Thousands of people who applied for H-4 EAD visas that authorize them to work in the US are facing job loss because the US authorities have stopped printing the EAD (employment authorization documents (EAD) card, and the Trump administration is facing a lawsuit against it.
President Obama, in an executive order passed in 2015, had allowed eligible H-4 spouses of H-1B holders to obtain work permits through the H-4 EAD program.
The attorney who has filed the case has accused United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) of abuse of power “in an egregious and outrageous manner.”
Ranjitha Subramanya, an Indian citizen and H-4 EAD visa holder, finding no response from the USCIS after repeated query and fearing job loss, has filed a class-action case in the Southern District of Ohio.
The suit has been filed against the USCIS, USCIS acting director Ken Cuccinelli, and Ernest Destefano, chief of the Office of Intake and Document Production, USCIS.
“We are asking the court for an order requiring that USCIS produce the EAD within seven days of approval,” Robert H. Cohen of Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP, who has filed the case on behalf of Subramanya, told indica News.
He said Subramanya’s application for an EAD was approved April 7 and the card was not produced until after they filed the class-action lawsuit July 22.
“She still has not received the EAD,” Cohen told indica News.
Asked about the number of people impacted by the document denial, Cohen said: “While we don’t know the number of people in the class, we understand that it may be as many as 75,000 applicants are waiting for the card to be produced.”
While waiting for the production of the EAD the applicants are not authorized to work, he pointed out. They have either had to stop working if their prior authorization has expired or they are not able to begin work.
“Many have lost their jobs because they were unable to demonstrate employment authorization,” Cohen said.
According to the lawsuit, Subramanya was forced to stop working for her employer after her initial EAD expired June 7, 2020. She came to the US on an H-1B specialty occupation visa to work at Nationwide Insurance, and later changed her status to an H-4 visa.
Her husband has his H-1B visa valid until June 2023, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit says Subramanya’s employer has notified her that she will lose her job if she does not provide proof of employment authorization by August 9, 2020.
The court document states that because USCIS has significantly slowed and/or stopped printing EADs, which are essential for the plaintiff (Subramanya) and approximately 75,000 putative class members to obtain or keep their jobs, the plaintiff seeks emergency relief that requires defendants to print and issue the EADs immediately, and in no event later than seven days from the date of the court’s order.
According to law360.com, the ombudsman for the USCIS confirmed in an alert last Wednesday that the agency had “reduced its capacity to print secure documents,” such as work permits and permanent residency cards, after ending its contract with a third-party company that previously printed the cards.
According to the alert, USCIS had planned to hire federal employees to take over the printing, but that effort has stalled due to the agency’s projected financial troubles.
The USCIS, which is primarily fee-funded, has projected a $1.2-billion budget shortfall as a result of declining immigration applications during the pandemic and is requesting a bailout from Congress.
The USCIS “expects these backlogs will continue for the foreseeable future,” the alert says.