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Lawsuit filed after DOS reneges on immigration plan

On Sept. 28, a lawsuit was filed seeking class-action status for thousands of highly skilled immigrants in South Carolina and nationwide who were left in the lurch when the U.S. government reneged on a promise to let them apply for green cards in October. Many of the immigrants, who are mostly from India and China, had already paid expensive medical and legal fees that are required as part of the application process.

In 2014, President Barack Obama signed an executive order meant to improve and simplify the country's immigration system. To that end, the State Department issued a directive on Sept. 9 listing the categories of immigrants who could apply for a green card on Oct. 1. The move was anticipated to clear years of backlogged applications from India and China out of the system.

Following the directive, immigrants across the nation began preparing their green card applications, which require thousands of dollars of medical exams, vaccinations and legal fees. However, the State Department inexplicably reversed its decision on Sept. 25 and severely limited the types of people who could apply for permanent residency.

The class-action claim was filed by attorneys on behalf of 15 named plaintiffs. The legal team estimates that between 20,000 and 30,000 immigrants were affected by the reversal. Most of them have advanced degrees and are employed at top-level tech and medical firms.

The application process for visas and other immigration documents can be complex and protracted. Companies and individuals who are seeking guidance on the steps to obtaining a work visa or other immigration issues may want to seek the assistance of an attorney who has experience with these matters.

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