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Immigration Update Pertaining to Recent Changes to the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act (LRIFA) of 2019

On December 20, 2019 the United States Congress passed a new law as part of the Liberian Refugee Immigration Act (LRIFA) in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that allows certain Liberian nationals the opportunity to file for permanent residence in the United States. 

The deadline for eligible individuals to apply is December 20, 2020.

Who is Eligible to Apply?

Liberian nationals who have been “continuously present” in the United States from November 20, 2014 up to the date of submitting an application, or the spouses, children, unmarried sons or daughters of such a person.  Applicants must meet the following requirements in order to apply: 

  • Be a national of Liberia;
  • Be continuously physically present in the United States from November 20, 2014 to the date of the filing of their application (Note: this physical presence requirement does not apply to spouses, children, or unmarried sons or daughters of the principal applicant) ;
  • Be eligible for an immigrant visa; and
  • Be admissible to the United States for lawful permanent residence or eligible for a waiver of inadmissibility or other form of relief.

A licensed immigration attorney or accredited immigration counselor can explain these eligibility requirements and whether you may be eligible to apply.

If you believe you may be eligible to apply for residency under this act, please contact Catholic Migration Services to schedule an appointment in Brooklyn at (718) 236-3000 or in Queens at (347) 472-3500.

Catholic Migration Services will continue to update information in the near future to reflect any further changes. All are encouraged to visit our website for future updates, training sessions and workshops.

Download this immigration update as a PDF.

Diocese’s Diversity Represented at Migration Day Mass

Faithful from the Diocese of Brooklyn gather at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph for the Annual Diocesan Migration Day Mass. Photo: The Tablet

Earlier this month Catholic Migration Services celebrated the Annual Diocesan Migration Day Mass celebrating the diversity of the Diocese of Immigrants. Held at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph in Prospect Heights, the multilingual celebration represented over 30 ethnic ministries. For highlights of the event, please see a list of media coverage below

Media Coverage:
Read the full story in The Tablet: Diocese’s Diversity Represented at Migration Day Mass, December 10, 2019
See Current’s NET TV’s news segment: Diocesan Migration Day Mass Celebrates Diversity in Brooklyn and Queens, December 10, 2019

Naturalization Workshop in Queens Assists New Yorkers on Their Journey to U.S. Citizenship

Catholic Migration Services recently partnered with New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI), Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP, and Goldman Sachs to host a naturalization clinic where green card holders received free legal services to help them work toward U.S. citizenship. The free workshop was held at LaGuaradia Community College in Long Island City and during the workshop, 36 lawful permanent residents began their journey to U.S. citizenship. Our staff and volunteers were able to help save applicants thousands of dollars on application fees. “Volunteers helped to complete 9 fee waivers, totaling a savings of $6,525. This is an amazing feat, especially given the circumstances!” said Chloe Moore, Naturalization Coordinator with Catholic Migration Services. For highlights of the event, please see a list of media coverage below:

Media Coverage:
Read the full story in El Diario: ¿Por qué es importante aplicar lo antes posible por la ciudadanía?, December 8, 2019
Read the full story in El Diario: Acude a talleres gratis en Nueva York sobre cómo aplicar por “green card” y ciudadanía ante USCIS, December 5, 2019

Meet José Miranda: A Second-Year Fellow Assigned to Catholic Migration Services

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Camilo and Jose Miranda at the Office of Catholic Migration Services. Photo: Immigrant Justice Corps

José Miranda, an Immigrant Justice Corps (IJC)​ second-year fellow was assigned to Catholic Migration Services during the Fall of 2018. Now a Staff Attorney for the Removal Defense Project with the Immigration Program, José was recently profiled by IJC and recalled his first client experience at Catholic Migration Services, a Nicaguaran family in need of immigration assistance assigned to the “FAMU” (family unit) docket. 

Camilo and his family arrived at the U.S. southern border in August of 2018 seeking safety and protection after being targeted by the Frente Sandinista Liberación Nacional (FSLN) who wanted to use their home as a shelter for confrontations with the anti-Sandinista student protesters and as a place to store weapons. The family refused and death threats against their lives steadily increased. After a near kidnapping of their son, the family fled Nicaragua and journeyed to the US. border seeking asylum.

After a dangerous trip, they soon reached the U.S. where Camilo, his wife, and two children were detained in a privately-run detention center in Texas for six days and later released after passing their credible fear hearing. On their way to New York, they sought assistance from Catholic Migration Services where they met José. Through the representation of Catholic Migration Services, José advocated on behalf of Camilo and his family during an expedited case in immigration court which led to a successful outcome for our client.

Read the full write-up by Immigrant Justice Corps (IJC): “You can say happy but the word isn’t enough.”

 

 

Chinatown Dim Sum Workers Win Federal Lawsuit for Owed Wages

Plaintiff “Vincent” Cao at the Chinese Staff & Workers’ Association.

The Chinese Staff & Workers’ Association (“CSWA”), a partner organization in the CILEC consortium, contacted Catholic Migration Services in late 2018 with a request for legal assistance for a number of workers that they had been organizing who were owed significant sums of wages. The group had worked in a Chinatown dim sum restaurant and most were owed up to eight weeks of unpaid wages when the restaurant closed its doors in August 2018. Jin Ming “Vincent” Cao, an organizer with CSWA, is one of the many workers who was owed unpaid wages and decided to sue his former employers, Joy Luck Palace Restaurant, its owners and its general manager. Catholic Migration Services filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on behalf of 19 of those workers, most of whom were Chinese immigrants, employed by Joy Luck Palace restaurant for about two and a half years. The group of workers, consisting of captains, servers, and bussers, pleaded violations of federal and state minimum wage and overtime laws, state spread-of-hours laws, state notice and paystub provisions, and state laws governing the purchase and maintenance of uniforms. The employers failed to participate in the litigation, and, after reviewing the workers’ sworn testimony and employment records, the judge overseeing the case ordered the employers to pay the full amount of damages that the workers sought in the litigation, totaling approximately $950,000.

Although a win for Vincent and his former coworkers, the 19 employees have yet to collect on their owed wages. According to a NY Daily News article, Vincent believes that recovery of the workers’ wages will be an uphill battle, stating that “the restaurant’s owners and operators had plenty of time to hide their assets as the lawsuit ground a conclusion.” Thomas Power, an attorney with Catholic Migration Services who represented the 19 workers in that federal case shared Vincent’s concerns that judgment collection will likely be difficult sharing that  “it’s fair to suspect that [the defendants] have taken some steps to move their assets.” Power added that “there is a bill that was recently passed by the New York State legislature, which advocates refer to as the SWEAT Bill, that would give workers some extra tools to help their efforts in recovering unpaid wages.” As of the date of this posting, that new piece of legislation currently awaits Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signature.

In fact, every year, workers in New York State are cheated out of an estimated $1 Billion that they earn but are not paid. Immigrant workers bear the brunt of this wage-theft, often toiling in low-wage industries where they don’t receive minimum wage or overtime, and sometimes receive no wages at all for days or weeks of work. To learn how you can help fight this epidemic, click here.

Read the full article in the NY Daily News: Workers in NYS are owed up to $1 billion in stolen wages: experts