While Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) beneficiaries await the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion and most Temporary Protected Status (TPS) beneficiaries also are in limbo, Liberians have been given what appears to be a pathway to citizenship due to passage of the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness (LRIF) Act as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2020.

As of December 26, 2019, USCIS began accepting “Green Card” applications, i.e., applications to adjust to permanent residence, from Liberians who have been physically present in the United States continuously from November 20, 2014, (when there was an Ebola outbreak in Liberia) until the date on which they submit their applications. This window of opportunity will be open for one year only – until December 20, 2020.

There are some restrictions on applicants. Those who apply cannot have been convicted of an aggravated felony or two or more crimes involving moral turpitude. In addition, they must be otherwise eligible to receive an immigrant visa and be admissible to the United States. However, certain other grounds of inadmissibility will not apply to them:

  • Public Charge;
  • Labor Certification Requirements;
  • Aliens Present Without Admission or Parole; and
  • Documentation Requirements including a valid, unexpired passport.

Under the LRIF, spouses, unmarried children under 21, and unmarried sons and daughters 21 or older also are eligible for adjustment.

The Trump Administration decided to terminate Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) status for Liberians as of March 31, 2019. Then, in response to litigation and other protests, the President issued a Memorandum reversing course and extending the wind-down period to March 30, 2020, thus giving Congress a chance to act – and it did.

DED is similar to TPS. Currently, Liberians are the only nationals holding DED. President George Bush granted DED to Liberians in 2007 in response to a long period of civil war in that country. Senators Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.) championed LRIF’s inclusion in the National Defense Authorization Act. Approximately 4,000 Liberians are DED beneficiaries, but many more are affected by this news because most of the DED beneficiaries have children and families in the U.S.

Perhaps this DED legislation will be a bellwether for legislation to secure the futures of many thousands more beneficiaries of TPS and DACA.

Please contact a Jackson Lewis attorney with any questions.

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Photo of Forrest G. Read IV Forrest G. Read IV

Forrest Read is a Principal in the Raleigh, North Carolina, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He has extensive experience in both business immigration law and employment law and has particular focus in legal issues in graduate medical education (GME).

Mr. Read’s immigration practice…

Forrest Read is a Principal in the Raleigh, North Carolina, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He has extensive experience in both business immigration law and employment law and has particular focus in legal issues in graduate medical education (GME).

Mr. Read’s immigration practice focuses on assisting employers in obtaining employment-based nonimmigrant visas (e.g., H-1B, L, O, TN) for foreign national employees and work-related immigrant (green card) visas, including PERM Labor Certifications, and advising employers on compliance with U.S. immigration laws and regulations. He has broad experience in advising large, mid-size and small employers on their various immigration needs and developing strategies to help them navigate through complex immigration issues. He also has particular experience in counseling employers in the health care industry and addressing immigration-related issues that arise for their broad range of health care professional employees (including advising on and obtaining employment authorization for medical residents and fellows and obtaining J-1 visa waivers for foreign national physicians completing their medical training in the United States). His immigration practice also includes defending employers in connection with Department of Labor H-1B and H-2B investigations.

Mr. Read’s employment law experience includes representing management, particularly academic medical centers in the GME context, in a wide array of workplace disputes and litigation before federal and state courts and administrative agencies, including matters related to discrimination, retaliation, harassment, disability, family and medical leave, various wage and hour issues, contracts, and intentional torts. He advises academic medical centers on the interplay between applicable academic law and employment law and the ramifications of what are divergent legal requirements and standards. Mr. Read also provides counsel with respect to the legal impact of competency standards for residents and trainees in GME, including situations involving discipline, remediation, and dismissal. He provides advice and guidance in the peer review process, including provision of verification and assessment of training in response to third party inquiries.

As a member of the Firm’s Corporate Diversity Counseling group, Mr. Read also has experience in providing assessments and making recommendations to corporate and institutional clients with respect to diversity and inclusion policies and initiatives, conducting related internal investigations, and shaping, developing and enforcing effective policies and initiatives to ensure consistency with client values and in furtherance of business goals and objectives.