Published August 24, 2019

D.C. Federal Court Reverses H-1B Visa Petition Denial

In the past week, a federal judge in Washington D.C. ruled that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Citizenship and Immigration Services (US CIS) must reverse its decision denying an H-1B visa petition filed on behalf of a data analyst by Lexis Nexis, a legal publishing company.  The court concluded that the petitioning employer, Lexis Nexis USA, presented sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the position qualified as a “specialty occupation” and thus was approvable for classification for H-1B visa status.

U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan ruled that US CIS violated the governing federal statute as it wrongfully premised its decision on the conclusion that the data analyst position at issue did not qualify as a ”specialty occupation”, since it is not a position that typically requires the job candidate to have a bachelor’s degree in a particular field.

Judge Sullivan ruled that a data analyst position such as the one at issue in the lawsuit, can still be H-1B approvable even when the university degree requirement does not specify a particular field, stating “(i)f the position requires the beneficiary to apply practical and theoretical specialized knowledge and a higher education degree, it meets the requirements. Nowhere in the statute does it require the degree to come solely from one particular academic discipline.”

The above case appears to represent a trend when it comes to H-1B visa petition adjudications these days.  Visa petition filings for occupations that have been approvable for decades now appear to be approached with a harder look by US CIS, although increased denial rates have brought an increase in federal court action challenging these decisions.  Thankfully, the judicial branch of our government is available to remedy wrongful denials of visa petitions that merit approval.  For more information on this case see RELX Inc. et al. v. Baran et al., case number 1:19-cv-01993, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

California Resident Convicted of H-1B Visa Fraud

This past week a federal jury found Abhijit Prasad of California guilty of multiple counts of visa fraud and aggravated identity theft.  The charging documents in the case alleged that Prasad submitted petitions to facilitate H-1B visa issuance for 19 foreign workers premised on false statements made under oath and fabricated job offers for work to be carried out at locations across California, including Cisco Systems.  Prasad’s fraudulent acts included forging Cisco Systems job offer documentation by using the digital signature of an unauthorized Cisco employee and by presenting a forged contract between his petitioning company and Cisco.

Sentencing is set for October and Prasad is facing the possibility of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the visa fraud conviction and 2 years prison and a $250,000 fine for the aggravated identity theft counts.

PUBLISHED August 11, 2019– “IMMIGRATION LAW FORUM” Copyright © 2019, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois