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H-1B visas, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, USCIS


Immigration Law | Litigation


The denial rate for H-1B petitions has quadrupled over the past few years, increasing from six percent in fiscal year (FY) 2015 to twenty-four percent in FY 2018. After President Trump issued his ‘‘Buy American and Hire American’’ executive order in April 2017, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has effectively raised the standard of proof on H-1B petitions.

USCIS has used several reasons to deny H-1B petitions, including claims that the employer failed to show that a position qualifies as a ‘‘specialty occupation,’’ impermissibly assigned employees to third-party worksites, or failed to pay the required wage.

Under USCIS’s recent approach, many H-1B petitioners are virtually faced with a ‘‘preordained denial’’ regardless of how well they respond to requests for evidence (RFEs) or appeal their denial to the USCIS Administrative Appeals Office (AAO). More and more H-1B petitioners have challenged the legality of H-1B denials by filing complaints in federal court. Many have succeeded in getting their H-1B denials reversed.

We have compiled a spreadsheet of over fifty federal court cases brought against USCIS in the last two years concerning H-1B denials. This article presents the litigation trends we have observed and offers strategies for immigration attorneys considering litigation to challenge an H-1B denial.

The bottom line: sue!