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This article was prepared with the assistance of ABIL, the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers, of which Loan Huynh, Fredrikson Immigration Department Chair, is a member.

In Scripps College v. Jaddou, a U.S. District Court in Nebraska held that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) improperly denied the plaintiff’s I-140 immigration petition when it found that the beneficiary of the petition did not qualify for an employment-based first preference visa as an “outstanding professor or researcher.” The court ruled in favor of the plaintiff, Scripps College.

Scripps argued that USCIS’s denial of its I-140 petition must be reversed because USCIS made internally inconsistent findings, imposed novel evidentiary requirements, disregarded relevant factors, and was not supported by substantial evidence.

Citing various decisions, the court noted that agency action must be upheld on review unless it is “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with the law.” An agency decision is arbitrary and capricious if the agency acted outside “the bounds of reasoned decision-making, relied on factors which Congress has not intended it to consider, provided an explanation that runs counter to the evidence, or makes a decision that is so implausible that it could not be ascribed to a difference in view or the product of agency expertise,” the court noted.

Among other things, the court found that USCIS had made inconsistent findings based on the evidence and made findings that were controverted by the evidence. Further, the court said, the “unexplained internal inconsistencies” reflected that USCIS failed to articulate a satisfactory explanation for its action, including “a rational connection between the facts found and the choice made.” USCIS also “imposed novel evidentiary requirements in its denial” of Scripps’ I-140 petition, the court said. Concluding that USCIS’s decision “was arbitrary and capricious, an abuse of discretion, and contrary to the law,” the court granted Scripps’ motion for summary judgment and denied USCIS’s motion for summary judgment.

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