This page covers some other miscellaneous U.S. immigration options available to people coming from personally or nationally chaotic situations or fleeing persecution. Humanitarian parole is available on an individualized basis to people from all countries. Over the years, Congress has enacted special, limited laws that do not fit the rest of the immigration scheme, some of which benefit certain people from specific countries or sets of countries. For instance, Congress has in effect granted permanent residence eligibility to people from any country who were covered by class action lawsuits against USCIS for closing them out of a 1986 amnesty scheme. Countries covered by specific laws include Cuba, Nicaragua, Haiti, the former Soviet Union, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Poland, Hungary, Guatemala, and El Salvador. Note that Temporary Protected Status is also country specific. We can help with all of these options.

Humanitarian Parole

When no visa classification fits the situation or when the alien is subject to some inadmissibility ground for which he has not been able to obtain a waiver, he may seek “humanitarian parole” through the USCIS Parole and Humanitarian Assistance Branch. Parole is given on a case-by-case basis for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit. Usually it requires something very serious, such as dire need for medical treatment unavailable elsewhere, and it is not given often. It can only be requested from abroad. Parole results in a lawful entry and, while it is valid, prevents “unlawful presence,” but it is not a nonimmigrant status from which one can change to another nonimmigrant status. Nevertheless, someone paroled into the U.S. may, if otherwise qualified, adjust status to permanent residence. The USCIS website contains useful information on applying for humanitarian parole.

Amnesty Holdovers

In 1986 congress enacted an amnesty (or legalization) for aliens who had been unlawfully present in the U.S. from 1982 to 1986 or who had worked as agricultural workers for several seasons during that period. The deadline for applications for that amnesty is long past, but there were three class action lawsuits in which the classes of plaintiffs argued that they were incorrectly denied legalization or were discouraged or prevented by the immigration service (USCIS) from applying. In 2000 Congress passed the LIFE Act putting an end to those class actions by giving participants in those lawsuits eligibility to apply for permanent residence. The USCIS website describes rules of the program.

Lautenberg Amendment

A special law, known as the “Lautenberg Amendment,” enacted in 1989 temporarily, but extended since then, provides a more generous treatment for refugee status (not asylum) for certain nationals of the former Soviet Union (particularly Jews, Evangelical Christians, Ukrainian Catholics, and Ukrainian Orthodox), Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. That law, implemented in USCIS regulations, also allows adjustment of status to permanent residence for nationals from those countries who were paroled into the U.S. between 1988 and 1994. Former Soviets can also benefit from NACARA suspension.

Polish and Hungarian Refugees

Certain nationals of Poland and Hungary who were paroled into the U.S. between 1989 and 1991 may adjust to permanent residence. USCIS regulations provide details.

Cuban Arrangements

Several special arrangements apply to Cuban nationals. First, there has been a special Cuban lottery in past years, although the next lottery has not been set. Second, certain Cubans seem to receive special consideration in refugee cases. Third, the Cuban Adjustment Act allows special adjustment to permanent residence of Cubans who have been admitted or paroled (and those found in the U.S. undocumented often are then paroled) and physically present in the U.S. for one year. Fourth, the “NACARA” law discussed below applies to Cubans.

NACARA/HRIFA Adjustments for Cubans, Nicaraguans, and Haitians

Two special laws for nationals of certain countries, called NACARA and HRIFA, allowed certain Haitians, Cubans and Nicaraguans who had been present in the U.S. since 1995 to adjust specially to permanent residence. The deadline for those adjustment applications has passed except for those who were previously denied NACARA adjustment because they had re-entered the U.S. illegally.

NACARA Special Suspension of Deportation for Guatemalans, Salvadorans, and Former Soviets.

The law allows special “suspension of deportation” to permanent residence under relaxed former standards and a unique procedure for certain nationals of El Salvador, Guatemala, and countries of the former Soviet Union and Warsaw pact who entered the U.S. by certain dates in 1990 and either filed asylum applications and/or registered for certain benefits by certain dates before the end of 1991. This benefits many people whose asylum applications have been stuck in monstrous backlogs for over a decade, who have been extending their work authorization cards annually all these years, and who probably ultimately could not win an asylum claim. The complex eligibility and procedural rules for this benefit are set forth in substantial detail in the instructions to the application form, I-881.

How We Can Help

The Baker Donelson Immigration Group keeps up with even the seemingly esoteric developments in immigration law affecting nationals of specific countries, because for the relatively few people who can benefit from these laws, they make all the difference. We sort through the standard and special options to devise the best strategy for the client to permanent residence and to avoid removal. We help clients from any country document and present their unique, emergent needs to seek humanitarian parole in the rare cases where that remedy is available.

Consult with us for assistance with a case.