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Immigration through the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA) Section 203

Overview of NACARA 203
Suspension of Deportation and Special Rule Cancellation of Removal Defined
Eligibility
Eligibility to Apply With the USCIS
How to Apply With the USCIS
The Decision-Making Process (Fingerprinting, Interview, Receipt of Decision)
Employment Authorization
Information on the ABC Settlement Agreement
Immigration Through the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA) Section 202

 

Overview of NACARA 203

On November 19, 1997, President Clinton signed into law the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA). NACARA provides various forms of immigration benefits and relief from deportation to certain Nicaraguans, Cubans, Salvadorans, Guatemalans, nationals of former Soviet bloc countries and their dependents. The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000, signed into law on October 28, 2000, added two more categories of individuals eligible to apply for relief from removal under NACARA.

Section 203 of NACARA ("NACARA 203") applies to certain Guatemalans, Salvadorans and nationals of former Soviet bloc countries who entered the United States by specified dates and applied for asylum or registered for benefits under the settlement agreement in the class action lawsuit American Baptist Churches v. Thornburgh, 760 F. Supp. 796 (N.D. Cal. 1991) (ABC). After October 2000, it also applies to their qualified family members and to certain individuals who have been battered or subjected to extreme cruelty by a lawful permanent resident, United States citizen, or by certain NACARA 203 beneficiaries. Section 203 of NACARA allows qualified individuals to apply for suspension of deportation or for cancellation of removal ("NACARA 203 relief") under the standards similar to those in effect before the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996. At the same time an individual is granted NACARA 203 relief, he or she is also given lawful permanent resident status.

Section 203 of NACARA was effective upon enactment of NACARA (November 19, 1997) for those individuals applying for relief in immigration court. The interim regulations implementing section 203, which became effective June 21, 1999, allow certain individuals to file applications for NACARA 203 relief with the USCIS. The interim regulation has been codified at 8 CFR Part 103.1(g)(3)(ii); 8 CFR Part 208.14(f); 8 CFR Part 240.20(c), 240.58 and 240.60 through 240.70.

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NACARA 203: Suspension of Deportation and Special Rule Cancellation of Removal Defined

What are suspension of deportation and special rule cancellation of removal?
These are forms of relief from deportation or removal. Traditionally, suspension of deportation and cancellation of removal have only been available to eligible individuals who are in deportation or removal proceedings in Immigration Court. However, regulations implementing NACARA 203 allow certain individuals to apply for relief with the USCIS even if they have not been placed in deportation or removal proceedings before an immigration judge. For information on eligibility to apply with the USCIS, see Can I Apply for NACARA 203 Relief with the USCIS?

If I am granted NACARA suspension of deportation or special rule cancellation of removal, what will my status in the United States be?
Individuals granted relief under section 203 of NACARA will have their status adjusted to that of lawful permanent resident and will obtain an I-551, Permanent Residence Card, commonly referred to as a "green card."

Is there any difference between suspension of deportation and special rule cancellation of removal?
Whether an individual is granted suspension of deportation or special rule cancellation of removal, his or her status will be adjusted to that of a lawful permanent resident. However, there are some differences in the requirements for establishing eligibility for these two forms of relief. For example, the two forms of relief have different rules regarding which absences from the United States will break continuous physical presence, and there are also differences concerning the types of activities that will bar a person from being granted relief from deportation or removal. If you would like further information on these differences, you should talk with someone experienced with immigration matters.

How do I know whether I am applying for NACARA suspension of deportation or special rule cancellation of removal?
It depends on whether or not you were placed in deportation proceedings before April 1, 1997. If you were placed in deportation proceedings and those proceedings have not been terminated, then you will be applying for suspension of deportation. If you are in removal proceedings, then you will be applying for special rule cancellation of removal. Individuals who have never been placed in deportation or removal proceedings and are eligible to apply for NACARA 203 relief with the USCIS will automatically be asking for special rule cancellation of removal. After you submit an application for NACARA 203 relief, the USCIS or the immigration judge will determine whether you are applying for suspension of deportation or special rule cancellation of removal.

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