A class action law suit has been filed against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). This lawsuit came at a time where the process of obtaining work authorization has started to put numerous non-immigrant families at immense financial instability and aims at getting immediate solutions to get the individuals back to work. According to the lawsuit, close to 91,000 such people have lost jobs over the last couple of years, which accelerated amid the pandemic. The lawsuit further added that the US immigration agency “stalled processing visa extension, which, in turn, killed existing and future work authorization.” The lawsuit was filed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the US law firm Wasden Banias at the Western District Court of Washington, US.
An H-4 visa is issued by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to the immediate family members (spouse and children under 21 years of age) of H-1B visa holders, most of whom are IT professionals. An L-2 visa is a visa document used to enter the US by the dependent spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age of qualified L-1 visa holders. It is a non-immigrant visa, and is only valid for the duration of the spouse’s L-1 visa (L-1 is an intracompany transfer visa). The qualified H-4 and L-2 visa holders are eligible to work in the US by getting Employment Authorization Document (EAD). They work across sectors, including technology and non-IT roles.
The unnecessary delays have created a major barrier for the applicants who are finding it difficult to continue living in the USA. And in desperation to stay in status in the USA and in order to keep working, Applicants are forced into the vicious cycle of filing expedited requests. Despite the Applicant’s serious situation, the USCIS not being able to quicken the process. The USCIS response to Requests to Expedite read:
“The status of this service request is:
Due to the high volume of expedite requests for this case type, we are strictly enforcing the criteria that has been set for these expedite requests. While your situation appears serious, we are unable to expedite the processing of your Form I-765 due to the pending status of your Form I-539. Until such time as your Form I-539 has been successfully adjudicated, your Form I-765 must remain pending. Therefore, your request for expeditious processing has been denied.
This decision has no effect on the decision of your case. Your case is still pending adjudication.
We hope this information is helpful to you.”
This suit challenges the extraordinary delays in processing the extensions of statuses and extensions of employments authorization documents (EAD) for H-4 and L-2 non-immigrant spouses. These delays have been acutely affecting such the financial stability of such non-immigrant families. The Law suit is calling the DHS to grant work authorization to the impacted individuals so as to stabilize their financial security by using the legal tools at its disposal. It also calls for the DHS to revoke the unnecessary bio-metrics requirements for H-4 and L-2 non-immigrants, provide automatic work authorization while processing EAD renewals and allow EAD renewal applications to be filed sooner than 180 days prior to expiration so as to prevent gaps in work authorization.
The bio-metric requirements were added by the Trump administration in 2019 for H-4, L-2 and other dependents seeking for extension. These requirements added on to the already delayed processing caused and further exacerbated due to COVID-19.
We will regularly update the blog as soon as any new updates are available.
This article aims to provide new information. This article, under no circumstances, acts as legal advice; therefore, for any immigration questions, please contact your Attorney or the Ahluwalia Law Offices, P.C. (Team ALO).