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Question: I have been in the U.S. for many years. Years back I applied under CSS and was rejected. I know that there have been court cases on this matter for years. Is there any hope that it will come back or that I will be able to apply under CSS again?

Answer: You are right about the years of court cases. This matter, Catholic Social Services or CSS has been up and down the court system for years. These types of applications were also known as legalization applications. Now, the U.S. District Court in Sacramento has approved a settlement agreement for persons who were previously rejected for certain reasons. This means, that if you fall under the provisions of the settlement agreement, you might be able to successfully apply for CSS again in order to obtain Lawful Permanent Residency.

Question: Who is covered under the CSS settlement agreement?

Answer: 1) You had to live in the United States unlawfully from before January 1, 1982, to a date between May 5, 1987, and May 4, 1988, when you went to an office of the Immigration Service or a Qualified Designated entity to apply for legalization.

2) You visited an INS office or Qualified Designated Entity between May 5, 1987, and May 4, 1988, to apply for legalization.

3) The INS or QDE told you that you were ineligible for legalization because you had traveled outside the United States without INS permission.

4) You do NOT need to have previously “registered” as a CSS class member. However, IF you did NOT apply for a CSS work permit, then you must also have had a complete legalization application and fee when you went in to apply for legalization. If you ever attempted to get a CSS work permit–even if the INS refused to give you a work permit–then it is NOT required that you had a complete application and fee when you went in to apply for legalization.

Question: What type of evidence do I need to present to win under this CSS Settlement agreement?

Answer: Clearly, many people do not have the original documents, or even any stamped documents from Immigration. Usually, if the former INS had rejected the application because of what is known as ‘front-desking’, the person was just turned away. Thus, it is not possible in many instances for an applicant to prove that they were rejected. However, the CSS settlement specifically states that persons who fall under this settlement may establish eligibility for legalization by way of declarations, and not only by original documents. The settlement also provides class members the right to appeal to a “special master,” a judicial officer with the authority to correct the CIS’s errors in the event the agency does not decide a class member’s legalization application promptly, fairly, and in accordance with the settlement’s guidelines.

Question: When can I apply for this?

Answer: The settlement provides that CIS must begin accepting legalization applications no later than May 21, 2004, but the government might decide to begin the one-year application somewhat earlier. This means that individuals will likely have until May 20, 2005, to apply for legalization under the settlement.

Brian D. Lerner is an Immigration Attorney Specialist. This firm does every aspect of immigration law including family and employment based petitions, deportation defense and criminal related immigration issues, asylum, naturalization, appeals, nonimmigrant visas, immigrant visas, and all other areas of immigration law. An appointment can be made by calling (866) 495-0554 or (562) 495-0554. The Firm website is

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Is CSS Still Alive?