Connecticut, US

Apr 03 2019

Trump Administration Extends Wind-Down Period and Related Work Authorization for Liberians with Deferred Enforced Departure

United States

At a glance

  • The wind-down period for Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for eligible Liberians has been extended by twelve months, to March 30, 2020.
  • Eligible Liberian DED beneficiaries can remain in the United States through March 30, 2020.
  • DED employment authorization documents with an expiration date of March 31, 2019 will be automatically extended through September 27, 2019. Where employment authorization is needed beyond this date, a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, must be filed.

The issue

President Trump has determined that foreign policy considerations with Liberia warrant a twelve-month extension of the wind-down period for Deferred Enforced Departure for Liberians, extending the program’s end date from March 31, 2019 to March 30, 2020.  The president explained that a prolonged wind-down is necessary to provide Liberia’s government with additional time to reintegrate its returning citizens. 

In light of this directive, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued a notice confirming that Liberian DED beneficiaries may remain lawfully in the United States until March 30, 2020. Eligible beneficiaries may also extend their work authorization during this period as outlined below.

Ongoing DED work authorization

  • Who can extend work authorization: Liberian nationals (and persons without nationality who last habitually resided in Liberia) can maintain work authorization throughout the wind-down period if they have continuously resided in the United States since October 1, 2002 and are currently eligible Liberian DED beneficiaries. 
  • Extending employment authorization: Starting today, Liberian DED beneficiaries who wish to extend their related employment authorization for the full twelve-month wind-down can submit a Form I-765 application for an employment authorization document (EAD) and the applicable fees (or a fee waiver application). 
  • Automatic EAD extensions: DHS recognizes that given the timing of the announcement, a DED beneficiary would have been unable to file and receive a new EAD by its March 31, 2019 expiration. Accordingly, DHS has automatically extended the validity of all EADs bearing a March 31, 2019 expiration date and an A-11 category, for a period of 180 days, through September 27, 2019.
  • Beneficiaries with pending EAD applications: DED beneficiaries who had a Form I-765 pending as of March 31, 2019 need not re-file an application to obtain the 12-month extension.  Approved applications will be granted validity dates through March 30, 2020.

The wind-down period and continued work authorization will not apply to certain Liberians, including those: who are ineligible for TPS due to findings of guilt for certain crime convictions; whose presence or activities in the U.S. have been found to be adverse to U.S. interests; who have voluntarily returned to Liberia or their last country of habitual residence outside of the United States; who were deported, excluded, or removed before March 28, 2019; or who are subject to extradition.

I-9 eligibility verification

For Form I-9 employment eligibility verification purposes, through September 27, 2019, employers may accept a DED-related EAD with an expiration date of March 31, 2019, along with a copy of the April 3, 2019 Federal Register notice. After September 27, 2019, employers may no longer accept an expired EAD that was issued under the previous DED extension for Liberia – a facially valid DED EAD will be required. USCIS has indicated that it will try to expeditiously issue new EADs with an expiration date of March 30, 2020 to eligible individuals who timely submit Form I-765 to avoid gaps in work authorization. 

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen.