Court Orders H-1B Approval for Market Research Analyst Position

March 15th, 2012 by Brian D. Zuccaro

In the recent case of Residential Finance Corporation v. USCIS, a U.S. federal court determined that USCIS improperly denied an H-1B visa to an individual seeking employment in a market research analyst position. See Residential Finance Corporation v. USCIS (S. Dist. Ohio, March 12, 2012).

USCIS had denied the petition because the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) stated that a bachelor’s degree in a specific field was not required for this occupation. As result, the position offered did not qualify as an H-1B “specialty occupation.” USCIS frequently denies H-1B petitions whenever the OOH indicates that a bachelor’s degree in a specific field is not the normal requirement for entry into the profession. As such, H-1B petitions for market research analyst positions are routinely questioned and denied.

Following the denial of its H-1B petition, the prospective employer in this case sued USCIS in federal court. In ruling against USCIS, the federal court harshly rebuked the agency, stating that its errors in adjudicating the petition constituted “a litany of incompetence that presents fundamental misreading of the record, relevant sources, and the point of the entire petition.” The court added that if USCIS was “going to deny a petition that will send [the applicant] to another country after twenty-one years of living in the United States, it should afford [him] a bare minimum level of professionalism, diligence, and reasoning.”

Noting USCIS’ interpretation as “too narrow,” the court found that a “market and survey researcher [was] a distinct occupation with a specialized course of study that includes multiple specialized fields.” The court concluded that “there is no apparent requirement that the specialized study needed be in a single academic discipline,” and ordered USCIS to approve the H-1B petition.

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