The Legal Immigration and Family Equity Act of 2000 (LIFE Act), among other things, allows certain people residing in the U.S. who might be eligible for an immigrant visa to apply for adjustment of status (to obtain legal permanent residence, i.e. get a green card) without having to leave the U.S. and go to a U.S. consulate abroad. This is particularly important because people who have been out of status (in certain circumstances) in the U.S. for more than 6 months would be barred from re-entering the U.S. for at least 3 years and as many 10 years. The immigration attorneys in our office can assist with determining whether you are eligible to benefit from the LIFE Act. Additionally, a Michigan LIFE Act lawyer could help you through the nuances of this law.

What is the LIFE Act?

The LIFE Act assists those who are the beneficiary of a filed Labor Certification Application (LCA) or of an immigrant visa petition (I-130), or nearly any other application for permanent benefit. In order to take advantage of this provision, a beneficiary who had been present in the U.S. for more than one year. must have had filed on their behalf prior to April 30, 2001 either a LCA with the Department of Labor (DOL) or an approvable immigrant visa petition with the INS. The physical presence element of the Act requires that people who filed a petition or labor certification after January 14, 1998, but before April 30, 2001, prove that they were in the U.S. on December 21, 2000, the date the law was enacted, in order to qualify.

In an employment context, employees, or potential employees, who were eligible for permanent residence based on a job offer, benefited the most from the LIFE Act. However, spouses and certain other family members of U.S. Citizens or Legal Permanent Residents (green card holders) also benefitted and may still benefit. The LIFE Act is particularly advantageous for those who may have overstayed their visa, or otherwise violated the terms of a visa, worked without authorization, or even entered without inspection because the LIFE Act allows them to apply for adjustment of status from within the U.S. by paying an additional fee but without other penalties. A lawyer in Michigan who has experience with the LIFE act could explain the benefits.

Functions of the LIFE Acts

It is vital for both employers and immigrants to understand that the LIFE Act does not in authorize an immigrant to work. It merely allows people who have been illegally present in the U.S., or who do not otherwise qualify for adjustment, to apply for adjustment of status. The LIFE Act provides no other benefits in this context.

The LIFE Act allows individuals to utilize a new petition on the basis of the old. For example, a previously filed family petition may be used as the basis for a new work- or family-based petition. This “grandfathering” effect allows aliens to use petitions filed years earlier to permit current applications that would otherwise be barred. There is a filing fee of $1,000, plus other fees, which is paid upon the filing of adjustment of status. If you believe that an LCA or immigration visa petition, or other application, was filed on your behalf prior to April 30, 2001 and it was approved, or is approvable, we may be able to help you adjust your status to green card holder even now.

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