HRIFA acknowledged the legitimacy of the Haitian refugee crisis by allowing some Haitians to regularize their status. Steady influxes of Haitian “boat people” began arriving in December 1972, in flight from the brutal Duvalier dictatorship. Because Duvalier was an anti-communist ally that the United States did not want to offend, the U.S. government categorized the overwhelmingly poor and black migrants as economic migrants and not as refugees, making them ineligible to receive asylum and remain in the United States. To deter future asylum seekers from Haiti, the government placed the Haitians in detention centers, jails, and prisons. Treatment of Haitians contrasted sharply with that meted out to their neighboring Cubans, who as opponents of the communist Castro government receive the greatest consideration to gain admission as refugees.
Haitians continued to face steep odds of gaining admission and permanent residency in the United States until a series of legal challenges to the U.S.’s detention policies and HRIFA required that they be released into the general population and be granted greater recognition of their status as refugees to qualify for legal permanent status.
105th CONGRESS 1st Session H. R. 3049 To adjust the immigration status of certain Haitian nationals who were provided refuge in the United States.
(b) Aliens Eligible for Adjustment of Status.–The benefits provided by subsection (a) shall apply to any alien who is a national of Haiti–
(1) who filed for asylum before December 31, 1995, was paroled into the United States prior to December 31, 1995, after having been identified as having a credible fear of persecution . . . ; and
(2) has been physically present in the United States for at least 1 year and is physically present in the United States on the date the application for such adjustment is filed, except an alien shall not be considered to have failed to maintain continuous physical presence by reason of an absence, or absences, from the United States for any periods in the aggregate not exceeding 180 days.
(c) Stay of Removal.–
(1) In general.–The Attorney General shall provide by regulation for an alien subject to a final order of deportation, removal, or exclusion to seek a stay of such order based on the filing of an application under subsection (a) . . . .
(3) Work authorization.–The Attorney General may authorize an alien who has applied for adjustment of status under subsection (a) to engage in employment in the United States . . .
(d) Adjustment of Status for Spouses and Children.–
(1) In general.–Notwithstanding section 245(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, the status of an alien shall be adjusted by the Attorney General to that of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence . . . .
Under the Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act (HRIFA), enacted by Congress on October 21, 1998, certain nationals of Haiti who had been residing in the United States could become permanent residents (get a green card). Principal applicants wishing to apply for permanent residence under HRIFA had until March 31, 2000 to file for adjustment of status.
Although the filing period has closed for principal applicants, dependents of the principal filer may continue to apply for a green card under the HRIFA provisions.
You may be eligible to get a green card through the HRIFA provisions if you:
- Are a national of Haiti
- Qualify as a dependent applicant under HRIFA (see below)
- Are admissible to the United States
- Have been continuously present in the United States since December 31, 1995 (This requirement only applies to unmarried sons or daughters over the age of 21 of the principal applicant.)
- Are physically present in the United States when the application is filed
Eligibility as “Spouse” of HRIFA Principal Applicant
You may qualify as a dependent applicant if you meet the eligibility criteria above and you are the spouse of a principal applicant. Your relationship to the principal applicant must have been created prior to the date on which the principal applicant becomes or became a permanent resident.
Eligibility as “Child” of HRIFA Principal Applicant
You may qualify as a dependent applicant if you meet the eligibility criteria above and you are the “child” of a principal applicant. You must be unmarried and under the age of 21 in order to qualify as the principal applicant’s “child.” Your relationship to the principal applicant must have been created prior to the date on which the principal applicant becomes a permanent resident.
Please also be aware that you will become ineligible for permanent residence as the “child” of a principal applicant if your case is not decided before your 21st birthday. If you are approaching your 21st birthday, please file your Application for Adjustment of Status, Form I-485, as soon as possible and write “expedite” on your mailing envelope and application form.
Eligibility as “Unmarried Son or Daughter” of HRIFA Principal Applicant
You may qualify as a dependent applicant if you meet the eligibility criteria above and you are the unmarried son or daughter (over the age of 21) of a principal applicant. To apply as the unmarried son or daughter, you must have been physically present in the United States for a continuous period beginning not later than December 1, 1995, and continuing until your adjustment application is approved. Your relationship to the principal applicant must have been created prior to the date on which the principal applicant becomes or became a permanent resident.
To apply for a green card, you will need to file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. You will need to use the HRIFA Supplement to Form I-485 Instructions, I-485 Supplement C, to help you complete the application.
Supporting Evidence for the Form I-485
The following evidence should be submitted with Form I-485:
- Two passport-style photos
- Copy of government issued photo identification
- Copy of birth certificate
- Copy of passport page with nonimmigrant visa (if applicable)
- Copy of passport pages with admission (entry) or parole stamps (if applicable)
- Copy of Form(s) I-94, Admission/Departure Record (if applicable)
- Evidence of Haitian citizenship or nationality
- Evidence of your family relationship (spousal or parent-child) to the principal applicant. [This relationship must have existed at the time the principal applicant was granted adjustment of status and continue to exist up until you are granted adjustment of status.]
- Evidence of continuous physical presence in the United States since December 31, 1995 (if you are an unmarried son or daughter 21 years or older of a HRIFA principal) along with a statement providing your last arrival in the U.S. before December 31, 1995, all departures and arrivals from the United States up until present, with the reason for each departure and the date, manner, and place of each return to the United States
- Form I-693, Report of Medical Exam and Vaccination Record
- Police clearances from each municipality where you have resided after your 14th birthday and for six months or longer since arriving in the U.S.
- Certified copies of court records (if you have ever been arrested)
- Applicable fees
NOTE: When completing your application for adjustment, you must check Block H in part 2 of the Form I-485 and write in whichever category is appropriate in the space provided: HRIFA Dependent – Spouse; HRIFA Dependent -Child under 21 years old; HRIFA Dependent – Unmarried son or daughter.
Work & Travel Authorization
You may request authorization to work in the United States if your Form I-485 application has been pending for more than 180 days. However, work authorization may be granted earlier if your application for adjustment of status is supported by evidence that is verified by USCIS from its records. To learn more about work authorization, including how to apply, see our Work Authorization.
You may also request travel authorization while your Form I-485 is pending. You must file a request for advance parole authorization with USCIS and have that request approved prior to travel or your Form I-485 will be considered abandoned at the time of your departure from the United States. To learn more about Travel Authorization please visit our Travel Documents page.
If you are a principal applicant filing a Request for Advance Parole, Form I-131, for a dependent child outside of the United States, please file as early as possible. The request for advance parole must be processed and the travel document issued in a sufficient amount of time to allow:
- Your dependent to travel to the United States
- Your dependent to file a HRIFA adjustment application (Form I-485)
- USCIS to completely adjudicate the application before your dependent’s 21st birthda