Arlington, VA

This sponsored column is by James Montana, Esq. and Doran Shemin, Esq., practicing attorneys at Steelyard LLC, an immigration-focused law firm located in Arlington, Virginia. The legal information given here is general in nature. If you want legal advice, contact James for an appointment.

(Authors’ Note: The civil unrest and accompanying curfews yesterday are obviously the first thing on our minds, but we’re going to focus on our usual topic — immigration — because we know, from talking with clients, that these informational posts have a long life on Google, and we’d like to do some good. Stay safe, everyone.)

Congress frequently deadlocks and fails to pass meaningful immigration legislation. However, as we reported almost exactly one year ago, Congress authorized an amnesty for many Liberian nationals, allowing them to apply for lawful permanent residence in the United States.

The amnesty, known as the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act or LRIF, was passed as part of a large spending bill. The original LRIF Act imposed a deadline of December 20, 2020, for eligible applicants to apply, and sadly, data showed that many eligible Liberians did not apply before the deadline.

To our surprise and excitement, Congress has come through again for Liberians! In late December, Congress passed a bill which extended the deadline to apply for residency under LRIF to December 20, 2021. The bill was part of an appropriations package that President Trump signed into law.

As a reminder, here are the baseline eligibility requirements to apply:

  • You must file an application for a green card by December 20, 2021.
  • You must be a citizen of Liberia.
  • You must have been continuously present from November 20, 2014, to the date of filing the green card application.
  • You must not have been convicted of a serious crime.
  • You must not have persecuted others for their political or religious convictions.

We encourage any Liberian who has been in the United States since November 2014 to contact a lawyer to see if he or she qualifies for LRIF benefits. Applying for residency under this program could be your way to becoming a permanent resident and later, a U.S. citizen.

We welcome any comments and will do our best to respond.

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