American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has filed a lawsuit to force USCIS to allow automatic visa extensions for legal workers and visitors stuck in the USA due to an ongoing COVID-19 emergency.
This litigation includes H1B, L, H4, L2, F1, B1/B2, and all other legal visa holders.
The case filed in District Court for the District of Columbia is requesting USCIS to:
- Immediately suspend current visa deadlines.
- Automatic extension of visa to maintain current visa status for all conditional Green card holders, students (F1 visa), nonimmigrant workers (H1B, L, H2, etc), recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and those with Temporary Protected Status.
- Automatic extension of H1B, L work visa by 90 days after the emergency ends. This means to get an extra 90 days of legal status as and when Trump declares end of national emergency.
AILA chose to file the lawsuit as their request to USCIS on March 23, 2020, to implement the extensions for the benefit of the general public went unheard.
USCIS Has Powers To Allow Extensions
AILA Director of Federal Litigation Jesse Bless believes that USCIS has every power to immediately and temporarily change all immigration-related deadlines and expiration of status for lawfully admitted foreign nationals.
AILA members feel that the ability of immigration attorneys to effectively work without violating state orders is highly restricted. The current environment also risks the safety and health of their staff and their clients.
AILA has been voicing their support for all non-immigrants including nurses and healthcare workers that are stressed due to their expiring visa status. Unfortunately, USCIS has not announced any relief for automatic visa extensions even when travel outside the USA is severely restricted.
Problems In CoronaVirus
People who’s H1B extension has been denied during Coronavirus with an expired i94 are left with no option but to stay illegally in the US when there is a risk of traveling with small kids.
Several elderly B2 visitors who are visiting their kids in the US are scared to leave as they are prone to catching Coronavirus easily due to their age.
AILA President Marketa Lindt said in a press release, “Across the country, immigration attorneys and their clients are being forced to choose between missing a filing deadline and violating stay at home orders and exposing themselves, their staff and their clients to a deadly illness. USCIS must join many other federal agencies in extending its filing deadlines so that lawfully present foreign nationals in the United States can maintain status during this national crisis. By refusing to do so, USCIS is needlessly endangering lives.”
It is sad to hear that several Indian Doctors have contacted attorneys to create their will and have asked to help get their family a Green card if they die treating COVID-19 patients.
Attorney Request USCIS to Extend Visas
Lawyer Cyrus Mehta announced that he helped frame the lawsuit and is happy to help the non-immigrant community:
Leon Fresco, an immigrant attorney, had also created his 10 point list for USCIS to give an interim relief for legal visa workers.
Read AILA Lawsuit Full text here.