On July 20th, American Immigration Lawyers Association(AILA) filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) seeking the release of records concerning agency policies and procedures for the H-1B visa program. AILA had attempted to obtain these documents under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request which had been denied in full by USCIS.
This lawsuit focuses on the government’s H-1B visa review and processing procedures. Since 2008, USCIS has implemented new, more stringent procedures for review and processing and has dramatically increased the frequency of unannounced worksite inspections – expected to reach 25,000 visits in 2010 alone – in connection with H-1B cases. At the same time, USCIS has kept under secret the rules and guidelines related to the review process. The lack of publicly available information on the government’s heightened scrutiny of H-1B applications makes it particularly difficult for businesses to anticipate and meet agency expectations during the application process.
The lawsuit seeks the release of policy and other agency memoranda regarding H-1B adjudication and enforcement. Considering the full denial of AILA’s earlier FOIA request, it may be expected that the government will fight this lawsuit to prevent this disclosure. We will continue providing updates and developments on this case.