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Freshfields wins class certification judgment for Afghan and Iraqi nationals

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP (‘Freshfields’), in partnership with the International Refugee Assistance Project (‘IRAP’), has won a second victory for Afghans and Iraqis who have faced mortal danger for helping U.S. forces and have experienced delays of several years with their applications for Special Immigrant Visas (‘SIV’).
The SIV program was created by Congress in 2008 for Iraqis and in 2009 for Afghans in order to provide a legal pathway to safety for local U.S. allies who are the target of militias and other anti-U.S. forces as a result of their work with the U.S. government.

On 20 September 2019, U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan ruled that the delays the applicants experienced, especially given the danger they are in, were unreasonable. Judge Chutkan granted summary judgment in the plaintiffs’ favor and ordered the U.S. government to prepare a plan to adjudicate the pending SIV applications within 30 days of a final ruling on class certification.

On 6 February 2020, the Freshfields team (in partnership with IRAP) won class certification for Afghan and Iraqi SIV applicants, with the US District Court also denying the government’s motion for reconsideration of the prior summary judgment ruling. Plaintiffs can immediately begin negotiating with the Departments of State and Homeland Security to secure a plan to efficiently adjudicate the SIVs of thousands of applicants. This case is the first class action to be brought on behalf of SIV applicants whose applications have been pending longer than nine months. This decision is critical for SIV applicants seeking refuge in the United States and will ensure that the defendants are no longer able to avoid adjudicating these applications.

The Freshfields team, consisting of partner Linda H. Martin, counsel David Y. Livshiz, associates Rebecca L. Curwin, Allison C. Wilson, Olivia Greene, and Alistair Blacklock, and former senior associate Shannon Leitner, with assistance from senior associate Laura Onken, and IRAP commenced the case in 2018. The case is Allies v. Pompeo, No. 18-cv-01388 (D.D.C.).


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