A top American association of immigration lawyers has filed a class action lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security for extraordinary delays in processing employment authorisation documents (EADs) of spouses of foreign workers in the country on H-1B and L1 visas, a significantly large number of whom are technology professionals from India.
"The delays that H-4 and L-2 non-immigrants are facing needlessly place families in financial limbo," said Jennifer Minear, president of American Immigration Lawyers Association or AILA, which has filed the class action lawsuit against the DHS along with Wasden Banias.
The DHS has the legal tools and authority to grant work authorisation to impacted individuals whose financial security is hanging in the balance, and it should immediately begin to use those tools to provide solutions, Minear said.
The DHS can and must revoke the unnecessary biometric requirements for H-4 and L-2 non-immigrants, provide automatic work authorisation while it processes EAD renewal requests, and allow EAD applicants to file their renewal applications sooner than 180 days prior to expiration to prevent gaps in work authorisation, she demanded.
Jesse Bless, AILA's director of Federal Litigation said that in 2019, the Trump administration implemented a new biometric requirement for H-4 and L-2 and other dependents seeking to extend their stay in the US.
These new requirements added to the already extraordinary processing delays, which were further exacerbated by COVID-19 restrictions. The process to attain work authorisation should not put families at the risk of immense loss of income and instability, he said.
"There are reasonable and immediate steps that the DHS can take to make certain that visa holders meet requirements without imposing needless suffering. We hope to work with the government on immediate solutions to get these individuals back to work," Bless said.