Multiple tech companies have filed a lawsuit against U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, alleging they unlawfully charged them $350 million in H-1B visa fees.
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include ITServe Alliance, iTech US, SmartWorks and Saxon Global.
Defendant (“the Agency”) has unlawfully charged United States companies approximately $350 million dollars in visa fees (likely more) over the past six years,” according to a complaint filed on January 26, 2020, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. “Plaintiffs now seek a refund. For the reasons below, this Court must set aside visa denials based on the nonpayment of this unlawful fee, enjoin the Agency from continuing to charge this fee, and refund all payment of these fees for the past 6 years.”
The plaintiffs want to convince the court that USCIS is unlawfully charging “50/50” companies a $4,000 fee for H-1B visa holders who change status inside the United States. They believe that the fee should only be charged when an H-1B professional enters the United States.
The plaintiffs said that USCIS charged a $2,000 and then a $4,000 fee for H-1B professionals entering the United States at a port of entry and when companies apply for a change of status to H-1B status. “An application for a change of status is not an application for admission,” they argued.
“The Agency ignored the difference between these two distinct concepts and charged the Border Admission Fee to all H-1B applications for initial status or a change of employer filed by 50/50 companies regardless of whether they were seeking admission or a change of status,” the plaintiffs explained.
The plaintiffs request for the court to rule that charging a fee for H-1B change of status petitions is arbitrary and capricious and should be enjoined, set aside and declared unlawful.
They also ask the court to “order the Agency to pay restitution or refunds in the actual amount of unlawful fees collected for the past 6 years from today or back to January 14, 2014.”
While the fee has been in effect since 2010, “The federal civil statute of limitations limits us to the past 6 years,” said Jonathan Wasden.