Immigration Benefits: Applications for Adjustment of Status Under the Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act of 1998

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1999-04-21.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

United States General Accounting Office
Washington, D.C. 20548
General Government Division


April 21,1999

The Honorable Ted Stevens, Chairman
The Honorable Robert C. Byrd, Ranking Minority Member
Committee on Appropriations
United States Senate

The Honorable Orrin G. Hatch, Chairman
The Honorable Patrick J. Leahy, Ranking Minority Member
Committee on the Judiciary
United States Senate

The Honorable C.W. Bill Young, Chairman
The Honorable David Obey, Ranking Minority Member
Committee on Appropriations
House of Representatives

The Honorable Henry J. Hyde, Chairman
The Honorable John Conyers, Jr., Ranking Minority Member
Committee on the Judiciary
House of Representatives

Subject: Immigration Benefits: Apnlications for Adiustment of Status Under the Haitian
Refugee Immigration Fairness Act of 1998

The Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act of 1998’(HRIFA) authorizes certain Haitian
nationals to apply to adjust their status to legal permanent residence. Section 902(k) requires
the Comptroller General to report every 6 months on the number of Haitian nationals who
have applied and been approved to adjust their status to legal permanent residence. The
reports are to contain a breakdown on the numbers who applied as asylum applicants,
parolees, children without parents, orphaned children, or abandoned children; or as the
eligible dependents of these applicants, including spouses, children, and unmarried sons or
daughters. The reports are to be provided until all applications have been finally adjudicated.

The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and the Executive Office for Immigration
Review (EOIR) have not yet received or approved any applications for adjustment of status
under HRIFA. INS and EOIR expect to jointly publish interim regulations by the end of April

’P.L. 105-277,Division A, Title IX, 1998.

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or early in May. According to INS officials, 30 days after the publication of the interim
regulations, Haitian nationals will be able to file applications for adjustment of status.
Accordingly, data on the number of applications received and the types of applicants should
be available for our next report, due October 241999.‘

Applications filed with INS are to be sent to INS Nebraska Service Center in Lincoln, NE. INS
has prepared draft procedures for adjudicating the applications. To facilitate processing, INS
plans to provide training for examiners, who are to adjudicate the applications, and for staff
of nongovernmental organizations, who plan to assist Haitian nationals in completing and
filing the applications. Data from the applications are to be coded according to the type of
Haitian applicant. The codes are to be entered in INS Computer Linked Application
Information Management System (CLAIMS). According to INS officials, CLAIMS has been
modified to accept the codes.

Generally, applications properly tiled with EOIR by eligible Haitian nationals in proceedings
are to be adjudicated by the immigration court. According to EOIR, Haitian nationals who
qualified for deferred enforced departure had their cases administratively closed following
the President’s announcement of the policy on December 23,1997. The deferred enforced
departure policy delayed for 1 year the removal of qualifying Haitian nationals. It applied to
any Haitian national who, prior to December 341995, was paroled into the United States or
applied for asylum, and who had been continuously present in the United States since that

To determine the status of INS and EOIR efforts to implement HRIFA, we spoke to officials of
both agencies. We also provided the agencies with a draft of this letter and have incorporated
their comments where appropriate. This work was performed by Evi Rezmovic and Jay
Jennings. If you have any questions about this letter, please contact me on 51243777.

Norman J. Rabkin
Administration of Justice Issues

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