Lawsuit claims USCIS unlawfully delays employment authorization for foreign workers

27 May 15

UNITED STATES

A group of foreign nationals has filed a class action lawsuit, claiming that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is not issuing employment authorization in a timely manner as required by law. The suit claims that the agency is not following regulations that require adjudication of employment authorization applications within 90 days, adjudication of initial applications by eligible asylum applicants within 30 days, and issuance of interim employment authorization valid for 240 days in cases where adjudication is not possible in those windows.

According to the complaint, the government violates these mandates by delaying adjudication and “consistently failing to issue interim employment authorization” to applicants, and compounds the problem by providing “incorrect and conflicting information” to applicants who submit inquiries to USCIS. The plaintiffs claim that the delays put employers in a difficult position because they face civil fines for continuing to employ workers without re-verifying employment authorization documents before their expirations.

“In fact, employers may be forced to lay off these workers to avoid the risk of fines imposed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement,” the complaint alleges.

The plaintiffs are eligible individuals who have waited more than 90 days for employment authorization and have not been issued interim authorization. The lawsuit seeks class certification for all individuals who are similarly situated and asks the court to order USCIS to timely adjudicate employment authorization applications or issue interim employment authorization documents where the periods have elapsed.

The case is Northwest Immigrant Rights Project et al. v. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, 2:15-cv-00813, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.

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