Updates for ASAP Members on the Tony N. v. USCIS Lawsuit

Last updated on January 12, 2022.

ASAP members: In November of 2021, ASAP filed a lawsuit to end processing delays of work permit renewals. The name of the lawsuit is Tony N. v. USCIS. You can also read more information about the lawsuit here.

Here are the latest updates about Tony N. v. USCIS:

December 23, 2021 Update — This update is still current as of January 12, 2022.

Unfortunately, the judge has issued a negative decision in this case. This decision was an intermediate decision, not a final decision, so the lawsuit could continue in 2022. You can read the full decision here. We are very sorry to share this bad news.

The decision had two parts. First, we told the judge that this issue of slow work permit renewals is an emergency, and we asked the judge to tell USCIS to speed up processing right away. The judge said she does not think the issue is an emergency and she is not ready to tell USCIS to work more quickly at this time.

Second, we asked the judge to let asylum seekers sue the government as one big group, also known as a “class.” We asked for this because we wanted to make sure that any rights won in this lawsuit could be used by all asylum seekers, instead of only applying to the five individuals named in the lawsuit. Unfortunately, the judge did not allow asylum seekers to sue as a group at this time.

We are not finished fighting back against these delays. Many ASAP members attended the hearing on December 17 by phone or computer, and they shared powerful ideas about the best way to solve this problem. Some members asked for automatic extensions of current work permits. Others asked for the government to simplify the process because it is too complicated.

We will continue to fight for faster processing of work permits, both in court and in other ways. We know it is incredibly difficult to exist in this country without a work permit. We are so sorry the judge did not issue a better decision, and we will do everything in our power to fix this problem so that all of our members can work in the United States.

December 16, 2021 Update

You can listen to or watch the court hearing on December 17 by following the instructions below. 

Up to 500 people, including ASAP members, can listen to or watch the court hearing by computer or phone. The hearing will be in English. You will not be asked to speak or say who you are when you join the call.

To listen to the hearing by phone:

  • Call (646) 828-7666.
  • If you are asked to enter a Meeting ID, use this Meeting ID: 160 626 1089.
  • If you are asked to enter a password, use this password: 091644.
  • When you call in, you will be able to hear what is happening, but the court will not be able to see or hear you.

To watch a live video of the hearing on your computer or phone:

  • Before you can join the meeting, you should download the Zoom app on your computer or phone.
  • Click on this link to join the video call: https://cand-uscourts.zoomgov.com/j/1606261089?pwd=Q3k3SEx5WC9BSm1FSWswOWM4bnB3Zz09#success.
  • If you are asked to enter a Meeting ID, use this Meeting ID: 160 626 1089.
  • If you are asked to enter a password, use this password: 091644.
  • When you call in, you will be able to hear and see the hearing, but the court will not be able to see or hear you.

Anyone is allowed to listen to the hearing or watch the hearing. You will not need to provide your name or any personal information. For more information, you can visit the court’s website on attending virtual hearings here: https://www.cand.uscourts.gov/zoom/.

December 8, 2021 Update

ASAP members filed a lawsuit to ask USCIS to process work permit renewal applications more quickly. 

ASAP members told us their ideas for how to change the asylum process, and receiving a work permit faster was one of members’ top priorities. Many ASAP members also contacted us by email to tell us about delays with USCIS renewing their work permits, including members who had been waiting over 10 months. It became clear that ASAP members were ready and willing to fight for their ability to work, and that delays in work permit renewals were a serious issue for many members. We worked with ASAP members to file a lawsuit to end these delays on November 10, 2021! The lawsuit is called Tony N. v. USCIS. You can learn more information about the case at the Tony N. v. USCIS case page.

ASAP members filed 3 documents to start the lawsuit:

  1. Civil Complaint: This document describes the problem and talks about how USCIS has hurt asylum seekers by delaying their work permits.
  2. Motion to Certify Nationwide Class: This document talks about why asylum seekers are suing USCIS as a group and why the court should order USCIS to fix this problem for all asylum seekers, not just a few.
  3. Motion for Preliminary Injunction: This document talks about why the court should resolve this problem as soon as possible.

5 ASAP members bravely shared their stories in order to start the lawsuit. 

There are 5 ASAP members who are currently serving as plaintiffs in this case and suing USCIS. They are hoping that the court will decide that USCIS must process work permit renewal applications faster for all asylum seekers.

ASAP identified these 5 plaintiffs by sending a survey to all ASAP members in October 2021 to ask if they would be interested in participating in the lawsuit. More than 200 members replied to say they were interested in being a plaintiff. ASAP chose 5 plaintiffs from this group based on how much time they could spend on the case, how long their work permit applications had been pending, and other factors.

The plaintiffs are a truck driver from East Africa, a children’s behavioral health therapist from Venezuela, a doctor from Armenia, a computer technician, and a fast food restaurant manager from El Salvador.

ASAP members, including the plaintiffs, have bravely spoken out against these delays. You can read about this case and members’ advocacy in articles in CNN, The Washington Post, and Bloomberg Law.

Thousands of ASAP members shared information about work permit delays to make this lawsuit possible.

Thousands of ASAP members filled out a survey to tell ASAP how long they had waited for USCIS to renew their work permits. Together, the members identified that more than 400 of them had been waiting over 180 days for USCIS to renew their work permits. Almost 200 members said that they had lost their jobs, or would soon lose their jobs, if their work permits were not renewed before their automatic extensions ended. As a result, ASAP was able to show the court what a big problem USCIS has caused.

Many ASAP members signed up to receive extra updates about the lawsuit, and you can sign up to receive extra updates, too.

More than 2,000 members asked to receive extra updates about this lawsuit, in addition to the monthly update that you are reading now. These members were the first to find out when the lawsuit was filed. If you would like to receive extra updates about this lawsuit, you can sign up to receive extra updates here.

If you already receive these extra updates and would like to stop receiving them, you can ask to stop receiving extra updates here.

The judge has scheduled a hearing on December 17, and you can try to listen or watch it. 

The judge has now scheduled a first hearing for the case. At the hearing, we will present our argument about why USCIS must stop the delays, and USCIS will present their argument against us.

We do not know if the judge will make a decision about this case on December 17. However, we hope that she will work quickly to make a decision before the end of December. If the judge agrees with ASAP, she may force USCIS to end the delays. If she does not agree with ASAP, she may not force USCIS to do anything. Whatever happens, we will let you know, and we will keep fighting to make sure work permit renewal applications are processed more quickly.

The court should make it possible for at least 100 people, including ASAP members, to listen to or watch the hearing by computer or phone. The hearing will be in English. We will share more information about how to listen to the hearing on this page on December 16, the day before the hearing. If you are interested, please check this page again on December 16 for details!

We will also text and email members who have signed up for extra updates about this lawsuit. If you have not signed up for these updates but you would like to receive them, you can sign up for extra updates here.

USCIS tried to delay the hearing, but ASAP asked the Court to move faster and the Court agreed with ASAP.

USCIS said they needed to wait until January to have this hearing. ASAP told the judge we disagreed with USCIS because it is important to ASAP members to resolve this case as quickly as possible. The judge agreed with ASAP and scheduled the hearing for December 17!

Thank you to all of the ASAP members who made this lawsuit possible! 

We are grateful for the opportunity to work together to make work permits available for all asylum seekers.