H-1B Lottery Documents Released in FOIA Suit Are Available for Review

On behalf of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the American Immigration Council, and Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym, Ltd., filed a FOIA suit last year to compel the release of records concerning USCIS’s operating procedures and policies on the administration of the H-1B “lottery.” When USCIS initially responded to AILA’s FOIA request, the agency withheld nearly all of the 521 records identified as responsive. After the lawsuit was filed, USCIS agreed to “reprocess” the initial 521-page production (“Reprocessed Production”) and to conduct a new search which yielded nearly 3,600 records (“Supplemental Production”).

The Reprocessed Production is now available with an index, which highlights in bold, in the Key Information Included column, records that may be of particular interest. For ease of reference, the much longer Supplemental Production is also available with a highlights index, as well as a regular index of all of the records.

The Supplemental Production primarily covers Fiscal Years 2009 through 2012, while the Reprocessed Production primarily covers Fiscal Years 2014 and 2015. The productions provide insight into USCIS’ efforts to predict and calculate how many petitions need to be accepted to utilize the annual “regular” cap and “master’s exemption” allocations and sheds light on the functions performed by the private contractor retained by USCIS to assist with this work. Readers will find petition acceptability review check lists, top reasons for petition denials, and discussions and plans for dealing with the increased workload resulting from the April filings, among other records.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 17061919.