On October 11, 2018, a lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, titled ITServe Alliance Inc. v. United States Citizenship and Immigration Service, seeking to stop USCIS’s practice of placing seemingly arbitrary durations on H-1B visas, which are usually issued in three-year increments. USCIS claimed in a February 2018 policy memorandum that it has authority to limit how long an H-1B petition is valid, as it has discretion to limit the validity period to the length of time that the employer can demonstrate non-speculative work is available for the employee. The result of this policy has been H-1B petitions approved with startlingly short durations, in some cases for periods so short that they expired before the employer received the H-1B approval notice.
Practically speaking, USCIS’s position makes it incredibly difficult for employers to properly manage their work force. An employer may need to file an extension petition immediately upon receipt of the original approval, which is unduly burdensome on the petitioning employer, artificially driving up the cost of the foreign labor and doing real damage to U.S. businesses.