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US Supreme Court Decision On Overturning Chevron Precedent For Indian H-1B Visa Workers

In a recent ruling, the US Supreme Court reversed a forty-year-old precedent—established earlier in the Chevron case—that stated courts ought to accord federal agency decisions substantial deference. Reversing the earlier ruling affects the Indian community differently and has far-reaching effects on H1B visa holders.  

Overview of the Chevron Doctrine in Brief

The Supreme Court established the Chevron doctrine as a rule in 1984. It stated that provided the federal agencies’ interpretations were reasonable, federal courts should normally accept how the agencies interpreted and applied unclear laws.

The Chevron deference rule has given the federal agencies including USCIS, which is a great deal of discretion in interpreting and also applying their respective jurisdictions for at least 40 years. 

The Supreme Court’s Ruling

The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Chevron means that federal courts will no longer automatically defer to agency interpretations. Judges will instead have more power to examine and possibly overturn agency rulings and regulations. This change signifies a substantial realignment of authority between the executive and judicial branches of the government.

The immigration attorneys claim that it could increase the likelihood of success for US employers hiring immigrants (such as those on H1B visas) in their attempts to overturn unfavorable decisions made by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), such as extending visas because the position is not specialized. 

It may also imply that a new round of legal action could be brought against the work authorization granted to H-4 visa holders (spouses of H-1B visa holders) who are expected to obtain a green card.

Chief Justice John Roberts held in the late June Loper Bright Enterprises case that courts have to use their discretion to determine whether an agency has acted by statute. The Loper Bright ruling has both positive and negative effects. This order gives courts the ability to examine the merits and drawbacks of decisions made by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and USCIS, depending on how they interpret different factors. There is no automatic right for judges to give weight to agency interpretations. 

It is not quite what you would expect. In certain situations, it might improve the chances of a US employer’s case when hiring H-1B or L-1 employees for internal transfers. Federal courts will no longer respect a government agency’s interpretation of an Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provision in the absence of Chevron. Therefore, employers might be able to locate a court that is prepared to interpret a statute more favorably to grant a non-citizen worker classification under H-1B or L Visa. 

An appeal against the H-4 employment authorization documentation (EAD) rule is currently pending in the DC Circuit Court of Appeals by Save Jobs USA, an advocacy group made up of tech workers. They argue that the US Congress has not given the authority to create the H-4 EAD program, so the court should invalidate it in light of the Loper Bright Decision. As of right now, courts have upheld the DHS’s jurisdiction to grant work authorization to those who have been admitted legally. 

With an employment authorization document (EAD), nearly a lakh Indian spouses—mostly women—holding H-4 dependent visas can work or work for themselves. To address the issues faced by specific immigrant groups (like Indians), who had to wait decades to receive an employment-based green card, the Obama administration implemented the EAD rule in 2015. According to the EAD rule, the spouse with an H-4 visa may apply for employment authorization if the H1B visa holder is on track to receive a green card or has been granted an extension beyond the allotted six-year period. These families are in for anxious times ahead due to a new round of litigation challenges. 

Even if Chevron stops assisting, the INA expressly authorizes the USCIS to grant non-citizens work authorization and to impose time and other restrictions on non-immigrants by the statute, without the need for a costly interpretation of the law. 

Further Consequences and Prospects

In addition to immigration, other federal regulations like healthcare, labor laws, and environmental protection may be affected by the overturning of the Chevron doctrine. This move increases the pressure on Congress to create thorough, understandable legislation by reducing the discretion that agencies have in interpreting and applying the law. 

Stump emphasized the need for congressional action by saying, “We hope that the initiative is taken by the Congress to come together in a bipartisan fashion to legislate sensible solutions making our immigration system reflective of our modern day realities.” 

A new era in administrative law and policy implementation is drawing as lawmakers and the legal community weigh the implications of this decision. The cases would proceed through the legal system so, the full effect of this decision is likely to be felt in the coming years. To balance the power, Congress responds to this significant change.

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