What Is Section 245(i) of the Immigration & Nationality Act?

By Katherine at Legal Language
Posted on 01/03/2011
In Adjusting Status, Immigration

Many immigrants who would have been forced to leave the United States were allowed to stay under Section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

How does Section 245(i) work, and does it still apply to immigrants in the United States today?

An Explanation of Section 245(i)

Section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act allows certain foreign nationals to become permanent residents of the United States.

Immigrants are barred from adjusting their status if they entered the United States without first being inspected by a Customs and Border Patrol officer and if they have either failed to maintain lawful status or been unlawfully employed in the country. Section 245(i) was first added to the law in 1994 to allow persons who qualifed for green cards, but not for adjustment of status, to be able to adjust their status in the United States upon payment of a $1,000 fine.

Four years later, on Jan. 14, 1998, Congress phased Section 245(i) out of the law. Immigrants and their families who had already begun the process of changing their status under Section 245(i) as of that date were grandfathered into the section’s benefits.

However, this left thousands of otherwise qualified persons who had not begun the process unable to adjust status in the United States. They could not return to their countries to begin the legal process of obtaining US green cards without being subject to either a three or a 10-year bar upon returning to the United States.

On Dec. 21, 2000, Congress extended the qualifying date for Section 245(i) benefits to April 30, 2001. This law, known as the LIFE Act, allowed immigrants who had labor certifications or visa petitions filed on their behalf between 1998 and April 30, 2001, to qualify for adjustment of status.

Eligibility for Adjustment of Status Under Section 245(i)

The following are groups of immigrants who are allowed to apply for adjustment of status due to Section 245(i):

  • Immigrants who entered the United States illegally or without inspection
  • Immigrants who have fallen out of valid nonimmigrant status or who have committed visa violations while in status
  • Immigrants who worked while not authorized to do so
  • Crew members who entered the United States with a D visa
  • Immigrants admitted in transit without a visa
  • Immigrants admitted via the Visa Waiver Program

Even though Section 245(i) seems lenient, there are several groups of immigrants who are ineligible for adjustment of status:

  • Stowaways
  • Immigrant fiancé(e)s admitted on a K visa who failed to marry the petitioning US citizen within 90 days after arrival
  • Immigrants subject to the J-1 two-year home residency requirement
  • Immigrants who have failed to appear at a scheduled deportation hearing or asylum interview, or who have failed to follow a deportation order or grant of voluntary departure
  • Immigrants seeking adjustment of status based on a marriage to a US citizen that was entered into while the person was in deportation proceedings, unless it can be shown that the marriage was entered into in good faith and not for immigration purposes
  • Immigrants placed in removal proceedings upon their entry to the US
  • Children in nonimmigrant status or seeking to adjust their status as orphans
  • Immigrants acting as informants with S visas who have not received permission from the Attorney General to seek adjustment of status
  • Immigrants who engaged in terrorist activities while in the US

Section 245(i) Still Valid

The deadline for Section 245(i) ended nearly a decade ago. However, immigrants who qualify for adjustment of status under the law — and their children and other dependents — still become permanent residents due to 245(i)’s provisions to this day.

45 Responses to “What Is Section 245(i) of the Immigration & Nationality Act?”

  1. ernesto Says:

    what if we were brought here since we were 1 year old and started school from elementary to middle school, to high school, and we are currently 18 year’s old right now and we have not been marked legal or such thing’s and we are still considered illegal, do we have to go back to our home state due to the illegal entrance as toddlers?

  2. Diane at Legal Language Says:

    Ernesto, you may want to speak to an attorney to find out what your options are.

  3. Giovanni Says:

    my father submited the the 245i through the i130 on May 29 2001 a month after the dead line of april 30 2001. Does this this petition be any good even if its a month late?…

  4. Diane at Legal Language Says:

    Giovanni, you should check with USCIS to find out the status. Good luck!

  5. christopher lao Says:

    I been marryed to my wife since may 20, 20010 and we have a 1 year old daughter. We went to talk to an immigration assistant and they told us that since she came elegallly, and wasnt included in a paper work she can do anything untill they change the law. She’s 22 years old and she’s been leaving in the u.s since the year 1999. I want to know if we can do anything else to get her green card?

  6. Diane at Legal Language Says:

    Christopher, if you have questions about what the immigration assistant told you, you may want to consider speaking to another immigration professional for a second opinion. Good luck!

  7. phil Says:

    i applied for 245i in 2000. i’m going to apply for religious worker (i 360 ). i 360 requires that i have two years of authorized work experience. I have been working full time with full time salary and have filed 1099 every year, but it was of course unauthorized. can my 245i overcome that stipulation?

  8. Diane at Legal Language Says:

    Phil, please speak with USCIS or another immigration professional who knows the details of your circumstances. Best of luck.

  9. Antonio garcia Says:

    When would be the best time for someone to proceed i245 with the immigration process?or when will be approved it?

  10. Diane at Legal Language Says:

    Antonio, please ask someone familiar with the specifics of your circumstances for the best answer!

  11. Katty Rojas Says:

    My older brother applied for the 245i before the deadline a decade ago. He has been to numerous attorneys yet he hasn’t received a concrete answer. We are afraid of his situation. Who do you recommend we should speak to?

  12. Karen Says:

    My father had a labor case that qualified for the 245i. I was a minor at the time and he says I was included. I’m now 24 and married to a u.s citizen and have an approved I-130 and I’d like to know how I can get a copy of the 245i letter that states that I’m protected and don’t have to go to Juarez to adjust my status.

  13. Sandra Morales Says:

    Obama, so what happened with you trying to keep families together? Don’t you think this law will help? If you want us to vote for you show us that you care and take care of this before a presidential election.

  14. Billy Says:

    Can u still apply for a i245 ?…

  15. Diane at Legal Language Says:

    Billy, please check with USCIS to find out your eligibility.

  16. victoria Says:

    billy, yes.

  17. franklin Says:

    My wifey is 23 years old she came since she was one year old ..are they going to send her back to mexico?if I try to fix her papers

  18. Amy at Legal Language Says:

    Franklin, we cannot provide immigration advice online. Please speak to an immigration professional about your wife’s specific circumstances. Good luck.

  19. edgar perez Says:

    i was deported……but am married to a u.s citizen… and have 4 u.s childrens..i was incarcerated for 2 years.. now am in mexico, and would like to know if i qualify for any law so i can obtain a green card. i have my 245 i approved.. what can i do in this case???

  20. Diane at Legal Language Says:

    Edgar, Legal Language cannot provide immigration advice online. Good luck with your case.

  21. Belinda Says:

    I became a citizen 3 years ago, and i’m trying to get my husband situation fix, he was forced to take voluntary deportation about 10 years but he never left the country. He got scared. Its been almost 7 years since i submitted paperwork claiming and petitioning his status, up to this moment, we are still waiting for an appeal to his case.Our lawyer has submitted the petition to reopen his case, and no improvement has been done. obviosly, the form I245, he does not have it. what do we do, and what do you suggest. As a citizen, i feel that my rights are not being taken seriously. I’m a homeowner, pay taxes every year and a civilian that follows the rules of this country. I’m just asking for hope, for my husband to get his life back, and not be one more ghost in this country. He is a civilian, and great father, pays taxes, and follows the norms of this country, its unfair that he got a voluntary deportation just because the judge felt that he did not have any stablished life here in CA, but what about his concerns of going back to a country of war and crime like El salvador where his life will have no meaning, than to possibly fall into criminal hands, Did anybody care about this?

  22. Victor Says:

    i am going through this process at the moment, it’s very scary because we went with no lawyer. I have submitted everything they have asked for and now i am stuck with an RFE: Please submit evidence of eligibility under section 245(i) of INA and a completed and signed Supplement A to Form I-485. Evidence of eligibility includes Form I-797, Notice of Action for Form I-130, I-140, or I-360. The only thing i have to show them is a Notice of Action Form i have from 2001 when my dad filed for me which i have sent already but are they requesting that form again? My sister and mom got approved on theirs a couple years ago so can i send them proof that i should be eligible because theirs got approved? any advice?

  23. piglet Says:

    i have been here since 1979 but my father complicated things so that we did not get amnesty. can i use this to get a green card.

  24. KB Says:

    How is Section 245(i) Still Valid in 2012? Please explain…

  25. Elio Vargas Says:

    Hi, I wanted to see if I can help my father get a green card or visa. He is here in the U.S illegally since 1980, I am a U.S Citizen male, born in the U.S. I am 24 years old. I wanted to get married in December 2012 and one previous lawyer said it would affect my dads case if I was married? Is that true? Sounds strange. If true so I can hold off on that.Will it really affect him? Thank you

  26. josie zamora Says:

    My husband’s temporary residents under 245A expired 12 years ago. What does he have to do to renew?

  27. Kaytie at Legal Language Says:

    Hi Josie,

    Since every situation is different Legal Language cannot offer immigration advice online. Please speak to an immigration professional about your husband’s options.

    Kaytie at Legal Language

  28. Jay Smith Says:

    HI, an I-130 for my dad was submitted and approved under section 245(i), my mother and I were both mentioned to in the I-130 to follow and join him as beneficiary derivative. He had to wait for a visa to be available. My brother (US Citizen) petitioned for my dad and requested to grandfather my dad’s original i-130 that has a priority date of 2001. My question is, if my father gets granted the visa which my brother makes automatically available, do the beneficiary derivatives mentioned in the 2001 petition lose the “follow to join the priciple beneficiary” previledge to recieve LPR status after the prinical beneficiary recieves LPR status?

  29. Kaytie at Legal Language Says:

    Hi Jay,

    Thanks for reading. However, as every situation differs (and the law can get very tricky!) Legal Language cannot give legal advice online. We suggest you contact USCIS or an immigration attorney.

    Good Luck!
    Kaytie at Legal Language

  30. johen doe Says:

    attention to those who have filled i130 before deadline and have been approved and u are approved to change of status u dont need to file i-245 for those who are not eligible to change status at this time will need to wait for month of ur deadline to qualify for a visa or file 245i to qualify for status change and if u overstayed ur visa u be fined 1,ooo dollars to stay in usa

  31. paul Says:

    i applied 245i on march 27 2001.on 2007 my labor was denied. am i still be able use as a grandfather?

  32. Elizabeth at Legal Language Says:

    Paul –

    Legal Language is unable to provide advice on your specific situation. Contact an immigration attorney or the USCIS for guidance.

    Thanks for reading,

    Elizabeth at Legal Language

  33. Debra Says:

    I am confused about what it means by “submit evidence of your eligibility
    for adjustment of status under section 245 (i) of the INA”. While reading this info under the status…does this mean to show proof of my work record while in the states for the past 23 years? What specific information is INA asking for?

  34. John Says:

    245i is for people in illegal status. If there is some one who is in legal status like( H1B) , can he adjust the status based on the family based petition failed on 1991? The person was not considered for this petition due to “age-out” clause and got married on 2006 and in US with family since 2012. This case is not considered under CSPA as the person is married.

  35. Kaytie at Legal Language Says:

    Hello John,

    Unfortunately, Legal Language only provides general information regarding immigration. We cannot give advice regarding specific cases. We suggest contacting USCIS or an immigration attorney with your query.

    Good luck,

    Kaytie at Legal Language

  36. Jill Says:

    My mother was born in winipeg, her father was 1st nation sioux. I was born in the UK but have Canadian citizenship. my son will be visiting next month under the fee waiver scheme but would like to remain at some point what steps must he take to be able to remain? we still have relatives in Calgary and Vancouver.

  37. Francisco Alvillar profile | Ian V Hamrick Says:

    […] […]

  38. rafael Says:

    Hello i applied for my husband not much is a citizens and we just got the letter we don’t know why what should we do could you help us out thank you

  39. rafael Says:

    I don’t know what happened with the phone but I’m a USA citizen and we just got the letter

  40. Legalization or Amnesty for Unlawful Immigrants – An American Tradition | Alternative Risk Investment News Trends on Gold, Money, Currency Markets and Financial Freedom Says:

    […] immigrants who had been residing in the United States since 1982. After IRCA, the Section 245(i) legalization passed in 1994 and was then extended again CLICK TO READ […]

  41. Legalization or Amnesty for Unlawful Immigrants – An American Tradition | Cafe Con Leche Republicans Says:

    […] immigrants who had been residing in the United States since 1982. After IRCA, the Section 245(i) legalization passed in 1994 and was then extended again in 1997. The 1997 Nicaraguan Adjustment and […]

  42. Ralph Says:

    I’ve. , been here since 91, I came here with a transit visa,for a week
    I decide not to board the plane and went to brother,,got married and my wife is also working as sitter,and her visa also expired ,,since 1998, we have 2 kids now who are US Citizen,, they are
    12, and 8,I fortunately stiil working until this day and paying
    My income taxes since 91, never have a problem with the law,
    Except some traffic ticket ,
    How can I apply for legalization,,been in the US for 24. Years,
    Pls. Advice ,

  43. Patricia Says:

    Can 2 foreign nationals marry in the US? IS it legal?

  44. Patricia Says:

    I can mean can non-US citizen and Non- US permanent residents marry each other in the US?

  45. Diana Says:

    I was admitted into the US under the Visa Waiver Program. My husband is a US citizen. Before the 90 days expired, I applied to become a Resident of the US, and sent USCIS form I-485 (adjustment of status), together with my husband’s petition/form I-130.

    I attended the Biometric appointment, and I was expecting to receive the appointment to the next interview, with my husband. Instead, I received the supplement A to form I-485, Adjustment of Status under Section 245(i).
    Apparently, my last legal entry into the US was not recorded by the CBP officers. I have a witness that is prepared to sign an affidavit attesting to the fact that I was interviewed by the CBP, my passport was inspected, and I filed a Customs Declaration Form also.
    I attended meetings at my local CBP office who have inspected all my paperwork, and tried to issue me with a retroactive admission number (ticket). Unfortunately, this is not possible under current rules.

    Individuals who enter the US illegally, or without an inspection, or overstay their visa, can indeed apply for adjustment of status under section 245 (i).
    However, I feel strongly that provisions for applying under section 245 (i) do not pertain to my case. I was inspected, interviewed, my passport checked (I am a Global Entry Member also), and was told by the officers that my entry was recorded electronically. Unfortunately, they did not actually do it. Wish I pressed the CBP officers for a stamp or further evidence I was admitted legally. Now I only have my word, and my friend’s Affidavit (she was behind me in the line, and saw me being inspected, and interviewed).

    I have also filed an online redress form at DHS.TRIP but I am not sure will solve anything.
    The USCIS authority who is asking for this form (supplement A to form I-485) have not offered any other options. I do not have a telephone number, however there is an address. If I do nothing, my case will be rejected, and I risk being deported.

    Would you please shed some light as to what I could possibly do to resolve this dilemma.

    Thank you!

Leave a Reply

  • Find Attorneys

  • Search for an attorney. With 1000's of registered attorneys in our database, you'll find one that matches your location and needs.

  • USCIS Office Locator

    Search for an USCIS Office near you.