Oh no, not that COMPLETELY INSANE “December 21, 2000” RULE !!

Immigration lawyers who read this post will know what we’re talking about.  It’s a good story. Back in December 2000 (the 21st, to be exact), a law under §245(i) of the Immigration Act was passed. Without going to get into all the legal mumbo, basically this was the deal when an immigrant could file for a green card for 120 days starting on January 1, 2001, with the proviso of a $1000 penalty on top on the filing fees.  Some of the cases are still pending, more than nine years later, because that is how slow the system can be. (As an aside, when people say, “I became a legal resident by following the rules, they always neglect to mention rules like §245(i), but that is another story for another day). Anyway, there is this one tiny provision in §245(i), which requires that an applicant must demonstrate that he was in the US on  December 21, 2000. So, here we are in August 2010, and people are going to green card interviews and Immigration demands evidence of being here, exactly on 12/21/00.  Many times, discretion is used and if a person can give a bill or tax document, etc., from the fall of 2000, it is satisfactory.  Perhaps a birth certificate of a child born here in the early spring of 2001 might be good, but not always. Sometimes, if an applicant cannot get something proving her feet were on US soil on December 21, 2000, the application may be denied. We recently represented a woman who is about 65 years of age, sent to appear before an Immigration Judge for a removal (that’s “deportation” for you laypeople) hearing. Why was she notified that she had to go to court ?  That’s right, no evidence of 12/21 presence. We had to bring in her old landlord to testify that our client rented an apartment from her during those years, and that testimony, along with some documents, satisfied the Judge. After waiting about a decade, the woman’s green card was issued. The Judge had a great line, said in all seriousness:  “Short of a photograph of an immigrant holding up a newspaper dated December 21, 2000, there is really nothing that absolutely proves physical presence.”

Written by: Harlan York

Immigration Attorney Harlan York is Former Chair, Immigration Section, NJ State Bar Association and Former Co-Chair, NY State Bar Association CFLS Immigration Committee. Mr. York appeared on National Television on CBS This Morning with Charlie Rose and Primer Impacto on Univision, as well as Telemundo, NBC, and PBS. He was honored as First Ever Immigration Lawyer of The Year in NJ by Best Lawyers.

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