Immigrants have filed a federal class action lawsuit against the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security over revisions to the October Visa Bulletin that rolled back eligible dates for several categories of employment-based and family-based immigrants to file applications for green cards.

The named plaintiffs, high-skilled immigrants from India and China, argue that they spent thousands of dollars on medical exams, document preparation, legal fees and other expenses in anticipation of eligibility to file for permanent residency Oct. 1, as published in the original October Visa Bulletin released Sept. 9. Under the revised bulletin, released Sept. 25, they were no longer eligible.

“Defendants broke their promise,” according to the complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle. The State Department “abruptly revised the Visa Bulletin, significantly altering several of the filing dates, and leaving plaintiffs and potentially thousands of others without recourse.”

The revisions affect nationals of China and India in the EB-2 preference category, nationals of the Philippines in the EB-3 category and nationals of Mexico in the first and third preference family-based categories. The plaintiffs are asking the court to strike down the revised bulletin and compel U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to accept applications according to the State Department’s original Sept. 9 Visa Bulletin.

Similar events took place in June 2007, when the State Department issued a Visa Bulletin allowing certain employment-based immigrants to file for green cards, but reversed itself days later. USCIS decided to accept the applications after protests, calls for a Congressional probe and the filing of a class action lawsuit.

BAL Analysis: BAL is continuing to monitor the situation and work with the government on this issue.

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