Judge Certifies Nationwide Class in Employment Authorization Case

Judge Certifies Nationwide Class in Employment Authorization Case

July 19, 2017

Washington D.C. – Today, U.S. District Court Judge James Robert granted a motion to certify a nationwide class in Northwest Immigrant Rights Project v. USCIS, recognizing that USCIS must adjudicate asylum seekers’ employment authorization applications within 30 days if they are submitted in a timely manner. The agency has regularly failed to adhere to this deadline, often delaying applications for months at a time. This delay can cause severe hardship for asylum seekers, many of whom are left in precarious situations with no ability to legally work while their applications are pending.

In light of regulatory changes made after the lawsuit was filed, the Court dismissed the claims of a second proposed subclass of individuals who, under the previous regulations, were entitled to receive interim work permits if the government failed to adjudicate their applications for employment authorization within 90 days of timely submission.  The new regulations, issued in the final days of the Obama administration, assisted certain 90-day plaintiffs by expanding the duration of their work permits to two years, allowing them to apply 180 days in advance for renewals, and – in some cases – permitting an automatic extension of work authorization. 

“The Court’s order today underscores that USCIS must follow its own regulations,” noted Christopher Strawn, Director of the Asylum Unit at the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. “The 30-day deadline to decide these work authorization applications is a requirement, not a suggestion.”

“This decision has the potential to help thousands of vulnerable asylum seekers, who desperately need to work while their applications are pending,” said Melissa Crow, Legal Director of the American Immigration Council.  “However, we remain concerned about other categories of noncitizens whose applications for employment authorization are no longer subject to a specific timetable for adjudication.“

The plaintiffs in this case are represented by the American Immigration Council, the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Gibbs Houston Pauw, Sunbird Law, PLLC, Scott D. Pollock & Associates, PC, and Van der Hout, Brigigliano & Nightingale, LLP.

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Press Contact: Wendy Feliz, American Immigration Council at 202-812-2499 or [email protected] or Chris Strawn 206-957-8628 or [email protected]

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