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Alobaid v. Jaddou: Challenging arbitrary barriers to the reunification of Syrian refugee families

This case challenges a government policy preventing Syrian refugees from accessing a family reunification pathway created to bypass years-long visa backlogs. 

Our clients

Our plaintiffs are two U.S. citizens who came to the United States as refugees from Syria and are trying to reunite with siblings they were forced to leave behind.  As refugees in Jordan, their siblings and their families face harassment, abuse, and discrimination and live in fear that they could be sent back to Syria.  

As citizens, the plaintiffs are eligible to bring their siblings to the United States through the family-sponsored immigrant visa process. They have started the first part of this process: filing a form called an “I-130 petition” to confirm their relationship to their siblings. Because of statutory visa caps and the large backlog, however, their siblings will not be able to start the second part of the process—applying for an immigrant visa—for years, if not decades, even if their I-130 petitions are approved.

Recognizing these delays and the humanitarian concerns at stake, the U.S. government created a faster option for Syrian refugees in the family-sponsored visa pipeline to reunite with their relatives in the United States. This special program, the Priority-2 Direct Access Program for Iraqi and Syrian beneficiaries of an approved Form I-130 Petition (I-130 P-2 DAP), allows Syrian refugees who have cleared the initial stage of getting I-130 approval to come to the United States as refugees without needing to wait for a visa to be available.

Unfortunately, neither of the plaintiffs’ siblings can apply for this special program because the government has yet to adjudicate their I-130 petitions under its arbitrary processing policy–under which it defers adjudication of an I-130 petition based on the current availability of immigrant visas (backlogged for many years), even for those petitioners, like Plaintiffs, who have indicated that their relatives intend to use their I-130 approval to apply for the refugee program now and do not require a visa to do so.

Impact

The government’s policy of refusing to adjudicate I-130 petitions based on visa availability is arbitrary and unlawful as applied to petitioners whose relatives intend to use their approved I-130 petition to access the refugee program.  This case seeks to bar the government from applying this policy to the plaintiffs so that their siblings can avail themselves of the special refugee pathway created for families like theirs and join the plaintiffs in safety in the United States together.

Case status

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