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Raval v. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services

United States District Court, District of Columbia

March 20, 2019

ABHISHEK FAMANLAL RAVAL, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
UNITED STATES CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES, et al, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          RICHARD J.LEON United States District Judge

         In 2001, KPS Investment Company ("KPS"), a business owned by Pete Patel ("Patel"), sought authorization for Abhishek Ramanlal Raval ("Raval") to work for KPS in the United States. KPS filed a labor certification with the United States Department of Labor and an 1-140 visa petition with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service ("USCIS"), listing Raval as the beneficiary of both. The requested work authorization was initially granted. But in 2004, USCIS invalidated KPS's labor certification and revoked its 1-140 petition due in part to a finding that Raval had willfully misrepresented his work experience on KPS's applications. The decision left Raval ineligible for permanent residency in the United States, which he had been seeking at the time his work authorization was revoked.

         KPS, Patel, and Raval (collectively, "plaintiffs") filed this lawsuit against nine governmental entities and officials[1] to challenge USCIS's decision, alleging that it was arbitrary, capricious, and unlawful. The Government responded with a motion to dismiss plaintiffs' complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, and the motion is now pending before me. Upon consideration of the pleadings and the relevant law, the Government's motion must be GRANTED.

         BACKGROUND

         Raval is an alien seeking legal authorization to work and permanently reside in the United States through a three-step process administered by the Department of Labor and USCIS. The process begins when a United States employer

names an available alien worker for an open and advertised position and asks the Secretary of Labor to certify that (1) the employer attempted to recruit U.S. workers in good faith; (2) no U.S. worker is qualified, able, willing, or available for such employment; and (3) employing the alien worker will not adversely affect U.S. wages or working conditions.

IQ Sys., Inc. v. Mayorkas, 667 F.Supp.2d 105, 107 (D.D.C. 2009) (citing 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(5) and 20 C.F.R. § 656.10(a) & (c)). If the Department of Labor issues a "labor certification" in response, the employer "may file with USCIS a Form 1-140 Immigrant Worker Visa Petition" that attaches the certification. Id. (citing 8 U.S.C. § 1153(b)(3)(C) and 8 C.F.R. § 204.5(1)(3)(i)). "Upon approval of [the] 1-140 Petition," the alien receives authorization to work for the employer-applicant and may proceed to the final step in the process, a "petition for adjustment of his status to that of permanent resident, through Form 1-485." Id. at 107 & n.2 (citing 8 U.S.C. § 1255 and 8 C.F.R. § 204.5(n)).

         Raval's application process began on April 27, 2001, when KPS applied for a labor certification on his behalf. See Compl. ¶ 14 [Dkt. # 1]. The Department of Labor issued the requested certification, and on April 28, 2003, USCIS's predecessor agency approved KPS's associated 1-140 petition, authorizing Raval to work for KPS in the United States. See id.

         The work authorization lasted about eighteen months. On October 5, 2004, USCIS noticed its intent to revoke KPS's 1-140, explaining that the agency had obtained evidence that Raval falsified his work history on the labor certification. See Compl. ¶ 14. Raval timely responded to the notice, but unconvinced by his submission, USCIS revoked the I-140 petition on October 27, 2004, based in part on a finding of fraud against him. See Id. fflf 15, 22. USCIS then determined that the fraud finding rendered the labor certification invalid. See Id. ¶ 22. And because the 1-140 revocation left Raval without work authorization, his pending 1-485 application, through which Raval was seeking permanent residency, was denied a few days later. See Id. TJ 16.

         Raval continued pressing his case before USCIS but never persuaded the agency to reverse its fraud finding. See Id. fflf 17-29. On January 5, 2017, USCIS's Administrative Appeals Office upheld the decision to revoke KPS's 1-140 petition. See Id. ¶¶ 27-29. The Appeals Office affirmed both USCIS's finding that Raval had "willfully misrepresented his qualifying experience" on the labor certification and USCIS's two additional bases for revoking the 1-140-Raval did not "possess[] ... the experience required for the offered position," and KPS did not have the "ability to pay the proffered wage." Compl. Ex. 2 at 10[Dkt. # 1-4].

         On November 8, 2017, plaintiffs filed this lawsuit to challenge the administrative actions revoking KPS's 1-140 petition, invalidating the associated labor certification, and denying Raval's 1-485 application.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         "Under Rule 12(b)(1), 'the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing the factual predicates of jurisdiction by a preponderance of the evidence.'" Hunter v. FERC,569 F.Supp.2d 12, 15 (D.D.C. 2008) (quoting Lindsey v. United States,448 F.Supp.2d 37, 42 (D.D.C.2006)). "[T]he Court 'must accept as true all well-pleaded factual allegations and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiffs.'" Logan v. Dep't of Veterans Affairs,357 F.Supp.2d 149, 153 (D.D.C. 2004) (quoting Fitts v. Federal Nat'l Mortgage Ass'n,44 F.Supp.2d 317, 321 (D.D.C. 1999)). But a jurisdictional "inquiry focuses on the Court's power to hear the claim," so "the Court may give the plaintiffs factual allegations closer scrutiny and may consider materials ...


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