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Ajay Naidu Ravulapalli, et al v. Janet Napolitano

January 9, 2012

AJAY NAIDU RAVULAPALLI, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
JANET NAPOLITANO, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Colleen Kollar-kotelly United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiffs Ajay Naidu Ravulapalli and Lakshmi Alekhya Ravulapalli filed suit challenging the denial of their applications seeking to adjust their immigration status by Defendants Janet Napolitano, Alejandro Mayorkas, and David L. Roark in their official capacities as the Secretary of Homeland Security, Director of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS"), and Director of the USCIS Texas Service Center, respectively ("Defendants"). Presently before the Court are Defendants' [22] Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings or Alternatively Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Plaintiffs'

[23] Motion for Summary Judgment, Defendants' [29] Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment, and Defendants' [42] Motion for Leave to File Nunc Pro Tunc Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment. All four motions have been fully briefed.*fn1

Defendants initially sought dismissal of Plaintiffs' claim for lack of subject matter jurisdiction arguing that Defendants' decision to re-open Plaintiffs' application meant there was no final agency action for the Court to review, and Plaintiffs' claims were no longer ripe. See Defs.' Mot. for J. on the Pleadings, ECF No. [22], at 1-2. Defendants subsequently granted Plaintiffs' applications for adjustment of status, mooting Defendants' initial dispositive motion. In light of this development, Defendants filed their cross-motion, asserting lack of subject matter jurisdiction on the grounds of mootness and standing, rather than ripeness. Based on the pleadings, the Administrative Record, and the applicable authorities, the Court finds Plaintiffs' claims are moot. Furthermore, even if Plaintiffs' claims are not moot, Plaintiffs lack standing to pursue either theory of the case proffered in their motion papers. Therefore, Defendants' Motion for Leave to File Nunc Pro Tunc Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED. Defendants' Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART. Defendants' motion is GRANTED as to the issue of mootness and standing, and DENIED in all other respects. Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment is DENIED AS MOOT. Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings or Alternatively Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction is DENIED AS MOOT.

I. BACKGROUND

The Court detailed statutory and regulatory framework governing the case in its prior order, and the Court incorporates that discussion by reference herein. See Ravulapalli v. Napolitano, 773 F. Supp. 2d 41, 44-48 (D.D.C. 2011). The factual and procedural history relevant to the disposition of the motions currently before the Court is briefly set forth below.

A. Factual History

On January 22, 2007, the Department of Labor approved the Application for Permanent Employment Certification filed by ERP Analysts Inc. ("ERP") on behalf of Mr. Ravulapalli. Certified Administrative Record ("CAR") Pt. I at 13-26. Based on this certification, on August 16, 2007, ERP filed a Form I-140 Immigrant Worker Petition with the USCIS on behalf of Mr. Ravulapalli. Id. at 11. At the same time, Mr. Ravulapalli filed a Form I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, seeking to adjust his immigration status from non-immigrant worker to lawful permanent resident. CAR Pt. II at 4-15, 49-50. Mr. Ravulapalli's adjustment of status was contingent upon the approval of an underlying visa petition, in this case ERP's I-140 petition. See id. at 64. Mrs. Ravulapalli also filed a derivative I-485 spousal application. CAR Pt. III at 4.

While the I-140 petition and Plaintiffs' I-485 applications were pending, ERP moved to withdraw the visa petition, stating it had withdrawn its offer of permanent employment to Mr. Ravulapalli. CAR Pt. I at 2-3. The USCIS terminated the I-140 and Plaintiffs' I-485 applications on March 24, 2009. Id., CAR Pt. II at 64, 79. Mr. Ravulapalli filed a motion to reconsider, arguing that ERP should not have been allowed to revoke the I-140 petition since it had been pending for more than 180 days. CAR Pt. II at 66-77. Mr. Ravulapalli argued that under existing USCIS regulations, he should be able to "port" the I-140 petition to a new employer, and that the USCIS was required to review the petition for approval-in this context known as a Yates Review-and then adjudicate Mr. Ravulapalli's I-485 application. Id. The USCIS denied the motion to reconsider on June 2, 2009. Id. at 66, 83-94.

On June 16, 2011 pursuant to 8 C.F.R. § 103.5(a)(5), on its own motion, the USCIS re- opened the Ravulapalli's I-485 applications. Defs.' Mot. for J. on the Pleadings, Ex. 1, ECF No. [22-1], at 2-3. At the same time, the USCIS issued Mr. Ravulapalli a "Notice of Intent to Deny," requesting additional evidence that Mr. Ravulapalli had a new offer of employment in the same or similar occupational classification as his previous offer of employment from ERP. Id. at Ex.

2. In response, Mr. Ravulapalli submitted a letter from Lanco Global Systems Inc. indicating it intended to "continue to offer him a full-time permanent position as a Systems Analyst," and detailing Mr. Ravulapalli's job responsibilities. Defs.' Mot. to Extend Remaining Briefing Sched. Deadlines, Ex. A, ECF No. [24-1], at 7-9. Defendants contend that prior to this date, Mr. Ravulapalli never provided USCIS with any evidence that he had an offer of employment from another employer for a position in the same or similar classification as that offered by ERP and included on the I-140 petition. Defs.' Cross-Mot. for Summ. J., ECF No. [29], at 4, n.4. The USCIS approved Mr. Ravulapalli's I-485 application on July 11, 2011. Defs.' Ex. 2 at 2.*fn2 The USCIS then issued two Requests for Evidence to Mrs. Ravulapalli, requesting an updated medical examination and evidence Mrs. Ravulapalli had received all required vaccinations. Defs.' Ex. 3 at 3-5. The USCIS approved Mrs. Ravulapalli's I-485 application on August 9, 2011. Plaintiffs subsequently received their "green cards" and are now both lawful permanent residents of the United States.

B. Procedural History

Plaintiffs filed suit on March 17, 2010 asserting five different claims for relief. The Court granted in part and denied in part Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, leaving only two claims in this matter: Count Two, alleging Defendants acted arbitrarily and capriciously by departing from internal policies requiring them to consider the merits of the I-140 petition before denying their I-485 applications; and Count Three, alleging Defendants' refusal to follow their own policy guidance regarding the treatment of I-140 petitions amounted to a legislative rule change that requires USCIS to follow notice-and-comment rulemaking procedures under 5 U.S.C. § 553. See 3/29/11 Order, ECF No. [13].

The Court ordered the parties to file their dispositive motions by no later than June 24, 2011. 4/28/11 Order, ECF No. [20]. Defendants filed their Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings on June 22, 2011, and Plaintiffs filed their Motion for Summary Judgment on June 23, 2011. Nearly two and one half months later, Defendants filed their Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment on September 9, ...


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