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Thousands of Liberians Granted Path to Permanent Residency


Enacted on December 20, 2019, the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act (LRIF) grants a path for Liberians living in the United States to become permanent residents. Minnesota and Rhode Island senators spearheaded this legislation because their state populations have the largest percentage of Liberians in the country.

Minnesota Senator Tina Smith described the passage of this act as a historic win because of the way immigration issues have become so partisan. She says it is “a tribute to the strong voices in the Liberian community and so many others who have fought hard to make sure that these members of our community have a chance to become a citizen.”

Liberians initially came to the U.S. beginning in 1989 as refugees fleeing the civil war in Liberia. The U.S. granted many of them Temporary Protected Status or Deferred Enforced Departure, but these programs need to be renewed every 18 months by the President. In fact, Liberians nearly became undocumented in March of 2019, when President Trump waited to renew the programs until three days before they would have expired.

Abdullah Kiatamba, Executive Director of African Immigrant Services, has spent years advocating for a replacement to these temporary programs. Liberians have established roots here in the U.S., and deportation would result in separation from both their families and their communities. Furthermore, they have made invaluable contributions to the economies of states like Minnesota and Rhode Island.

With the passage of LRIF in the National Defense Authorization Act, thousands of people who have been living year-to-year on these temporary visas and permits now have access to the long-term solution of permanent residency.

Applying for a Green Card as a Liberian in the U.S.

If you are a Liberian living in the U.S., LRIF allows you, your spouse, and your unmarried children to apply for permanent residency between December 20, 2019 and December 20, 2020. You must have been living continuously in the U.S. since November 20, 2014 (when Liberia experienced an Ebola outbreak). Additionally, any time you spent outside of the country cannot have exceeded 180 days.

You can apply for a green card this year even if you:

  • Are considered a public charge
  • Have been present in the U.S. without admission or parole
  • Lack labor certification
  • Lack documentation (i.e. valid passport)

These factors would normally render a green card applicant ineligible.

One of the biggest advantages of permanent residency is the ability to apply for citizenship. Citizenship is the only type of status that provides full protection from a removal proceeding. Currently, about 4,000 Liberians are beneficiaries of Deferred Enforced Departure, but potentially thousands more could qualify for this window of opportunity.

We Can Help You Apply for Your Green Card

At Mathur Law Offices, P.C., our dedicated legal team has years of combined experience representing clients in all types of cases. We are thrilled to learn about this unprecedented news for Liberians living in the U.S., and we are fully prepared to help turn this opportunity into a reality. If you are ready to apply for permanent residency, we will work with the sense of urgency your case requires.

Get started by scheduling your case evaluation, or call us directly at (888) 867-5191 today.