Employment Authorization Documents Adjudication Delays

Employment Authorization Documents Adjudication Delays

Rosario v. USCIS, No. 2:15-cv-00813-JLR (W.D. Wash.), appeal pending, NWIRP v. USCIS, No. 18-35806 (9th Cir.)


By regulation, USCIS must either adjudicate applications for employment authorization documents (EADs) within a fixed time period or issue interim employment authorization. Yet USCIS regularly fails to do either, leaving noncitizens in a precarious position, unable to work legally and at risk of losing their jobs, related benefits and, in some states, their driver’s licenses. Since 2013, AILA has repeatedly tried to address these delays with USCIS. Nonetheless, at a meeting with USCIS headquarters in April 2015, agency representatives indicated that “USCIS no longer produces interim EADs.” Faced with increasing reports from immigration lawyers of EAD adjudication delays, the Council and several partners filed this lawsuit against USCIS and DHS.

On July 18, 2017, the court certified a nationwide class of asylum applicants whose pending applications for their initial EADs were not adjudicated within the required 30-day regulatory timeframe and who did not receive interim employment authorization. The court granted the government’s motion to dismiss the claims of the named plaintiffs whose EAD applications were subject to the 90-day regulatory timeframe, concluding that DHS’s amended EAD regulations, which went into effect on January 17, 2017, rendered those claims moot. The case has moved forward with the 30-day nationwide class.

Following summary judgment briefing by both parties, the court ruled in Plaintiffs’ favor on July 26, 2018. The court ordered USCIS to follow the law and timely adjudicate initial EAD asylum applications.

The court issued the July 26, 2018 decision under seal. On August 6, 2018, the court directed the clerk to unseal the decision following the parties agreement that there was no need for redactions.

On September 14, 2018, the parties filed a joint statement along with a partial implementation plan.  In the statement, they asked the court to allow supplemental briefing on two outstanding issues related to implementation, which the court allowed and the parties completed on October 10, 2018. 

On September 21, 2018, the government appealed the district court’s July 26, 2018 order granting summary judgment in Plaintiffs’ favor. Briefing was completed in early August 2019.

Defendants have been providing Plaintiffs with monthly compliance reports.

For more information about the court’s order and the partial implementation plan, please read our Frequently Asked Questions.

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