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Adjustment of Status for Asylees (Ngwanyia Class Action)

Last Updated: 
Monday, November 14, 2011

Ngwanyia v. Gonzales was a national class action challenging the legacy Immigration and Nationalization Services’ (INS) failure to properly – and in a timely manner – grant lawful permanent statuts to individuals who had been granted asylum. When the suit was filed, more than 100,000 asylees had applied to adjust their status to lawful permanent residence but remained on a waiting list for an “asylee adjustment number” to become available.  Many had been on the waiting list for years. The lawsuit alleged that, over the course of ten years, the immigration agency failed to use the full ten thousand asylee adjustment numbers made available each year and that, as a result, approximately 30,000 asylee adjustment numbers remained available to adjust the status of those on the waiting list.

CASE HIGHLIGHTS AND COURT DOCUMENTS

Proceedings in District Court

On March 4, 2002, plaintiffs filed a complaint asking the District Court for the District of Minnesota to find that all asylee adjustment numbers that had been made available in past years but had not been used remained available and to order the agency to use these numbers to adjust asylees on the waiting list. After denying the government’s motion to transfer the case to the District Court for the District of Columbia, the court granted plaintiffs’ motion for class certification and subsequently granted plaintiffs motion for summary judgment. The government appealed this decision to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. While the appeal was pending, the parties settled the suit and, following notice to the class, the district court approved the settlement.