Court Approves Settlement in Class Action Lawsuit on Employment Authorization for Asylum Seekers

Los Angeles-based U.S. Immigration attorney’s office, JCS Immigration and Visa Law Office monitors immigration news constantly to ensure that our clients are always informed on important immigration matters.

Today a U.S. District Judge ordered the final approval of a nationwide class action settlement agreement. The settlement is aimed to ensure that asylum seekers, who have fled persecution in their home countries, are not unlawfully prevented from working and supporting their families while the government adjudicates their cases. These changes will commence on December 3, 2013.

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Our immigration lawyers have learned that the agreement stems from a case filed in December 2011 by the American Immigration Council and the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP) along with some other law groups. The complaint challenged widespread problems with the “asylum clock”, which is the system that government agencies use to determine when immigrant asylum applicants may obtain permission to work lawfully in the United States.

The lawsuit alleged that the current system unlawfully denies asylum applicants the opportunity to obtain employment authorization if their asylum applications have been pending for six months or longer. Some end up waiting several months or even years for the government to make a decision on their asylum applications.

“Under the settlement agreement, the process for getting work permits will be more transparent and fair, and the government will be more accountable for errors in determining asylum seekers’ eligibility for work authorization,” according to Mary Kenney, Senior Staff Attorney with the American Immigration Council.

“We are very excited that after the Court’s order, we are only four weeks away from changes that will help thousands of asylum seekers, people who were placed in desperate circumstances, unable to seek employment to support themselves and their families while waiting for their asylum applications to be resolved,” said Chris Strawn, director of the asylum unit at NWIRP.

Among the benefits of the settlement, asylum seekers with immigration court cases may now present their asylum application to the Court immediately, without having to wait months for an initial hearing before an Immigration Judge.

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