IT trade group sues USCIS for overreach and abuse of power over H-1B

ITServe Alliance challenges USCIS policy of approving short-term visas.

A trade group representing more than a thousand information technology companies has filed a lawsuit against the US Citizenship and Immigration Services over the H-1B visa program, accusing the agency of overreach and abuse of power.

In the lawsuit filed on Friday, ITServe Alliance, based in Irving, TX, argues that the USCIS has unlawfully usurped the power of the US Department of Labor in determining the duration of H-1B visas and has gone beyond the scope of the law when it comes to granting the visas.

The USCIS, in a memorandum issued on February 22, 2018, had set additional conditions for approving H-1B.

One of the new conditions was a requirement to enclose contracts along with the petition as evidence to show that the potential H-1B holder “will be employed in a specialty occupation.”

READ: Indian American H-1B sub-contractors file lawsuit against USCIS over policy memo (May 4, 2018)

The second requirement was submitting contracts and itineraries to prove that employees placed at “third-party worksites” have “assignments in a specialty occupation” for the “entire time requested on the petition.”

In the lawsuit, ITServe Alliance alleges that the USCIS has since then begun approving H-1B visas for time periods shorter than three years, and, in some cases, it has approved petitions valid for only months or days at a time. On occasions, the suit said, the duration of the visas expired by the time the petitioner received the approval.

Visit: The American Bazaar’s H-1B archive

According to the lawsuit, the USCIS has no authority to shorten the duration of the approval. It says Congress granted the power of determining the duration to the Department of Labor, which routinely grants three-year approvals.

The lawsuit also challenges the requirement of the itinerary.

In a statement published by a website, ITServe Alliance President Gopi Kandukuri said, “USCIS has been making arbitrary rules and memos for over eight years, it’s our top priority to set things right and hold USCIS accountable to follow the regulations set by the Unites States Congress.”

He added that his member companies “are tired of receiving random denials for no reason and the new battlefield for us is the federal courthouse and not USCIS service centers.”

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