A new $350 million lawsuit challenges H-1B visa fees


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IT companies seek refund of unlawful collection of fees by USCIS.

Some US information technology companies have sued the United States Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS) for recovery of millions of dollars charged in unlawful H-1B visa fees.

Filed in the US District Court for the District of Columbia on Jan 26, the suit claims that USCIS charged tech companies $350 million in increased H-1B visa fees over the past six years, when it may not have had the authority to do so.

The plaintiff IT companies — ITServe Alliance, iTech US, SmartWorks and Saxon Global – are now seeking a refund from the USCIS itself.

The lawsuit against USCIS was filed on behalf of the plaintiffs by Jonathan Wasden and Bradley Banias of Wasden Banias LLC. Talking to the American Bazaar, attorney Bradley Banias, who has filed the lawsuit says, “With this suit, ITServe is putting the Agency on notice that it will not stand by and allow the Agency’s arbitrary policies and fees to harm its members. ITServe is taking the lead in protecting United States companies from business-killing policies.”

According to the plaintiffs’ argument, USCIS is responsible for unlawfully charging the companies a fee of $4,000 for H-1B change of status, even while its employees are inside the United States.

The plaintiffs argue that the fee should have only been charged at the time an H-1B professional first entered the US.

The basis of the lawsuit rests on a bill that was passed by the House of Representatives in 2010. The bill categorically says the fee is required for the “application for admission.”

In 2015 another bill increased the fee to $4,000. The plaintiffs based on the language argue that “admission” would mean entry of an alien inside the country and an application for change of status is not an application for admission.

On this basis, the IT companies argue that the fees charge for H-1B change of status should be ruled arbitrary and capricious and the USCIS should refund the excess amount collected over past six years.

According to the plaintiffs the amount owed by the agency could be to the tune of $350 million.


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