Path to Citizenship for Liberian Nationals

Erick Widman

The United States Congress created the Liberian Refugee International Fairness (LRIF) program to provide Liberian nationals who have lived in the USA for many years an opportunity to apply for lawful permanent resident (LPR) status, obtain a green card, and eventually naturalize as US citizens. The LRIF officially went into effect on December 20, 2019 and states that United States Service and Immigration Services (USCIS) will accept Adjustment of Status applications (Form I-485) from specific Liberian nationals for one year, until December 20, 2020. Later, the LRIF program was extended for an additional year, through December 20, 2021.

On December 20, 2021, the application window for LRIF closed. USCIS is no longer accepting applications for Adjustment of Status through LRIF. However, the Biden Administration has extended Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) protections through June 30, 2024, for Liberians present in the US. The DED eligibility requirements have been expanded to include Liberians who have been continuously present in the United States since May 20, 2017.

DED Continues to Be an Option for Liberians

Although the application dates for a green card under the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act (LRIF) have passed, the LRIF program permits those with DED status to apply for green cards.

Soon after taking office, President Joe Biden issued an executive order extending Liberian DED status through June 30, 2022. Later, he issued a subsequent order that:

  • Further extends DED through June 30, 2024 for Liberians who are present in the United States and held DED as of June 30, 2022, and awards them continued employment authorization.
  • Safeguards from deportation any Liberian national or person without nationality who last habitually resided in Liberia and who has been continuously physically present in the United States since May 20, 2017 and also makes them eligible for employment authorization.

You might not even need to submit an application, as none is required for DED starters. Also, USCIS is automatically extending specific Liberian DED-related work permits’ (EADs) validity through June 30, 2024. These include EADs with an A-11 Category Code and a March 30, 2020, January 10, 2021, or June 30, 2022 expiration date.

Or, if you are a DED-eligible Liberian and don’t have a work permit, you may apply for one by filing Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization). You can also apply for travel authorization by filing Form I-131 (Application for Travel Document), which authorizes you to return to the United States after traveling outside its borders.

Employment Authorization for Liberian Individuals Covered by DED

On September 6, 2022, USCIS published a Federal Register Notice extending and expanding eligibility for Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for Liberians and explaining how eligible Liberians may apply for Employment Authorization Documents (EADs).

On June 27, 2022, President Biden issued a memorandum extending and expanding DED for Liberians for 24 months. Eligible Liberian nationals covered under DED as of June 30, 2022, may stay in the United States through June 30, 2024. Biden’s memorandum also defers the deportation of any Liberian national (or person without nationality who last habitually resided in Liberia) who has been physically present in the United States since May 20, 2017 and who meets DED eligibility requirements.

Additionally, the memorandum extends employment authorization for people covered under DED for Liberia through June 30, 2024. USCIS is automatically extending the validity of Liberian DED-related EADs through June 30, 2024 for those individuals who already have an EAD with an A-11 Category Code and a “Card Expires” date of March 30, 2020, January 10, 2021, or June 30, 2022. These EADs remain valid, even though their facial expiration date has passed.

Eligible Liberians covered by the memorandum may apply for an EAD by filing Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization).

Do You Need Legal Help with Your Immigration Case?

At Passage Immigration Law, our lawyers specialize in US Immigration Law, so you can get the most expert advice and dependable legal assistance for your immigration matters. We have had much success obtaining US permanent resident status for clients who applied for citizenship through naturalization and various visas as well as defending them in Immigration Court against ICE and DHS.

With offices in Portland, Oregon, Los Angeles, California, and Seattle, Washington, Passage Immigration Law can help you throughout the immigration process. Call to schedule an appointment today at (503) 427-8243, or you can schedule a consultation here.

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