Class Action Lawsuit Filed Over EAD Delays

A nationwide, class action lawsuit has been filed against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for delays in the adjudication of employment authorization documents (EADs). This lawsuit, captioned Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP) v. USCIS, asserts that the EAD delays and failure to issue interim EADs are unlawful.

APA Violations Alleged in Lawsuit

The plaintiffs in NWIRP v USCIS claim that, by failing to timely adjudicate EAD applications, the USCIS is violating the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), a law that governs how federal agencies must act. The APA allows an individual to sue a federal agency if s/he is being harmed by that agency’s action or inaction. Options for using different types of federal lawsuits to address immigration problems are discussed in greater detail in the MurthyDotCom Blog entry, MLF Attorney Teaches Fellow Lawyers in APA/Mandamus Webinar (28.Mar.2014).

Regulations Mandate EAD Issuance or Interim EADs

Regulations require the USCIS to either adjudicate an EAD application within a fixed time period (90 days, in most cases) or provide interim employment authorization to the applicant if that timeframe has lapsed. For many years, the agency followed the practice of issuing interim EADs via local field offices when processing delays occurred. However, the USCIS ceased this practice a number of years ago, despite the fact that EAD processing delays continue to create serious problems for many foreign national applicants.

Class of Plaintiffs Sought

The plaintiffs have requested that the court grant them class certification. If granted, this would mean that the plaintiffs would be deemed representatives of all noncitizens who have filed or will file EAD applications that were not, or will not be, adjudicated within the regulatory timeframe. Ultimately, the plaintiffs are asking that the court order the USCIS to adjudicate all EAD applications within the prescribed timeframe and to issue “… interim employment authorization to individual plaintiffs and all proposed class members in cases where the regulatory time period has elapsed.”


This class action APA lawsuit shows the power that the U.S. legal system grants U.S. citizens and foreign nationals, alike. If a federal agency has published rules that set forth clear requirements for case processing, those who are negatively affected by violations of these rules can challenge the government in court. The plaintiffs in this case are taking on a longstanding problem, and the result has the potential of benefiting many besides those named. MurthyDotCom will provide updates on this lawsuit as information becomes available.


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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.