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Seventh Circuit Rules in Favor of Daniel Rubman in CIS Request Case

passport-881305_640Retired immigration attorney and former adjunct law professor at Northwestern University Daniel Rubman put forward a request in May of 2012 to Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS), asking for copies of all documents held by CIS about H1-B statistics. He requested 4 years’ worth of documents specifying the number of H1-B visa applications for cap-subject initial employment; number of approved applications; number of denied applications and also the number of withdrawn applications. He wanted to know whether CIS was complying with the mandated number of applications and not exceeding it by granting more than the 65,000 allowed per fiscal year.

CIS initially provided Rubman 3 months later with 4 pages of statistics compiled into a table that didn’t provide a clear picture of what Rubman was asking for, but saying “we have completed our search for records that are responsive to your request. The record consists of 4 pages of material that we are determined to release in full”. Rubman argued for several revised versions of the table, but CIS was ultimately unhelpful and he sued on the grounds that an “inadequate search” for the H1-B visa records had been performed by CIS officials. The court ruled against him, but later in 2015 the Seventh Circuit reversed that judgment, saying “an adequate search is one that was both performed in good faith and reasonably designed to uncover the requested records. CIS failed to conduct an adequate search as required by law when it unilaterally narrowed Rubman’s request for ‘all documents’ to a single, newly generated statistical table”.

H1-B visas are temporary, non-immigrant visas granted to those with specialized skills in certain occupations like technology, the arts, and science among others. They generally require a Bachelor’s degree in a field of study related to the occupation the visa is for, and will be granted for 3 years with the option to extend it to 6 (after this time, visa holders must return home or apply for a different visa; there is no option for citizenship under H1-B).

Petitions for HB-1 visas are submitted by US employers on behalf of the foreign worker, and they must demonstrate not only that their new employees will enjoy the same benefits and working conditions as their American counterparts, but they also must prove that there is no American citizen willing or available to do the job proposed. The H1-B cap is set at 65,000, but an additional 20,000 visas are also available to workers with post-graduate degrees from American universities.

If you are an H1-B applicant or would like more information on how to go about finding work sponsorship in the United States as a temporary non-immigrant, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Daniela Lyttle at Lyttle Law Firm, either through the website or by calling 215-512-5225.