Liberian Refugees Adjusting Status Under LRIF Law Might Be Citizenship-Eligible Immediately

October 4, 2021 Based on the LRIF's so-called “rollback” provision, most Liberians receiving green cards under this law will not have to wait the normal five years before applying to naturalize.

** LEGAL UPDATE **

Congress passed what's known as the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act (LRIFA) back in 2020, with the idea of allowing certain Liberians who'd been living in the U.S. with a legal status known as Deferred Enforced Departure or DED (and before that, Temporary Protected Status (TPS)), to apply for lawful permanent residence (green cards). (This was part of the National Defense Authorization Act.)

After adjusting to LPR status under the LRIFA, Liberians can take steps toward becoming U.S. citizens. One of the main eligibility requirements for naturalized U.S. citizenship is that the person have been a lawful permanent resident for (in most cases) at least five years. However, based on the LRIFA's so-called "rollback" provision, most Liberians will not have to wait this long before applying to naturalize; or wait at all.

Here's how it works: Once Liberians are approved for green cards (as principal applicants), USCIS will record the date of their "admission" for permanent residence as either their earliest proven arrival date to the U.S. or November 20, 2014. For Liberians who are approved as family members of a principal applicant, USCIS will record the date of their admission as either their earliest proven arrival date to the U.S. or the date USCIS received their adjustment of status application (USCIS Form I-485).

You'll be able to see the date USCIS recorded for you on your green card. This rolling back of admission dates means that many Liberians who adjust status under LRIF will, having arrived in the U.S. many years ago, immediately meet the five-year period of continuous residence required to apply for naturalized citizenship.

More information about the LRIFA rollback provision can be found in the USCIS Policy Manual.

Effective Date: October 4, 2021