A judge has ordered that United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must adjudicate work authorization applications for asylum seekers within the prescribed 30-day deadline.
In Rosario v. USCIS, a federal district court judge in Seattle found USCIS’s delay unreasonable and ordered the agency to adjudicate asylum seekers’ initial employment authorization applications within 30 days of filing.
Asylum seekers must wait 150 days after filing their asylum applications to be eligible to apply for work authorization. Then, USCIS must act on their applications for work authorization within 30 days after applying. USCIS has regularly failed to adhere to this deadline, often delaying adjudication of 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.
“This decision helps many vulnerable asylum seekers and gives them the opportunity to work and support themselves and their families while their asylum applications are pending,” said Trina Realmuto, directing attorney at the American Immigration Council.
“Asylum-seekers already face so many difficulties in getting their cases heard. When a decision on their case is delayed, it negatively impacts their ability to support family and build a life here in the United States,” said Chris Strawn, staff attorney with the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project.
“We are hopeful that this decision will enable class members to promptly receive the work authorization documents to which they are entitled under law,” stated Devin T. Theriot-Orr, principal attorney at Sunbird Law, PLLC.
Members of the class are represented by the American Immigration Council, the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Sunbird Law, PLLC, and Van Der Hout, Brigagliano & Nightingale, LLP. The named plaintiffs also are represented by Scott D. Pollock & Associates, PC, and Gibbs Houston Pauw.
The judgment can be found here. The court’s decision is not yet publicly available.