Monday, August 22, 2016

Religious Worker's Challenge To Immigration Law Interpretation Dismissed On Jurisdictional Grounds

Singh v. Johnson, (SD IN, Aug. 17, 2016), is a suit in federal district court for declaratory relief and an injunction by an Indian citizen who is in the U.S. on an R-1 nonimmigrant religious worker visa working for a Sikh Gurdwara in Indiana. Plaintiff sought to adjust his status to become a lawful permanent resident.  USCIS denied his application for change of status because, it contended, his receipt of room and board, donations, and gifts from Sikh temples other than his employer amounted to unauthorized employment in the U.S. Plaintiff contends that this definition of unauthorized employment is inconsistent with law and violates his free exercise rights.  An Indiana federal district judge dismissed plaintiff's complaint for lack of jurisdiction, saying:
The immigration judge presiding over the Plaintiff’s removal proceeding has de novo review of the USCIS’s denial of the Plaintiff’s I-485 Application....  Thereafter, if the immigration judge’s decision is unfavorable to the Plaintiff, he may appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals.... And, if the Board of Immigration Appeals affirms an immigration judge’s unfavorable decision, the Plaintiff may appeal to the Seventh Circuit the results of his removal proceeding and any constitutional claims or questions of law.