On December 20, 2019, the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act (LRIF) was passed into law. The new law means that Liberian nationals who have lived in the United States since November 20, 2014 can apply to become lawful permanent residents (green card holders) of the United States. Let’s discuss what the change in the law means, who is eligible, and who might be inadmissible to the United States despite the change in the law.
In order to be eligible for a green card under LRIF, a person must be either a Liberian national who has been continuously present in the United States since November 20, 2014, or a spouse, minor child, or unmarried son or daughter of an eligible Liberian national.
What does “continuous presence” mean? It does not necessarily mean that you must never have left the United States during the period of time since November 20, 2014. Brief travel outside the country may not mean that your “continuous presence” was interrupted. However, if your trips added together equal more than 180 days, that will most likely lead to a determination that you have not been continuously present in the United States.
If you are eligible under LRIF, you will be able to apply for work authorization. And if you have received an order of deportation, you may be able to get a stay of the order under LRIF, allowing you to remain in this country. However, if your order of deportation is because of criminal activity, you may not be eligible for a stay of the order of deportation.
Applicants under LRIF must be eligible for an immigrant visa, and must not be deemed inadmissible to the United States.
First, the good news: certain grounds for inadmissibility under the Immigration and Nationality Act do not apply to applications under LRIF. These include:
However, there are certain things that could make you inadmissible, even under LRIF. These include:
If you have questions about whether you are admissible or not, you should contact an experienced immigration attorney for advice.
The United States Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) began accepting applications to adjust status under LRIF on December 26, 2019. All applications must be filed by December 19, 2020, one year after LRIF was enacted.
The enactment of LRIF is good news, but as mentioned above, you have a limited time to take advantage of this opportunity if you are eligible. You should make sure you are prepared to do so.
First, realize that filing an application is costly, and you may need to save or borrow money. The filing and biometrics fees are over $1,200, and may increase. In addition, you will need to undergo an immigration medical exam. This exam may not be covered by health insurance.
You must also be prepared to document your physical presence in the United States. Some ways to do this include providing copies of pay stubs, rent receipts, leases, and other papers showing that yo9u were actually in the United States. If you did some traveling outside of the country, you will need to prove the number of days you were outside of the United States, and that it did not exceed 180 days.
You will also have to supply a list of all of your employers and addresses for the past five years, so be prepared with that information. In addition, if you have filed for asylum in the past, you should be prepared to present a copy of your application for asylum. It is recommended that you have an immigration attorney look over your asylum application.
If you have questions about the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act, or how you may be able to apply for adjustment of status under the new law, we invite you to contact our law office to schedule a consultation. Remember that time to act under the LRIF is limited, so you should not delay.