LRIF: U.S. Residence for Liberians

USCIS Closure & LRIF

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has temporarily closed to the public in response to the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19). This document will explain how this closure could impact Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness (LRIF) applicants.

What happened?
In order to slow the spread of COVID-19, USCIS has suspended routine in-person services until at least April 1, 2020. This means all USCIS field offices, asylum offices, and application support centers will be closed for the foreseeable future. USCIS staff will continue to perform duties that do not involve contact with the public.

What does this mean for LRIF applicants?

  • Submitting your forms
    • Your completed Forms I-485 (green card), I-765 (work authorization), and I-131 (travel authorization) can still be submitted for processing.
    • Note: As certain other institutions and service providers (e.g., doctor’s offices, embassies, etc.) scale back their contact with the public, you may also experience delays in securing documentation required for processing of your application (e.g., birth certificate, medical certification, etc.).
  • Biometrics appointments
    • As of March 18, all biometrics appointments have been suspended until at least April 1, 2020.
    • When USCIS resumes normal operations, USCIS will reschedule biometric appointments impacted by the closure. Those impacted will receive a new appointment letter in the mail. If you do not receive a new appointment notice by mail within 90 days, call 800-375-5283.
  • EADs (work authorization)
    • Processing of EAD applications will continue.
  • Adjustment of status interviews
    • USCIS field offices will send rescheduling notices to applicants and petitioners with scheduled appointments impacted by this closure. All applicants will be rescheduled for a time when USCIS resumes normal operations.

 

What if USCIS remains closed to the public for several months?
Any extended USCIS suspension of in-person services will not impact your ability to submit forms to USCIS. It is critical that all completed Form I-485 be submitted by the December 20, 2020 deadline.

What is the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness (LRIF) Program?

On December 20, 2019, the President signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). It includes the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness (LRIF) provision, which allows Liberian nationals who have been continuously living in the United States since November 20, 2014, to apply for lawful permanent residence (a “green card”).

This guide was made together with Undocublack, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, African Communities Together, and Informed Immigrant. The information below is for general educational purposes and is not legal advice.

Who qualifies for permanent residency through LRIF?

You qualify for LRIF if you are :

  1. A Liberian national AND
  2. Continuously present in the United States since November 20, 2014 through when you file for your green card (meaning you have lived in the United States since November 20, 2014, without having been abroad for 180 days or more).
  3. You file prior to December 20, 2020.

If you meet these requirements, you are generally eligible. This includes Liberian nationals with DED as well as Liberians without lawful immigration status.

Family members of eligible applicants can also apply if they are:

  • The spouse of an eligible applicant;
  • An unmarried child of an eligible applicant under 21 ; or
  • An unmarried son or daughter 21 years old or older of an eligible applicant (immigration law distinguishes a “child” from a “son” or “daughter” depending on whether they are under 21 (child) or 21 and older (son or daughter).

You are NOT eligible if any of the following apply to you:

  • You arrived to the U.S. after November 20, 2014;
  • You are convicted of an aggravated felony;
  • You are convicted of two or more crimes of “moral turpitude” (CIMT)
  • You 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.

A CIMT is not defined in immigration statutes, but USCIS has looked to the courts that have held that moral turpitude “refers generally to conduct that shocks the public conscience as being inherently base, vile, or depraved, contrary to the rules of morality and the duties owed between man and man, either one’s fellow man or society in general.” According to USCIS’ adjudicator’s manual, the person conducting the act must generally have acted with some form of guilty knowledge. The USCIS manual also provides a table for some of the general CIMT categories.

We recommend that you consult with an attorney if you have any criminal convictions to determine whether they are a CIMT.

No. You can use your passport even if the passport is now expired. You should submit a photocopy of a government-issued identity document that has your photograph.

No. Any Liberian national who has been living in the U.S. since November 20, 2014 can apply as long as they are eligible. This generally includes former Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders who lost status in 2017 and other Liberian nationals without status.

How to Apply for LRIF

The following documents are needed to apply for permanent residence and a work permit through LRIF. We recommend you find an immigration attorney or DOJ-accredited legal representative who can assist you with your application.

The deadline to apply for LRIF is December 20, 2020.

  • Form I-485: Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
  • Form I-765: Application for Employment Authorization
    • Instructions for both the Forms I-485 and I-765.
  • If you are currently a DED holder, a copy (front and back) of your DED-based work permit.
  • A copy of a government issued identity document that has a picture of you. This can be your Liberian passport, even if your passport is expired.
  • Filing Fees (see the instructions for each form, and a summary, below).
    • You should be able to apply for a fee waiver, as with other programs that are exempt from public charge but approval is not guaranteed.
  • Photocopies: Photocopy all documents, including your filing fees and photos, before mailing.

Gather the following documents

  • Government-issued identification document (passport, voter registration card)
  • Birth certificate
  • List of previous residence addresses with dates
  • Proof of each residence since Nov. 20, 2014 (lease, rent payment receipts, utility bills)
  • List of all trips taken outside of the United States since Nov. 20, 2014
  • Pay stubs, employment records, paychecks
  • Proof of purchases, bank transactions, or receipts with your name, date and location
  • Medical, church, DMV or school records, etc.
  • Traffic tickets
  • Criminal or juvenile court documents
  • Immigration court documents
  • Any other paperwork demonstrating what happened

Save money for immigration forms and legal fees.

  • Permanent Residency Form Fee $1,140
  • Work Permit filing fee $495
  • Total = $1,635

What if I cannot afford the application cost?

If you have difficulty paying the required filing fees for USCIS, you may be eligible to apply for a “fee waiver.” While neither the law nor USCIS have explicitly said that an applicant under LRIF is eligible to a apply for a fee waiver, assuming the LRIF program is treated as similar programs that enjoy fee waiver eligibility (where public charge grounds of inadmissibility are exempt), LRIF applicants should also be eligible to apply for a fee waiver for both the I-485 application to adjust to lawful permanent residents, as well as for work authorization. This means you provide proof to the government that you cannot pay for the fee and you request to not pay the fee.l

  • Children’s birth certificates
  • Evidence of maternity/paternity and active relationship with your children
    • Financial ties (child support payments, canceled checks)
    • Emotional ties (mail or email between parents and children, photographs)
    • Other (medical or insurance records, official school records of your child)
  • Marriage certificates
  • Evidence of good faith marriage (financial records in both names)
  • A cover page that lists all of the documents included in your filing.
  • If you are requesting expedited processing of your employment authorization document application, submit the request, along with supporting documentation.

DED expires March 30, 2020

I have DED and my work permit will expire on March 30, 2020. What do I do?

DED for Liberians expires on March 30, 2020, which means the work permit for a Liberian DED holder will also expire that day.

If you want to avoid a gap in your work authorization, consider submitting your application for permanent residency AND your application to renew your work permit before March 30, 2020. If your EAD expires, you are not authorized to work. We highly recommend you speak to a lawyer or DOJ-accredited representative who can assist with your application.

Liberian DED holders are eligible for expedited, or fast, work permit processing. To apply for expedited work permit processing take the following steps:

Step 1: File your Form I-765 and I-485 on or before March 30, 2020.
Step 2: Wait to receive your receipt number in the mail.
Step 3: Once you have filed your forms and received your receipt number, call the USCIS Contact Center at 1-800-375-5283 to request expedited processing. See more about this process at USCIS.

FAQ on Work Permits

No. Your work permit must be valid/not expired to work lawfully.

No. Under LRIF you must apply for lawful permanent residence and only through that application may you apply for a work permit.

No. USCIS is only expediting applications for Liberians whose DED expires on March 30, 2020.