Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness
Find more information on Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure.
What is Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness?
On Dec. 20, 2019, Congress passed a new law that provides a path to lawful permanent residence and citizenship for certain Liberians who have been living in the United States for years. The law, which was included in the National Defense Authorization Act, amends the Immigration and Nationality Act to provide a brief, one-year window for eligible applicants to apply for a green card.
Since 1991, Liberia has been continuously designated for either Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, or Deferred Enforced Departure, or DED, due to unsafe country conditions preventing Liberians from safely returning. In 2007, President Bush directed that DED be granted to Liberian TPS holders, allowing them to remain in the United States for 18 months. Since then, DED for Liberia was extended by all subsequent administrations until the Trump administration terminated DED for Liberia in 2019, effective March 30, 2020.
While eligible Liberians were protected from deportation under TPS or DED for decades, they have not had a pathway to adjust or change their status to become lawful permanent residents until now.
Who is eligible under LRIF?
Liberian nationals and their spouses, unmarried children under 21 years old, or unmarried sons and daughters 21 years old or older living in the United States who meet the eligibility requirements may apply to become lawful permanent residents (receive green cards).
Principal applicants for LRIF must meet the following requirements to apply:
- Be a national of Liberia;
- Be continuously physically present in the United States from Nov. 20, 2014 to the date of application;
- Be eligible for an immigrant visa; and
- Be admissible to the United States for lawful permanent residence or eligible for a waiver of inadmissibility or other form of relief.
Who is NOT eligible to apply for LRIF?
- People who have been convicted of any aggravated felony;
- People who have been convicted of two or more crimes involving moral turpitude (other than a purely political offense); or
- Those who have ordered, incited, assisted, or otherwise participated in the persecution of any person on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.
How does someone apply for LRIF?
LRIF applications must be submitted by Dec. 20, 2020 and include:
- USCIS Form I-485 indicating eligibility pursuant to “LRIF” with applicable fees or fee waiver request;
- Evidence of Liberian nationality (only required for principal applicants);
- Evidence of continuous physical presence from Nov. 20, 2014, to the filing date of application (only required for principal applicants);
- If applicable, proof of qualifying family relationship;
- If applicable, application for waiver of inadmissibility;
- If seeking work authorization, USCIS Form I-765 indicating the “(c)(9)”eligibility category with applicable fees or fee waiver request;
- If seeking travel authorization, USCIS Form I-131 with applicable fees or fee waiver request.
The application should be filed with either USCIS’ Phoenix or Dallas Lockbox, depending upon where the applicant lives. Filing addresses and instructions can be found here.
What if I am in removal proceedings or have a final order of removal?
Eligible applicants who are currently in removal proceedings or have a final removal order are strongly recommended to consult with a qualified legal representative before filing an application. For legal advocates representing applicants in removal proceedings, EOIR has issued a policy memo on issues that may arise in immigration court.
What should I do if I am eligible for LRIF?
CLINIC strongly encourages all potential applicants to seek qualified legal guidance before submitting an application to USCIS. In the meantime, you may begin collecting supporting documents. Note that you may need to obtain identity documents from a local Liberian consulate for your application.