TO: Proyecto San Pablo class members and counsel
FROM: Robert Gibbs, Robert Pauw, class counsel
RE: Approval of I-687 applications, FAQ
1. What does it mean when the AAO decision says that my I-687 application is approved? What documents should I receive from USCIS to prove my status?
The AAO decision approving your I-687 means that your legalization application filed in 1987-88 has been granted and you are a Lawful Temporary Resident (LTR), pursuant to INA 245A. After the AAO sends the file to the Nebraska Service Center, you should shortly receive an I-797 approval notice stating that you are approved for Temporary Resident status, and also an Employment/Travel Authorization card valid for four years. Because the LTR status is only granted to amnesty applicants from 1987/88, the agency does not have the ability to produce an LTR card, so the approval notice and Employment Authorization card are what CIS is providing you to demonstrate your status.
2. Can I travel internationally now that my LTR status has been approved?
You can travel internationally once you receive the I-797 approval notice and Employment Authorization card (EAC). Be sure that the EAC shows “travel authorized.”
Caution: if you are gone from the U.S. more than thirty days in a single trip, or 90 days total since the LTR approval date, you may be found to be ineligible to adjust to LPR status. Keep a record of how long you were gone, such as entry/exit stamps, passports, airline records.
Caution: if you have a final order of exclusion, deportation or removal, you will likely have difficulty reentering the U.S. unless you get an order from the Immigration Court reopening and terminating that old final order. You should consult a qualified immigration lawyer to help with this.
3. Can I apply to upgrade my status to Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) and get a green card?
Yes, you can file a Form I-698 to adjust to LPR status. 8 C.F.R. 245a.3(d). The filing fee is currently $1020 plus $85 biometrics fee. Although you can wait to apply for LPR status for up to 43 months from the actual LTR approval date, filing fees will likely be more at that time.
4. When should I apply for permanent resident (LPR) status?
You must apply to adjust to LPR status not later than 43 months after the actual approval date of LTR status. The actual approval date should be the date shown on the AAO decision granting your application. Do not miss this deadline.
Some Employment Authorization cards are valid for four years (48 months). Do not be confused about the 48 month duration of the Employment Authorization card. If you do not apply for LPR status before 43 months from the approval date, you will lose your LTR status and be too late to apply to adjust to LPR status, even though the work card shows 48 months. In other words, you have to apply at least five months before the work card expires.
We recommend that you apply soon as the fees will likely go up if you wait several years, and because you might forget to apply otherwise. CIS can accept your application for LPR status now, since you have been approved for LTR status. 8 CFR 245a.3(a)(1). However, agency rules require that they wait at least 19 months from the actual LTR approval date before they approve your application. 8 C.F.R. §245a.3(a)(1). Be sure to keep CIS informed of any address changes while you are waiting for your application to be decided.
5. What are the eligibility requirements to adjust to LPR status from LTR status?
There are basically seven eligibility requirements, 8 C.F.R. §245a.3(b), (c):
- a. File Form I-698 with filing fee not later than 43 months after the date of actual LTR approval.
- b. Establish continuous residence in the U.S. since the date of LTR approval.
- i. No single absence can exceed 30 days, nor total of all absences over 90 days unless you had to remain out of the US for emergent reasons outside your control.
- ii. You should make sure to keep documents to prove that you have maintained continuous residence (for example, bank statements, rent receipts, utility bills, tax returns, etc.)
- c. Not have one felony or three misdemeanor convictions in the United States. No waiver is available, so if these are a problem, you will need to get the convictions vacated. Consult a qualified immigration lawyer for help with this issue.
- d. Not be convicted of a “crime involving moral turpitude,” or a drug offense (except marijuana possession less than 30 grams). Examples of crimes involving moral turpitude include theft and fraud offenses. No waiver is available, except for a single conviction of simple possession of marijuana less than 30 grams. If these are a problem, you will need to get the convictions vacated. Consult a qualified immigration lawyer for help with this issue.
- e. Pass the English and civics tests (same as for citizenship applicants).
- i. Exceptions: over 65, or over 50 and resided in US over 20 years, or developmentally disabled.
- f. Demonstrate that you will not become a “public charge.” If there is a determination that you may be a public charge, that is, need to rely on welfare benefits, then CIS is to apply the special rule of 8 C.F.R. §245a.3(g)(4)(iii). This special rule requires consideration of the totality of the circumstances at the time of the initial application for legalization in 1987-88. The applicant can meet this requirement by showing a consistent history of employment and without need to seek public assistance from a needs-based program.
- g. Not be otherwise inadmissible pursuant to INA §212(a). There are many listed grounds, but the most common problem is fraud on an immigration or visa application or when seeking entry to the U.S. If you ever made a false statement to immigration, the U.S. consulate, or when seeking entry, you would need to file an I-690 waiver application with USCIS (filing fee of $200). These waivers can be approved for humanitarian, family unity or public interest reasons. This is a very liberal standard. Matter of P-, 19 I&N Dec. 823 (Comm’r, 1988).