INA Section 245(i): INS Q and A: February 21, 2001

Section 245(i) is not Amnesty

U.S. Department of Justice
Immigration and Naturalization Service
Community & Intergovernmental Programs

February 21, 2001

What is it?

Our immigration laws allow qualified individuals to enter the United States as lawful permanent residents ("green card" holders) when they first obtain immigrant visas from a consulate or embassy outside the United States or, for many immigrants already lawfully in the United States, through a process called "adjustment of status." If you entered the United States unlawfully, or if you entered with permission but did not stay in lawful status, you normally would have to leave the United States in order to apply for an immigrant visa. Special rules under Section 245(i) may allow you to apply to adjust status without leaving the United States.

If I entered without permission or I did not stay in lawful status, how can I adjust my immigration status without leaving the U.S.?


  1. INS Form I-130 must be submitted by a close relative who agrees to sponsor you. Your relative must be a United States citizen or lawful permanent resident. If the filing date of the I-130 is after January 14, 1998, then you will need to show that you were in the United States on December 21, 2000, when you file later for adjustment of status.
    • United States citizens may sponsor their parents, spouse, children (regardless of age or marital status), and siblings
    • Lawful permanent residents may only sponsor their spouses and their unmarried children.
    • No one can sponsor uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews, brothers- and sisters-in-law, or grandparents.
  1. Department of Labor Form ETA-750 and/or INS Form I-140 should be filed if your employer agrees to sponsor you. Your employer should check with the local Employment Services Office to see which form(s) are required. In some cases, you may be able to file the forms yourself. If the filing date of the form(s) is after January 14, 1998, then you will need to show that you were in the United States on December 21, 2000.
  1. INS Form I-360 may be filed, if you are a member of a special group such as an Amerasian, the widow(er) of a United States citizen, a battered spouse, or you may file a Form I-526 if you are an alien investor.
  1. When a visa is immediately available, you should file the Adjustment of Status Forms I-485 and I-485A, with the correct fees and a $1,000 penalty. Unless you are the parent, spouse or unmarried child under 21 of a United States citizen, you must wait until an immigrant visa number is available to you before filing for adjustment of status. There is no deadline for this application.
This information about adjustment of status is based on the Immigration and Nationality Act, as changed by the Legal Immigration Family Equity Act (LIFE) and LIFE Act Amendments. Detailed information on Section 245(i) will be included in the regulations to be published.

You might be eligible to adjust your status under a different part of Section 245, without paying the penalty and without regard to the filing deadlines, if you are someone who entered with permission but who has been out of status for 180 days or less, or if your sponsor is your spouse, parent, or child and a United States citizen. More information on application filing procedures and updates on LIFE and other immigration benefits can be found on the INS website,, or on the INS Help Line at 1-800-375-5283, as it becomes available.

These forms are available on the INS Website at on the Forms and Fees page

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