Sunday, July 21, 2024

Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act

The Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act (HRIFA) was enacted in 1998. It provides special procedures by which qualifying Haitian nationals can become lawful permanent residents (LPRs) of the United States. Basically, HRIFA allows the qualifying Haitian nationals who are in the United States to apply for an adjustment of their status (which may be illegal or temporary) to that of an LPR. The procedures are streamlined and do not require the aliens to apply for immigrant visas from the U.S. embassy in Haiti.


To be eligible for HRIFA relief, a person must meet several requirements. First, the alien must be a national of Haiti who was physically present in the United States on December 31, 1995. In addition, the alien must have been continually present in the U.S. from the time they arrived (December 31, 1995 or earlier) through the time that the alien’s application for adjustment of status was filed. “Continuous presence” allows for absences totaling 180 or fewer days. The alien’s application for adjustment of status must have been filed by March 31, 2000.

The alien must be admissible under the Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA). HRIFA does exempt certain grounds of inadmissibility for purposes of HRIFA, however. Thus, the following grounds are not reason to deny a Haitian national HRIFA benefits: public charge, lack of labor certification, present without admission or parole, lack of valid visa, and illegal presence.

In addition, the applicant must fall into one of the following five categories:

  • Haitian nationals who filed for asylum before December 31, 1995
  • Haitians who were paroled into the U.S. prior to December 31, 1995, after having been identified as having a credible fear of persecution, for emergent reasons, or reasons deemed strictly in the public interest
  • Haitian children who arrived in the U.S. without parents and have remained without parents in the U.S. since arrival
  • Haitian children who became orphaned subsequent to their arrival in the U.S.
  • Haitian children who were abandoned prior to April 1, 1998, and have remained abandoned


Dependents of eligible Haitians are also eligible to apply for lawful permanent residency if they too are a national of Haiti and are admissible to the United States under all provisions not excepted by HRIFA. A “dependent” includes a spouse, minor child, or an unmarried child who is 21 years of age or older. If the dependent is an unmarried child, 21 years or older, the child must have been physically present in the U.S. during a time period beginning no later than December 31, 1995, and ending no earlier than the date of application for adjustment of status.

Dependents do not have the same date restrictions on the filing of their application for adjustment. It may be filed at any time. In addition, a Haitian national may apply for an adjustment of status on behalf of a dependent who is not living in the United States.

Application Process

To start the process, a Haitian national needs to file an Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, along with the HRIFA Supplement. Fingerprints are then taken. Some cases are scheduled for interviews, others are not. If no interview is scheduled, a notice will be sent in the mail stating whether LPR status was granted or denied.

Aliens wishing to qualify under HRIFA need to have filed their application for adjustment of status by March 31, 2000. Dependents of qualifying Haitian nationals, however, may continue to file their application at any time.

Copyright 2012 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.

State Certified Specialists
Robert Beles - State Certified Criminal Law Specialist
Anne Beles - State Certified Criminal Law Specialist
Paul McCarthy - State Certified Appellate Law Specialist
Emilio Parker - State Certified Immigration Law Specialist
California Board of Legal Specialization

    Free Consultation - Online Form

    All fields marked with * are required.

    Se Habla Español

    Contact us for a free consultation: (510) 836‑0100
    Let our experience work for you. We can help!

    Very Pleased with Robert’s Services

    "Robert Beles and his team are straightening out my matters that the San Francisco public defender left in shambles. I had to be patient and wait for court dates and for judges to rule in my favor. Thanks to Robert and his team my future looks much better and my record is clean."


    Beles Law Office Can Handle Anything in the Criminal Law World

    "Robert has been practicing many many years and can handle anything. My experience with them has been great."

    Mike M.

    Super Lawyers California State Bar Preeminent Lawyers California Board of Legal Specialization National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
    California Attorneys for Criminal Justice Avvo Rating 10.0 - Robert J. Beles AILA Best of Oakland Winner
    Office Locations

    Oakland Office
    The Ordway Building
    1 Kaiser Plaza - Suite 2300
    Oakland, CA 94612
    Phone: (510) 836-0100
    Fax: 510-832-3690

    Hayward Office
    22320 Foothill Blvd.
    Hayward, CA 94541
    Phone: (510) 836-0100

    Fremont Office
    39560 Stevenson Place - St 217
    Fremont, CA 94536
    Phone: (510) 745-7755

    Pleasanton Office
    4900 Hopyard Rd. - Suite 100
    Pleasanton, CA 94588
    Phone: (925) 460-5400

    Walnut Creek Office
    2121 N. California Blvd
    Walnut Creek, CA 94507
    Phone: (925) 460-5400

    San Jose
    2880 Zanker Road, Suite 203
    San Jose, CA 95134
    Phone: (510) 836-0100

    Contact Us Office Directions

    Credit Cards and Payment Plans Accepted
    Translate »