Sage It, Inc. v. Cissna

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA SAGE IT, INC., et al., Plaintiffs, v. Case No. 1:17-cv-00590 (TNM) L. FRANCIS CISSNA, Defendant. MEMORANDUM OPINION Sandeep Sitaram is a citizen of India and employee of Sage IT, Inc. (collectively, the “Plaintiffs”), a software development and information technology services company. The Plaintiffs seek judicial review of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service’s (“USCIS”) decision to deny Sage IT’s petition to extend Mr. Sitaram’s H-1B status as a nonimmigrant worker in a specialty occupation. The USCIS found that Mr. Sitaram had exhausted his maximum of six years of H-1B eligibility and that his stay could not be extended through a statutory three-year extension. The USCIS reasoned that Mr. Sitaram was ineligible for the extension because his approved application for preference status (an “I-140”), one of two requirements for the extension, had been revoked when his previous employer withdrew their petition. In moving for summary judgment, the Plaintiffs assert that the agency’s decision was arbitrary and capricious because the USCIS later promulgated a regulation that no longer required an I-140 be automatically revoked upon an employer’s notice of withdrawal. Defendant L. Francis Cissna, Director of the USCIS,1 filed a cross-motion for summary judgment. Upon consideration of the pleadings, relevant law, related legal memoranda in opposition and in 1 Director Cissna is automatically substituted as the Defendant. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 25(d). support, and the entire record, I find that at the time the USCIS adjudicated Mr. Sitaram’s petition, the applicable regulation was unambiguous and that the USCIS’s denial was not arbitrary and capricious. Accordingly, the Plaintiffs’ motion will be denied and the Defendant’s cross-motion for summary judgment will be granted. I. A. H-1B visas permit qualified workers in specialty occupations to work in the United States. See 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(15)(H)(i)(B). Prior to 2000, an alien with a H-1B visa could not stay in the United States for longer than six years, even if his application for permanent status was pending. See 8 U.S.C. § 1184(g)(4) (1994). In 2000, Congress created two mechanisms to allow H-1B visa holders to extend their nonimmigrant status beyond the limit. See Am. Competitiveness in the Twenty-First C. Act (“AC21”), Pub. L. No. 106-313, §§ 104(c), 106(a) (codified at 8 U.S.C. § 1184 note). The first mechanism introduced by AC21—Section 104(c)—provides for a three-year extension if the alien (1) is the beneficiary of a petition for preference status and (2) would be eligible for this status but for per country limitations. Id. § 104(c); Memorandum from Donald Neufeld, Acting Assoc. Director, to USCIS Field Leadership (“Neufeld Memo”) at 6 (May 30, 2008), ECF No. 14-1. Preference status applications are made through I-140 petitions. See CAR-II at 230. The second mechanism—Section 106—provides for recurring one-year extensions for aliens whose labor certification or I-140 petition were filed more than 365 days prior. 21st C. Dep’t. of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act (“DOJ-21”), Pub. L. No. 107-273, § 11030A 2 (2002) (codified at 8 U.S.C. § 1184 note).2 One-year extensions ...

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