Report: Lawsuit Charges Obama Admin. Visa Revision Cost Immigrants Millions

A new U.S. citizen holds an American flag during a naturalization ceremony in July. An Arizona law will require graduating high school seniors to pass the same civics test given to candidates for U.S. citizenship.
AP/Mark Lennihan

An update to a recent State Department visa bulletin leaves tens of thousands of high skilled immigrants unable to apply as planned for legal permanent residency this week.

According to the Associated Press, a new class-action lawsuit charges that the affected immigrants spent thousands of dollars believing they would be able to apply for permanent residency on Thursday, based on the unrevised Sept. 9 State Department bulletin. That bulletin explained what categories of immigrant could file for permanent residency this week.

The AP explains the content of the bulletin was part of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration last November and was intended to reduce a hefty backlog of applicants from China and India.

While many of those immigrants began to take the necessary steps for a green card, on September 25 the State Department revised the notice to cut the number of immigrants eligible to apply by changing initial application deadline requirements.

“This case is about what happens when thousands of law-abiding, highly skilled immigrants spend millions of dollars preparing to apply for green cards in reasonable reliance on an agency’s binding policy statement, only to find out at the last minute that a hapless federal bureaucracy has abruptly, inexplicably, and arbitrarily reneged on its promise,” reads the class-action lawsuit filed this week on behalf of 14 people and the International Medical Graduate Taskforce in Seattle.

The plaintiffs’ lawyers, according to the AP, estimate that up to 30,000 immigrants were affected by the decision.

Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-DC) and Mike Honda (D-CA) slammed the State Department’s update on Wednesday and cheered those suing over the change.

“Some applicants have already filed a class-action lawsuit challenging the agencies’ decision. We commend and support their efforts, and in the event this administration is unable or unwilling to provide them with equitable relief, hope the courts will do so instead,” the pair said.