10 Civ 02029 (NCG)(MSG)

NYLAG filed this class action in 2010 against the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) and the Department of Homeland Security on behalf of a class of immigrants granted asylum in the United States who are seeking to bring their spouses and children to this country.  The lawsuit challenges a USCIS policy that threatens to deprive asylees of the opportunity to reunite their families in the United States.

Federal law enables asylees to petition the government to allow their spouses and unmarried children to join them in this country.  Once the petitions are approved, relatives living abroad must appear at a U.S. consulate to obtain authorization to travel to the United States.  Until recently, if a relative did not appear at a consulate or did not bring the requested documents, the approved petition was held until the relative could appear with the documents.  The policy was changed so that when a relative did not appear at the consulate or bring the requested documents, USCIS automatically reopened and denied the petition that it had previously approved.  This lawsuit challenged USCIS’s new asylee family reunification policy, charging the agency with acting in violation of its own regulations, taking actions that are arbitrary and capricious, and implementing a new policy without providing proper notice to the public.

Soon after the case was filed, the parties entered into settlement negotiations.  In late February of 2013, Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis of the Eastern District Court of New York approved a final settlement.  Pursuant to the settlement agreement, USCIS agreed to reopen I-730 petitions that were previously approved but then reopened and denied because the beneficiary did not appear for processing at the U.S. embassy or consulate.  Further, USCIS agreed that it will not deny I-730 petitions going forward, and instead will hold I-730 petitions when a beneficiary does not appear at a U.S. embassy or consulate for an interview and processing.  The I-730 petition will continue to be processed when the individual who filed the petition notifies USCIS that the relative is available to appear.

NYLAG Attorneys: Jane Greengold Stevens, Jennifer Magida, Melissa Chua

Links:

View the USCIS Press Release about Settlement