LRIF: U.S. Residence for Liberians

Update on Extension for Liberians with Deferred Enforced Departure (DED)

We’re excited to share some good news! On March 30, 2020 the expiration date for Deferred Enforced Departure for Liberians was extended to January 10, 2021. The extension was granted to “facilitate uninterrupted work authorization for those currently in the United States under DED who are eligible to apply for LPR status ([permanent residence)] under the LRIF provision.”

This extension is applied automatically to all current DED holders. This means that your work authorization did not expire on March 30, 2020. This extension will also provide you time to prepare your green card application by the December 20, 2020 deadline under the LRIF program. For more information on program eligibility, preparing your application and expedited processing please see the guide below.

Update on USCIS Office Closures due to COVID-19

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has temporarily closed their offices to the public to help slow the spread of the coronavirus . USCIS has suspended in-person services until at least May 3, 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 immigration services that do not involve direct contact with the public.

What happened?

In order to slow the spread of COVID-19, USCIS has suspended routine in-person services until at least May 3, 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: Other service providers such as doctor’s offices, embassies, etc. may also be scaling back their contact with the public. This might mean you will experience other delays in getting your required documents for processing your application like your birth certificate, a medical certification, etc.
  • Biometrics appointments
    • If you previously had a work permit and had a biometrics appointment on or after March 18, your application will be processed with the fingerprints you provided previously.
    • If you have never held a lawful immigration status and were scheduled for a fingerprint appointment, then USCIS will reschedule once they reopen to the public.
    • When USCIS resumes normal operations, USCIS will automatically reschedule biometric appointments delayed due to the coronavirus closures.
  • Adjustment of Status Interviews
      • USCIS field offices will send updated rescheduled appointment dates to applicants whose appointments were cancelled by the coronavirus closure. All applicants will be rescheduled for a time when USCIS repones.

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. We will keep you updated on USCIS office openings and closings.

It is very important that all completed Form I-485 be submitted by the December 20, 2020 deadline. For more information on how to prepare your application package follow the guidelines in the toolkit below. We also suggest talking to an attorney or legal service organization to help prepare your application and to answer any questions that you may have.

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.

Use this eligibility survey created by our friends at iamerica.org to find out if you're eligible for the LRIF program. As always, consult with an attorney if you have any questions.

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 January 10, 2021

I have DED and my work permit expiration date is on March 30, 2020. What do I do?

On March 30, 2020 the expiration date for DED for Liberians was extended to January 10, 2021. This allows for DED holders to NOT have a gap within your work authorization while you file for permanent residence. This extension is applied automatically to all current DED holders.

DED for Liberians now expires on January 10, 2021.

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.