Attorneys for the 70 visa-seekers, most of whom are from India, say their clients were never given an opportunity to refute allegations of misrepresentation and fraud.
A recently-filed lawsuit claims that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services discriminated against international students and H-1B visa applicants by declaring them inadmissible without the chance to appeal or respond to allegations.
According to Forbes, the lawsuit was filed on behalf of nearly 70 plaintiffs, most all of whom are from India.
In the complaint, attorneys say that the U.S. government should have given visa petitioners an opportunity to rebut or refute evidence against their admissibility.
Many of the students were denied visas after immigration officers found that they had either committed, or attempted to commit, fraud.
However, the plaintiffs maintain that any fraud that was committed was undertaken by visa companies—companies that charged them for training, and which misrepresented the details of the visa application process.
In India, and in many other countries, obtaining a U.S. visa is often an arduous process. Students, for example, are required to show extensive documentation, both of their admission to an accredited American university and of their finances. Applicants are routinely rejected for simply suggesting that they might try to find jobs in the United States upon graduation.
The lawsuit argues that, under U.S. federal law, individuals engaged in the legal process should be able to respond to accusations against them.
“We are asking the court to order U.S.C.I.S. to give them notice and an opportunity to respond,” said attorney Jon Wasden of Wasden Law.
Wasden told Forbes that, because the students never communicated with the government about the merits of their applications, it is impossible for them to have actually violated the provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act that state that misrepresentation is grounds for a determination of inadmissibility.
Gavel resting on open book; image by verkeorg, via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, no changes.
“Before Defendant, United States Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”), may rely on evidence to label a foreign national as inadmissible for fraud or for having made a willful misrepresentation of a material fact, Defendant must provide such evidence to the aggrieved person and provide the person with the opportunity to rebut such evidence prior to finding them inadmissible,” the lawsuit claims.
“Plaintiffs are aggrieved foreign nationals who were neither notified, nor afforded the opportunity to rebut evidence DHS relied on to find them inadmissible,” the complaint adds. “DHS made a blanket finding because each Plaintiff sought employment or worked on Optional Practical Training (“OPT”) for one of four businesses while on a student visa.”
Attorneys say that four visa processing companies “are alleged to have asked students to pay the company for pre-employment training in exchange for an employment offer letter so that the student could apply for and eventually receive an OPT employment authorization document (“EAD”),” the lawsuit says. “Some, but not all, students who received offer letters or were employed by these companies knowingly and willfully made misrepresentations to DHS or engaged in fraud.”
“Plaintiffs did not [knowingly and willfully make misrepresentations to DHS], yet DHS sanctioned them anyway without providing evidence, notice or an opportunity to defend themselves,” the lawsuit says.
Attorneys for the students and visa-seekers suggest that they are not asking for the court to “wipe the slate clean.”
Instead, they simply say that they want the opportunity to present evidence in their own favor.
Some of the students, says Forbes, received H-1B approvals.
However, after the Department of Homeland Security uncovered evidence of far-ranging fraud, it “entered sanctions […] against all of the Plaintiffs but failed to give any Plaintiffs notice and an opportunity to be heard.”
The lawsuit alleges that the Department of Homeland Security violated the Administrative Procedure Act and asks the court for a variety of legal remedies.
H-1B Visa denied, 70 Indians take legal action against US government
Lawsuit: Immigration Agency Unfair To Students, H-1B Applicants
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT WESTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON AT SEATTLE
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