Liberian Refugees Provided Path to Become LPRs10 Feb 2020
On December 20, 2019, President Trump signed into law a $738 billion defense appropriation bill and buried near the end of the bill is the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness (LRIF) provision. While it initially received little public attention, its unlikely passage was no doubt celebrated by the 4,000 or so Liberians living in the United States who suddenly have been provided with a means of becoming lawful permanent residents (LPRs), or what is commonly referred to as “green card holders.”
Liberian Political Violence and U.S. Immigration
Liberia is the oldest independent republic in the African continent. Starting in the 1980s, political and ethnic tensions thrust the country into a series of military coups and civil wars that lasted until 2003. The unrest decimated the Liberian economy and the overwhelming majority of Liberians today live in extreme poverty.
The United States has had a long history of recognizing these devastating challenges when considering the immigration implications for Liberian refugees in the U.S. Starting in 1991, with President George H.W. Bush, every U.S. president since has granted or extended temporary protected status (TPS) or deferred enforced departure (DED) for refugees fleeing political violence in Liberia.
Liberian Refugees Can Apply for Green Cards with Few Restrictions
Under the LRIF, any Liberian who has been continuously physically present in the United States since November 20, 2014, and who is otherwise not precluded from obtaining a green card, may file an application to register permanent residence or adjust status (form I-485). The application must be submitted by December 20, 2020, to qualify under the LRIF.
The LRIF is one of the very rare situations where a permanent solution has been enacted for a group of immigrants to the U.S. Qualifying Liberians should not delay in seeking relief under this provision.
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