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February 13, 2015
  Prasad v. Holder -- Fourth Circuit
Headline: Fourth Circuit Lying in Repose - Court Refuses to Equitably Toll Immigration Deadline

Area of Law: Immigration, Civil Procedure

Issue Presented: Whether § 1255(i) of the Immigration and Naturalization Act, which allows unlawful residents to adjust their status if, inter alia, they are the beneficiary of a labor-certification application filed on or before April 30, 2001, is a statute of limitations or a statute of repose.

Brief Summary: Petitioner Prasad is an unlawful Indian immigrant. 8 U.S.C. § 1255(i) permits the readjustment of status for certain eligible unlawful immigrants. To qualify for this readjustment, one of the statutory requirements is that the petitioner must show that his employer filed a labor-certification application on his behalf by April 30, 2001. Prasad's employer, through its attorney Earl Davis, filed a labor-certification application for Prasad two months late. Mr. Davis was later permanently disbarred and convicted for immigration fraud. In 2007, with different counsel, Mr. Prasad formally filed for readjustment of his status. His petition was denied because his labor-certification application was filed late, and therefore Mr. Prasad could not qualify under the § 1255(i) exception. Removal proceedings against him began. Mr. Prasad renewed his application for readjustment at the removal proceeding. The immigration judge ("IJ") denied the application. Mr. Prasad filed a motion to reopen and reconsider, arguing that the statutory deadline should be equitably tolled due Mr. Davis' ineffective assistance. The IJ denied this motion, as did the Board of Immigration Appeals ("BIA"). The BIA stated that the deadline operates as a statute of repose rather than a statute of limitations, and therefore cannot be equitably tolled. Mr. Prasad appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. He argued that the BIA misinterpreted the nature of § 1255(i).

The Fourth Circuit found that § 1255(i) has all the hallmarks of a statute of repose and therefore is not subject to equitable tolling. A statute of repose is part of a statutory scheme that creates and frames a substantive right. To avoid interference with legislative intent, statutes of repose are not equitably tolled for any reason. On the other hand, a statute of limitations is merely a procedural defense that is not considered when determining whether a substantive right exists. The time limit a statute of limitations imposes varies from plaintiff to plaintiff based on when the claim accrued. In contrast, a statute of repose mandates the same deadline for everyone. Congress could have allowed certain petitioners to file their applications late, but specifically chose not to. Therefore, as § 8 U.S.C. 1255(i) is a statute of repose, it cannot be equitably tolled, and the Fourth Circuit denied Mr. Prasad's claim.

To read the full opinion please click here.

Panel: Judges Duncan, Agee, and Harris

Argument Date: 12/10/2014

Date of Issued Opinion: 01/12/2015

Docket Number: No. 14-1034

Decided: Denied in part and dismissed in part.

Case Alert Author: Roy Lyford-Pike, Univ. of Maryland Carey School of Law

Counsel: Mark A. Mancini, WASSERMAN, MANCINI & CHANG, Washington, D.C., for Petitioner. Walter Bocchini, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Washington, D.C., for Respondent. ON BRIEF: Stuart F. Delery, Assistant Attorney General, LindaS. Wernery, Assistant Director, Office of Immigration Litigation, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Washington, D.C., for Respondent.

Author: Judge Harris

Case Alert Circuit Supervisor: Professor Renée M. Hutchins

    Posted By: Renee Hutchins @ 02/13/2015 03:36 PM     4th Circuit  

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