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BECOMING Legal: A Guide to the New Immigration Law : How Amnesty Works

May 04, 1987

Who Qualifies

Those who can prove illegal residency since before Jan. 1, 1982.

Those who entered the country on a non-immigrant visa (student, tourist, etc.) and whose visas expired before Jan. 1, 1982.

Those who entered the country on a non-immigrant visa (student, tourist, etc.) and who violated the requirements of that visa and such violation was known to the government since Jan. 1, 1982. Such violation must have been known to the INS and a note to that effect must appear in the immigrant's file.

Those who can prove that the INS has granted them voluntary departure, voluntary return or voluntary extended departure before Jan. 1, 1982.

Those who can prove that they were authorized to enter the United States before Jan. 1, 1982, and that such status expired before Jan. 1, 1982.

Cuban or Haitian citizens who entered the country before Jan. 1, 1982. Who Does Not Qualify

Those convicted of a felony in any part of the world or three or more misdemeanors in the United States. A misdemeanor is defined as a crime punishable by one year in jail or less but more than five days. A felony is defined as a crime punishable by more than one year's incarceration.

People who have persecuted others due to race, national origin, religion, nationality, affiliation with certain groups or political views.

People subject to exclusion under other provisions of the immigration law and who do not receive a waiver.

People who held a non-immigrant exchange visitor's visa subject to the requirement of two years' residency outside of the country, unless this requirement was fulfilled or an exemption was made.

Those who might become "a public charge."

Those convicted of drug-related matters, except for possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana.

People constituting national security risks or communists or others who advocate the overthrow of the government. Where to Apply

Applicants can pick up applications and return them either at the legalization centers of the immigration service or through a number of private agencies.

Each member of a family must fill a separate form, including minors. For those under 16, a parent or guardian may sign the application.

All applicants, however, will be interviewed by the immigration service.

Those interested may send their applications by mail or deliver them personally to these centers, along with the documentation required to prove their cases.

However, some lawyers and leaders of various ethnic communities recommend that before turning over their applications to the INS, applicants request the assistance of someone experienced in putting together a case with documents and evidence. For this kind of assistance, those interested may turn to the centers of assistance which the Catholic Church has opened throughout Southern California or to any of the other private agencies listed here and elsewhere in this supplement.

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