Class Action Lawsuit Challenging USCIS Delay in Deciding Applications for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waivers

Class Action Lawsuit Challenging USCIS Delay in Deciding Applications for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waivers

Guevara Enriquez v. USCIS, No.2:23-cv-97-TL (W.D. Wash.)

STATUS:
Pending

A group of immigrants filed a class action lawsuit seeking an end to processing delays that prevent them from becoming lawful permanent residents. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has already approved immigrant petitions filed by their U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident family member. But plaintiffs and their families cannot move forward until USCIS processes the waiver applications plaintiffs filed at least 12 months ago. 

USCIS previously decided these applications in under five months. But processing times have increased exponentially, to 34 months and 39.5 months (for eighty percent of the applications) at the two USCIS Service Centers that process provisional unlawful presence waiver applications. Plaintiffs can only complete the green card process after a personal interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad and being admitted to the United States on the immigrant visa. If plaintiffs left the United States before USCIS decided their waiver applications, they would be separated from their families for a substantial time period, as they cannot proceed with their immigrant visa applications while the waiver application remains pending. 

While they wait for a decision from USCIS, plaintiffs cannot work lawfully and have no protection against being removed from the United States. The complaint describes the harm to family unity—a professed priority of USCIS and its Director Ur M. Jaddousuch as a U.S. citizen spouse with serious health issues who must continue with his physically demanding employment because his wife has no work authorization and is dependent on his wife to help him with life activities such as dressing and bathing. 

The lawsuit was filed in the federal district court for the Western District of Washington by the American Immigration Council and the law firms of Gibbs Houston Pauw, Bless Litigation, Joseph & Hall PC, Kuck Baxter Immigration Partners LLC, and Siskind Susser, PC. 

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