Friday, October 12, 2018

Case of the Day: Li v. U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Servs., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 137558 (D.N.J. Aug. 14, 2018)


Plaintiff is the head of a Chinese TV station's US division who sought to begin the TV station's North American branch. The plaintiff came to the US on an L-1A visa (i.e. visa for foreign employees of a multinational firm), which was approved in May 2013 for eight months stay. Because the plaintiff needed more than eight months to do her work, she applied for an extension. The approval did not come until February 2015, and the extension only lasted until May 2015. Because this extension was not long enough, the TV station filed an I-485 application. The USCIS denied the applications, on the grounds that the plaintiff did not maintain continuous employment authorization from 2015 (because she did not have the L-1A visa.) Plaintiff sued USCIS. The USCIS moved to dismiss, claiming lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

The court denied the motion to dismiss. While the parties agreed that the Immigration and Naturalization Act divested the court's jurisdiction for an action based on the I-485 application decision, the court found the INA did not divest jurisdiction for an action based on the L-1A visa decision, as the visa is a non-immigration visa.


It is good to see the court asserting jurisdiction over this absurd case. USCIS always has been a ridiculous bureaucracy and the court has deferred to it too often. In this instance, USCIS made the maximalist argument that it "may" grant an extension of up to two years, which the judge slapped down as it "defies common sense as an argument in this situation."

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