Big Immigration Win For Employers – California Judge Strikes Down H-1B Visa Restrictions

Howard K. KurmanPrincipal, Offit│Kurman

On December 1, 2020, a California federal judge struck down the Trump administration’s policies tightening eligibility and raising minimum salaries for foreign employees on high-skilled work visas, finding that the administration hadn’t justified its choice to skip key procedural steps.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White, a George W. Bush appointee, found that the unemployment crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic was not “good cause” for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Department of Labor to flout the proper regulatory procedure when issuing the two policies, which aimed to crack down on H-1B specialty occupation visas.
The Labor Department’s salary requirements took effect immediately upon publication in October, while DHS’ new criteria rules were set to take effect in December.

“The Court cannot countenance – reluctantly or otherwise – Defendants’ reliance on the COVID-19 pandemic to invoke the good cause exception,” Judge White said. “The pandemic’s impact on the economy is the only reason DHS proffered as good cause, and Defendants do not dispute that the failure to provide notice and comment was prejudicial.”

The case is Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America et al. v. United States Department of Homeland Security et al., case number 4:20-cv-07331, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

The complaint is attached.