Big Immigration Win for Employers: California Judge Strikes Down H-1B Visa Restrictions

By Mohammad Ali Syed, Offit Kurman, Attorneys at Law

On 01 December 2020, a California federal judge struck down the Trump administration’s policies tightening eligibility and raising minimum salaries for foreign employees on high-skilled work visas, finding that the administration had not justified its choice to skip key procedural steps.

US District Judge Jeffrey White, a George W. Bush appointee, found that the unemployment crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic was not “good cause” for the US Department of Homeland Security and US Department of Labour to flout the proper regulatory procedure when issuing the two policies, which aimed to crack down on H-1B specialty occupation visas.

The Labour Department’s salary requirements took effect immediately upon publication in October, while DHS’ new criteria rules were set to take effect in December.

“The Court cannot countenance – reluctantly or otherwise – Defendants’ reliance on the COVID-19 pandemic to invoke the good cause exception”, Judge White said. “The pandemic’s impact on the economy is the only reason DHS proffered as good cause, and Defendants do not dispute that the failure to provide notice and comment was prejudicial.”

The case is Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America et al. v United States Department of Homeland Security et al., case number 4:20-cv07331, in the US District Court for the Northern District of California.

Mohammad Ali Syed

Mohammad Ali Syed

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Offit Kurman, Attorneys at Law
Advisory, Corporate Finance, Fiduciary and Estate Planning, Law Firm Services
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Offit Kurman is a full-service law firm that serves dynamic businesses, individuals and families. With 16 offices and nearly 250 lawyers, Offit Kurman provides innovative and entrepreneurial counsel that focuses on clients’ business objectives across more than 30 areas of practice.

Mohammad Ali Syed (Mo)is a Principal with Offit Kurman in the Washington, DC, metro area, where he is head of the firm’s Immigration Practice. He has broad experience in business, employment, and investment-based visas and immigration. Mo is former co-chair for the Immigration and Nationality Committee of the ABA International Law Section.

Published: Employment Law Newsletter, No.10, Spring 2021 l Photo: Nicolas -

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