H1B Visa Denial – Why Diligent Paperwork Is Now More Important Than Ever

It is not an uncommon fact that most H1B visas require extensive paperwork and takes at least a few weeks to get it all sorted. The H1B visa petitions are granted if it meets the “Specialty Occupation” requirement, that is, the occupation requires a minimum Bachelor’s degree in a specific field of study. A recent decision to deny Usha Sagarwala of H1B visa has put a lot of immigrants on H1B visa in a frenzy. The Indian national was denied H1B visa on the basis that her planned job of Quality Analyst did not meet the definition of a “Specialty Occupation”. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) denied the petition based on the lack of evidence of why the role is a Specialty Occupation in her paperwork.

Usha Sagarwala has been holding H1B in the US since 2012. She shifted her job position in August 2018 to a Quality Analyst. Her prospective employer, HSK Technologies based in New Jersey, had to file for H1B with all the relevant paperwork for the new job position. Initially, USCIS had sent a Request for Evidence(RFE), requiring the company to provide more information on the Quality Analyst (QA) position. As per USCIS, the job description suggested that the job position did not require any special skills to do the job and hence would deem her ineligible to work legally.

Despite responding to RFE with all the required information – a detailed list of responsibilities of the position, testimonials on why a high-skilled person is required to perform the job adequately, USCIS denied Sagarwala’s petition. Hence, bringing her stay in the U.S.A to a screeching halt.

Usha Sagarwala did the only thing she hoped would help resolve this issue – She appealed to the Washington D.C. court to help overthrow USCIS’s decision. However, the federal court judge decided to rule in favor of USCIS. The court found that “USCIS did not act arbitrarily or capriciously” in assessing Usha Sagarwala’s petition. The court also criticized HSK Technologies’s failure to provide evidence that QA analyst position requires the degree to be in specific specialty. HSK Technologies had “indicated that the minimum entry requirements for the offered position [were] a wide variety of disparate fields of study”, which was in direct contradiction with specific speciality degree requirement.

This is one of the latest H1B denials ever since President Donald Trump promised a crackdown on the visas. H1B visas have skyrocketed under this administration and USCIS has become a lot more stringent with assessing the different H1B applications.

One thing is clear after this story – companies need to spend more time and do their due diligence in ensuring the employee’s paperwork is in the right order and in accordance with H1B visa requirements. Failure to do so will not only result in the company losing out in employing the person but would also impact the applicant’s livelihood.


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