dates:

  • For a petition filed by an LPR grandparent for a parent, did the client's parent ever marry and if so, when? If the principal beneficiary parent was married before the petition was filed, that petition was not in fact approvable when filed (no visa category for married son or daughter of an LPR) and therefore does not qualify for 245(i) purposes.
  • For a petition filed by a USC aunt or uncle for a parent, when did that aunt or uncle naturalize?

If the petitioning aunt or uncle did not become a U.S. citizen until after the petition was filed, that petition was not approvable when filed (no visa category for sibling of LPR), and beneficiaries of that ultimately invalid petition are not eligible for 245(i).

Many petitioners will have no idea if, for example, an aunt filed a petition for their mother twenty years ago, so most likely they will have to go ask their parents or other relatives before being able to answer the above questions. Petitioners may discover that their relatives were part of the mad rush in the days and weeks leading up to the April 30, 2001 sunset of 245(i) who filed petitions. For qualifying petitions filed after January 14, 1998, your lawyer will also need to ask questions to determine if the principal beneficiary was present in the United States on December 21, 2000. In some cases, the principal beneficiary might be a prior spouse or a parent who is now deceased. Thus, even this question takes some investigation. Once your immigration lawyer found possible 245(i) eligibility for you, they must let you know at once. Because 245(i) eligibility stays with the grandfathered petitioners until they adjust, even if there is no immediate option to adjust, they may have an option in the future. Many people can no longer use the original petition because they aged out or the relationships have changed, but will still be able to use 245(i) eligibility for an adjustment based on a new petition. It is important that people know they have 245(i) eligibility, even if a new petition is not yet possible. In the future, their USC child will turn 21, or they might marry a USC or permanent resident down the road.

The next step, if it appears there may be a 245(i) petition out there, is to obtain the records (see next question for more on this).

How do you find old records for 245(i) petitions, which may have been filed 20 years ago or longer?

While some people will have saved a petition receipt notice or approval notice for decades, most will not have proof of this petition anymore. The best way to find proof of an old 245(i) petition is by filing a Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, request.

Contact one of our experienced immigration lawyers in New York today at (718) 407-0871 or online at https://www.prizant-law.com if you need help with solutions to your immigration problems.

Contributed by Svetlana Prizant, an Award Winning New York Immigration Lawyer

Call or visit Prizant Law at:

Prizant Law 

118-21 Queens Blvd Suite 507