The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri recently held that USCIS’ decision to grant only one-year H-1B validity period was not arbitrary or capricious given the evidence in the record. In Valorem Consulting Group vs. USCIS, USCIS initially denied the petitioner’s request for a three-year validity period, but after the petitioner filed a lawsuit, approved the case for one year. The Court stated that it could set aside USCIS’ final decision only if it was “arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law.” The Court reviewed the records and decided that the beneficiary’s work in this case was project-dependent and the project-related information in the record supported USCIS’s decision. The Court noted that the petitioner was a “consulting company” that “offered a broad range of professional services to its clients.” The Court stated that “the beneficiary was performing tasks for the petitioner’s clients, and that these tasks varied in nature and duration, making it difficult for USCIS to confirm that the beneficiary was entitled to an H-1B visa and, if so, for how long.” Thus, USCIS’s decision to award only one-year validity period was not arbitrary or capricious.
In light of this court decision, providing proof of sufficient work available for the entire requested three-year period, either in-house or at a third party client (e.g., letters/affidavits by clients verifying long-term projects, MSAs, SOWs, purchase orders, invoices, payments to show significant business transactions) is critical for securing H-1B for more than one year. If proof for the entire requested period is unavailable, explain why the SOW is valid for less than the requested period (e.g., it is industry standard for a SOW to be issued in 6-month increment and corroborate it with history of business relationships with the client and past SOWs renewed in 6 month intervals).