This is the accessible text file for GAO report number GAO-06-122R 
entitled 'Immigration Benefits: Thirteenth Report Required by the 
Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act of 1998' which was released on 
October 21, 2005. 

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United States Government Accountability Office: 

Washington, DC 20548: 

October 21, 2005: 

The Honorable Thad Cochran: 
Chairman: 
The Honorable Robert C. Byrd: 
Ranking Minority Member: 
Committee on Appropriations: 
United States Senate: 

The Honorable Arlen Specter: 
Chairman: 
The Honorable Patrick J. Leahy: 
Ranking Minority Member: 
Committee on the Judiciary: 
United States Senate: 

The Honorable Jerry Lewis: 
Chairman: 
The Honorable David R. Obey: 
Ranking Minority Member: 
Committee on Appropriations: 
House of Representatives: 

The Honorable F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr.: 
Chairman: 
The Honorable John Conyers, Jr.: 
Ranking Minority Member: 
Committee on the Judiciary: 
House of Representatives: 

Subject: Immigration Benefits: Thirteenth Report Required by the 
Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act of 1998: 

This report responds to certain requirements of the Haitian Refugee 
Immigration Fairness Act (HRIFA) of 1998[Footnote 1] that authorized 
certain Haitian nationals and their dependents to apply to adjust their 
status to lawful permanent residence. Section 902(k) of the act 
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 lawful permanent residence. The reports are to contain a 
breakdown of the number of Haitians who applied and the number who were 
approved 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. Reports are to be provided until all applications have been 
finally adjudicated. This is our thirteenth report.[Footnote 2] 

Results in Brief: 

Through September 30, 2005, United States Citizenship and Immigration 
Services (USCIS), formerly part of the Immigration and Naturalization 
Service (INS), had received a total of 39,524 HRIFA applications and 
had approved 14,050 of these applications.[Footnote 3] The Executive 
Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) had 1,792 applications filed and 
had approved 656 of them. Details on the categories of the applicants 
and approvals are provided in this report. 

Background: 

Haitian applicants are to send their applications to USCIS's Nebraska 
Service Center in Lincoln, Nebraska. A contractor at the service center 
is responsible for processing the applications up to the point of their 
adjudication by USCIS adjudication officers. An application may be 
adjudicated at the service center or in a USCIS district with 
jurisdiction over the area where the alien applicant resides. 
Generally, applications that are complete and evidentially sufficient 
can be adjudicated at the service center, according to USCIS officials. 
If an interview is required or other issues need to be resolved, the 
application is to be forwarded to the appropriate USCIS district, where 
the applicant can be interviewed and the application adjudicated. Data 
on Haitian applicants are to be entered in USCIS's Computer Linked 
Application Information Management System (CLAIMS). 

Haitian nationals who are eligible for HRIFA should file their 
applications with EOIR rather than USCIS if they have (1) a proceeding 
pending before the Immigration Court or the Board of Immigration 
Appeals or (2) a pending motion to reopen or reconsider filed on or 
before May 12, 1999. Thus, Haitian nationals who are in deportation, 
exclusion, or removal proceedings, and whose cases have not been 
administratively closed, are to file their HRIFA application with EOIR, 
not USCIS.[Footnote 4] Data on Haitian applicants are to be entered in 
EOIR's case tracking system, the Automated Nationwide System for 
Immigration Review (ANSIR). 

The deadline for principal applicants to file an application for 
adjustment of status under HRIFA was March 31, 2000. Dependents of 
principal applicants have no application deadline.[Footnote 5] 

HRIFA Applications Received and Approved by USCIS: 

Through September 30, 2005, USCIS data showed that it had received 
39,524 HRIFA applications at its Nebraska Service Center, all of which 
had been entered into CLAIMS.[Footnote 6] The categories and numbers of 
these applicants are shown in table 1. Through September 30, 2005, 
USCIS had approved 14,050 applications for adjustment of status under 
HRIFA. 

Table 1: HRIFA Applications and Categories of Applications Received and 
Approved by USCIS, through September 30, 2005: 

Principal or dependent: Principal; 
Category of applicant: Asylum; 
Number of applications in CLAIMS: 17,329; 
Number of applications approved: 6,544. 

Principal or dependent: Principal; 
Category of applicant: Parolee; 
Number of applications in CLAIMS: 8,902; 
Number of applications approved: 2,847. 

Principal or dependent: Principal; 
Category of applicant: Child without parents; 
Number of applications in CLAIMS: 1,228; 
Number of applications approved: 146. 

Principal or dependent: Principal; 
Category of applicant: Orphaned child; 
Number of applications in CLAIMS: 240; 
Number of applications approved: 28. 

Principal or dependent: Principal; 
Category of applicant: Abandoned child; 
Number of applications in CLAIMS: 481; 
Number of applications approved: 32. 

Principal or dependent: Dependent; 
Category of applicant: Spouse; 
Number of applications in CLAIMS: 3,686; 
Number of applications approved: 1,063. 

Principal or dependent: Dependent; 
Category of applicant: Child; 
Number of applications in CLAIMS: 7,268; 
Number of applications approved: 3,301. 

Principal or dependent: Dependent; 
Category of applicant: Unmarried son or daughter; 
Number of applications in CLAIMS: 390; 
Number of applications approved: 89. 

Total; 
Number of applications in CLAIMS: 39,524; 
Number of applications approved: 14,050. 

Source: USCIS data. 

[End of table] 

HRIFA Applications Filed with and Approved by EOIR: 

Through September 30, 2005, EOIR data from ANSIR showed that 1,792 
HRIFA applications had been filed with EOIR, of which 656 had been 
approved for adjustment of status.[Footnote 7] Table 2 provides 
information on the categories and numbers of HRIFA applicants and 
approvals. 

Table 2: HRIFA Applications and Categories of Applications Filed with 
and Approved by EOIR, through September 30, 2005: 

Principal or dependent: Principal; 
Category of applicant: Asylum; 
Number of applications in ANSIR: 996; 
Number of applications approved: 350. 

Principal or dependent: Principal; 
Category of applicant: Parolee; 
Number of applications in ANSIR: 435; 
Number of applications approved: 150. 

Principal or dependent: Principal; 
Category of applicant: Child without parents; 
Number of applications in ANSIR: 90; 
Number of applications approved: 33. 

Principal or dependent: Principal; 
Category of applicant: Orphaned child; 
Number of applications in ANSIR: 14; 
Number of applications approved: 5. 

Principal or dependent: Principal; 
Category of applicant: Abandoned child; 
Number of applications in ANSIR: 16; 
Number of applications approved: 8. 

Principal or dependent: Dependent; 
Category of applicant: Spouse; 
Number of applications in ANSIR: 155; 
Number of applications approved: 71. 

Principal or dependent: Dependent; 
Category of applicant: Child; 
Number of applications in ANSIR: 71; 
Number of applications approved: 31. 

Principal or dependent: Dependent; 
Category of applicant: Unmarried son or daughter; 
Number of applications in ANSIR: 15; 
Number of applications approved: 8. 

Total; 
Number of applications in ANSIR: 1,792; 
Number of applications approved: 656. 

Source: EOIR data. 

[End of table] 

Objectives, Scope, and Methodology: 

Our objectives for this report were to determine (1) the number and 
categories of applicants who filed applications with USCIS or EOIR and 
(2) the number and categories of applicants whose applications were 
approved by USCIS or EOIR. To attain these objectives, we relied on 
USCIS and EOIR to provide us with data from their CLAIMS and ANSIR 
systems, respectively, on applicants and the number of approvals. We 
assessed the reliability of the data by reviewing existing information 
about the data and the system that produced them, and we questioned 
agency officials knowledgeable about the data. We determined that the 
data were sufficiently reliable for the purposes of this report. We 
conducted our work between September and October 2005, in accordance 
with generally accepted government auditing standards. 

We provided the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security with a 
draft of this report for comment. DOJ had no comments on the report. 
DHS did not comment on the substance of the report, but provided 
technical comments, which we incorporated as appropriate. 

We are providing copies of this report to the Attorney General and the 
Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and will make copies 
available to others upon request. If you have any questions about this 
report, please contact me at (202) 512-8777. The key contributor to 
this assignment was Evi Rezmovic. 

Signed by: 

Paul L. Jones: 
Director, Homeland Security and Justice Issues: 

FOOTNOTES 

[1] Pub. L. No. 105-277, tit. IX, 112 Stat. 2681-538. 

[2] The previous reports were (1) GAO, Immigration Benefits: 
Applications for Adjustment of Status under the Haitian Refugee 
Immigration Fairness Act of 1998, GAO/GGD-99-92R (Washington, D.C.: 
Apr. 21, 1999); (2) Immigration Benefits: Second Report Required by the 
Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act of 1998, GAO/GGD-00-25R 
(Washington, D.C.: Oct. 19, 1999); (3) Immigration Benefits: Third 
Report Required by the Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act of 
1998, GAO/GGD-00-122R (Washington, D.C.: Apr. 14, 2000); (4) 
Immigration Benefits: Fourth Report Required by the Haitian Refugee 
Immigration Fairness Act of 1998, GAO-01-118R (Washington, D.C.: Oct. 
20, 2000); (5) Immigration Benefits: Fifth Report Required by the 
Haitian Immigration Fairness Act of 1998, GAO-01-651R (Washington, 
D.C.: Apr. 20, 2001); (6) Immigration Benefits: Sixth Report Required 
by the Haitian Immigration Fairness Act of 1998, GAO-02-114R 
(Washington, D.C.: Oct. 22, 2001); (7) Immigration Benefits: Seventh 
Report Required by the Haitian Immigration Fairness Act of 1998, GAO-02-
600R (Washington, D.C.: Apr. 18, 2002); (8) Immigration Benefits: 
Eighth Report Required by the Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act 
of 1998, GAO-03-240R (Washington, D.C.: Oct. 22, 2002); (9) Immigration 
Benefits: Ninth Report Required by the Haitian Refugee Immigration 
Fairness Act of 1998, GAO-03-681R (Washington, D.C.: April 21, 2003); 
(10) Immigration Benefits: Tenth Report Required by the Haitian Refugee 
Immigration Fairness Act of 1998, GAO-04-189R (Washington, D.C.: 
October 17, 2003); (11) Immigration Benefits: Eleventh Report Required 
by the Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act of 1998, GAO-04-1030R 
(Washington, D.C.: August 13, 2004); and (12) Immigration Benefits: 
Twelfth Report Required by the Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act 
of 1998, GAO-05-481R (Washington, D.C.: April 14, 2005). 

[3] On March 1, 2003, INS was transferred from the Department of 
Justice to the Department of Homeland Security. Within Homeland 
Security, the adjudication of HRIFA benefits is the responsibility of 
USCIS. 

[4] EOIR was not transferred to the Department of Homeland Security and 
remains part of the Department of Justice. 

[5] The Legal Immigration and Family Equity Act (title XI of Pub. L. 
No. 106-553, as amended by title XV of Pub. L. No. 106-554) went into 
effect on December 21, 2000. This act amended HRIFA to waive certain 
grounds of inadmissibility for aliens applying for relief under HRIFA. 
Finalized regulations implementing these changes to HRIFA went into 
effect on June 4, 2002. 

[6] Although March 31, 2000, was the application deadline for 
principals to file applications for adjustment of status under HRIFA, 
there have continued to be slight increases in CLAIMS in the number of 
principal applicants. According to USCIS, CLAIMS data may be adjusted 
for various reasons. For example, USCIS may determine that a 
principal's application was rejected in error during the filing period 
that ended on March 31, 2000; or, a principal may have submitted the 
application to a field office, and the application may not have been 
correctly routed to the Nebraska Service Center. As USCIS becomes aware 
of such cases, it enters them into CLAIMS. 

[7] Principal applicants who filed an initial application for benefits 
with the Immigration and Naturalization Service on or before the filing 
deadline of March 31, 2000, may renew their application for HRIFA 
benefits with EOIR even after the deadline. Such cases, which would be 
entered into ANSIR when the application is renewed before EOIR, account 
for increases in the total number of principal applicants over time.