Employers Reach Settlement with the USCIS Over Arbitrary Denial of H-1B Petitions

A class-action lawsuit that challenged the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) practice of randomly disapproving nonimmigrant employment-based petitions for H-1B visas for jobs as market research analysts that were filed by businesses in the United States has come to an end. The class composed of businesses looking to end this practice has succeeded. 

The parties involved in the case have now come to an agreement on a settlement that centers upon correcting the agency’s misconceptions concerning the Occupational Outlook Handbook. This handbook is a publication of the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics that profiles hundreds of jobs in the job market in the United States.

Previously the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services had decided that market research analysts were not in a specialty occupation which, as most are probably aware, is a requirement for H-1B visas. As a part of the settlement, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will correct the error, and those U.S. employers who qualify can ask the USCIS to reopen and re-adjudicate the H-1B petitions that have previously been denied.

Employers that wanted to be class members had to have filed a market research analyst H-1B petition sometime from January 1st, 2019, through October 19th, 2021, which must have been denied due to an inaccurate finding that resulted from the inaccurate interpretation that was being used during this timeframe.

This decision will open up hundreds of positions that U.S. businesses were attempting to fill to potentially use H-1B workers. Now the businesses that previously had their H-1B applications denied will have another chance to have their applications approved. However, this time the decision will be made using the guidance both the USCIS and employers have worked out.

This represents a victory for these employers and the workers that they were attempting to sponsor. Plus, this case may help resolve an issue which immigration lawyers have struggled with the USCIS over for years, which is the difference between how the USCIS interprets the regulations for specialty occupations and how candidates’ specialty qualifications are actually judged in the free market. Some hope that this may prompt the USCIS to review their interpretations to bring them a little closer in line with employers.

It is important to keep in mind that receiving an H-1B visa is not the end of the paperwork an employer must complete to hire a foreign national worker. Now an employer must complete paperwork, including the Form I-9, in order to legally hire a foreign national worker. This is a complex process, and one of the best ways to get it done right is an electronic I-9 management tool. This can help guide you through the process and ensure it gets done consistently and correctly every time, no matter how many workers you employ.