Lawyers plan class action over work visas

July 6, 2007 at 1:33 PM
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WASHINGTON, July 6 (UPI) -- A group of U.S. immigration lawyers announced a class-action lawsuit against the federal government for refusing thousands of highly skilled workers.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association is suing the U.S. State Department and Citizenship and Immigration Services for denying work-based permanent visa applications from thousands of skilled workers who were encouraged to apply by the U.S. government, The New York Times reported Friday.

Federal officials said the litigation was the result of a misunderstanding between the two agencies as they tried to reduce massive backlogs of applications for permanent residence visas.

"Was there a lack of communication between us and the State Department?" said William Wright, a spokesman for the immigration agency. "Certainly."

The immigration lawyers filing the suit said the reversal over the permanent visas is an unprecedented step that violates the immigration agency's regulations. They said the move unfairly punishes law-abiding immigrants.

"They've played by the rules for years," said Daryl Buffenstein, co-chairman of the global immigration practice at law firm Paul Hastings. "Now the government is not playing by the rules."

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