By Robert L. Reeves and Nancy E. Miller

Applicants for CSS and LULAC/Newman legalization have only until December 31, 2005 to file for amnesty under the 1986 amnesty law. Applications must be postmarked by that date to be eligible for that relief.

Applicants must have continuously lived in the United States in an unlawful status from before January 1, 1982 until May 4, 1988. That includes applicants who entered the United States without any visa. It also includes applicants who entered with visas that expired prior to January 1, 1982. That unlawful status must have been known to the government. AKnown to the government@ is not restricted to the (former) INS. It can mean known to the IRS or Social Security Administration because the applicant worked.
The continuous physical presence is broken if the applicant is absent from the U.S. for more than 45 days on any one trip and 180 days total since January 1, 1982 unless the return could not be accomplished due to emergent reasons. Continuous physical presence is also broken where the applicant is outside the U.S. as a result of a deportation order.

However, continuous physical presence is not broken where the applicant entered the U.S. in nonimmigrant status prior to January 1, 1982 and was in unlawful status as of January 1, 1982 if he left the U.S. and returned through the commission of visa fraud or fraud at entry. Continuous physical presence is also not broken where the out-of-status student obtained reinstatement through fraudulent means.

Applicants must also have been continuously physically present in the U.S. since the date of enactment of the Amnesty law (May 1, 1987). However, brief, casual and innocent trips after May 1, 1987 do not break the chain of continuous physical presence. Brief, casual and innocent is defined as less than 30 days. In addition, applicants must not have been out for more than 90 days total.
Applicants who have been convicted of three misdemeanors or one felony are not eligible. Nor are applicants who assisted in the persecution of others or failed to register for Selective Service when required to do so. Waivers for grounds of inadmissibility for being a public charge or for having committed fraud are eligible.
Under the LULAC/Newman and CSS Settlement, applicants are eligible if they (or their parent or spouse) are otherwise prima facie (on the face of the application) eligible for amnesty under the 1986 law if they attempted to file a completed application and fee with the INS during the period of time from May 5, 1987 to May 4, 1988 but were refused because they had traveled outside the U.S. and returned with a visa or travel document or who traveled outside the U.S. after November 6, 1986 without advanced parole. Applicants who filed for class membership under the Newman, LULAC or CSS lawsuits are eligible to file for Alate amnesty@.

The CSS and LULAC/Newman cases have greater protection than under the LIFE Act. Therefore, even those who already have an application pending under the LIFE Act should file for relief under the CSS and LULAC/Newman Settlement. If the former applications are later denied, they will not then be able to seek relief under the settlement unless they timely filed for it.
As immigration laws get more and more harsh, no one should let an opportunity go by to apply for relief for which they may be eligible. Applicants who think they are eligible for this relief should seek assistance immediately from an experienced immigration attorney.