Youssefi v. Renaud

CourtUnited States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Massachusetts
Citation794 F.Supp.2d 585
Docket NumberCivil Action No. 10–cv–00428–AW.
PartiesNarges YOUSSEFI, et al., Plaintiffs,v.Daniel M. RENAUD, et al., Defendants.
Decision Date11 March 2011

794 F.Supp.2d 585

Narges YOUSSEFI, et al., Plaintiffs,
Daniel M. RENAUD, et al., Defendants.

Civil Action No. 10–cv–00428–AW.

United States District Court,D. Maryland,Southern Division.

March 11, 2011.

[794 F.Supp.2d 587]

Laurence F. Johnson, Johnson Immigration Law PC, Silver Spring, MD, for Plaintiffs.Alex S. Gordon, Office of the United States Attorney, Baltimore, MD, for Defendants.
Memorandum Opinion

This matter comes before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim, or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. See Doc. No. 6. For the reasons stated below, the Court holds that its jurisdiction is limited to deciding whether the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) erred in deeming the Plaintiff ineligible for a change in nonimmigrant status. The Court cannot issue mandamus forcing the USCIS to exercise its discretion to grant her a change in nonimmigrant status. However, the Court does find that the agency wrongly concluded that the applicable statutory and regulatory framework made her ineligible to be considered for a change in status. Accordingly, the Court will remand the case to USCIS to exercise its discretion in deciding whether to grant Ms. Youssefi's application for a change in status. Thus, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss will be GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.


The Plaintiff, Narges Youssefi, is a native and citizen of Iran who entered the United States on June 28, 2007, with her husband Mahdi Ataee–Ghomi, and son, Pouria Ataee–Ghomi Mahdi, as B–2 nonimmigrant visitors with permission to remain until December 27, 2007. They were granted an extension to remain in the United States as B–2 nonimmigrant visitors until June 27, 2008. Subsequently, Ms. Youssefi was contacted by her employer in Iran, who requested that she remain in the United States and enroll in school to improve her English-language skills.

Thereafter, Ms. Youssefi applied to Kaplan Test Prep to take English classes. She then acquired a Form I–20, a Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, which is required to obtain student status. With advice from the International Student Advisor at Kaplan, Ms. Youssefi selected a start date of November 3, 2008 for the classes, and entered it on the Form I–20. She then filed a Form I–539 application to change her nonimmigrant status from B–2 visitor to F–1 student on June 25, 2008. Her husband and son applied for F–2 status so they could remain with her, but not attend school, in the United States.

On September 8, 2008, the USCIS denied Ms. Youssefi's Form I–539 application, saying that she was ineligible for a change in nonimmigrant status because “[she had not maintained her] current nonimmigrant

[794 F.Supp.2d 588]

status up to thirty days prior to the start of classes in order to change status.” Record of Proceedings (“ROP”) at 000038. On October 9, 2008, Ms. Youssefi filed a motion to reopen and reconsider the denial of the Form I–539 application. On April 28, 2009, USCIS denied the motion to reopen and reconsider, for the same reasons it set forth in its initial decision. On June 1, 2009, Ms. Youssefi filed a second motion to reopen and reconsider the denial of her application. On August 26, 2009, USCIS denied her second motion for the same reasons as articulated in its prior decisions.

On February 23, 2010, the Plaintiff filed a Complaint in this Court, seeking “declaratory, injunctive, mandamus, and appropriate relief” for USCIS's denial of the Form I–539 application. The Defendants moved to dismiss the Complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, for failure to state a claim, or, in the alternative, for summary judgment.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEWA. Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction

Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, meaning that they do not have the authority to issue determinations as to all categories of cases without constitutional or congressional approval. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377, 114 S.Ct. 1673, 128 L.Ed.2d 391 (1994). The party asserting that the court has jurisdiction carries the burden of establishing subject matter jurisdiction. Lovern v. Edwards, 190 F.3d 648, 654 (4th Cir.1999). When evaluating a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, the court may “consider evidence outside the pleadings without converting the proceeding to one for summary judgment.” Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac R.R. Co. v. United States, 945 F.2d 765, 768 (4th Cir.1991).

B. Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim

The purpose of a motion under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is “to test the sufficiency of [the] complaint.” Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 243 (4th Cir.1999). Except in certain specified cases, the complaint need only satisfy the simplified pleading standard of Rule 8(a), which requires a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2).

In its determination, the Court must “accept the well-pleaded allegations of the complaint as true.” Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 268, 114 S.Ct. 807, 127 L.Ed.2d 114 (1994). The Court must also “construe factual allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Harrison v. Westinghouse Savannah River Co., 176 F.3d 776, 783 (4th Cir.1999). However, the Court should not accept “legal conclusion[s] couched as ... factual allegation[s].” Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286, 106 S.Ct. 2932, 92 L.Ed.2d 209 (1986).

C. Motion for Summary Judgment

Summary judgment is only appropriate “if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323–25, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). The Court must “draw all justifiable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party, including questions of credibility and of the weight to be accorded to particular evidence.”

[794 F.Supp.2d 589]

Masson v. New Yorker Magazine, Inc., 501 U.S. 496, 520, 111 S.Ct. 2419, 115 L.Ed.2d 447 (1991).

To defeat a motion for summary judgment, the nonmoving party must present affidavits or other similar evidence to show that a genuine issue of material fact exists. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986). Although the court should believe the evidence of the nonmoving party and draw all justifiable inferences in his or her favor, a party cannot create a genuine dispute of material fact “through mere speculation or the building of one inference upon another.” See Beale v. Hardy, 769 F.2d 213, 214 (4th Cir.1985).

D. Standards Governing Judicial Review of Statutory Interpretation by Agencies

As a general matter, there is a “strong presumption that Congress intends judicial review of administrative action.” Bowen v. Mich. Acad. of Family Physicians, 476 U.S. 667, 670, 106 S.Ct. 2133, 90 L.Ed.2d 623 (1986). This presumption is rebutted when a statute specifically precludes judicial review. See Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. § 701(a).

When a court is tasked with reviewing an agency's construction of the statute which it administers, it must, in appropriate situations, accord deference to the agency's reasonable interpretations. See Chevron, USA, Inc. v. Natural Res. Def. Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837, 842, 104 S.Ct. 2778, 81 L.Ed.2d 694 (1984). However, the applicable level of deference depends upon the procedure utilized by the agency to arrive at its interpretation. See Christensen v. Harris Cnty., 529 U.S. 576, 587, 120 S.Ct. 1655, 146 L.Ed.2d 621 (2000); United States v. Mead Corp., 533 U.S. 218, 227–30, 121 S.Ct. 2164, 150 L.Ed.2d 292 (2001). Chevron deference applies only when an agency's interpretation is the product of a formal agency process, such as notice-and-comment rulemaking. Mead Corp., 533 U.S. at 229, 121 S.Ct. 2164. In those instances, Congress has given the agency the authority to “speak with the force of law.” Id. Agency interpretations that are conducted within less formal contexts are entitled to a lower level of deference under the Skidmore decision, “but only to the extent that [they] have the power to persuade.” See Skidmore v. Swift & Co., 323 U.S. 134, 140, 65 S.Ct. 161, 89 L.Ed. 124 (1944).

In order to determine whether an interpretation arrived at in a less formal manner has the power to persuade, courts look to many factors, including the level of technicality involved, whether the subject matter falls within an area of agency expertise, and whether an agency's decision was well-reasoned. See, e.g., Aluminum Co. v. Cent. Lincoln Peoples' Util. Dist., 467 U.S. 380, 390, 104 S.Ct. 2472, 81 L.Ed.2d 301 (1984); Inv. Co. Inst. v. Camp, 401 U.S. 617, 626–27, 91 S.Ct. 1091, 28 L.Ed.2d 367 (1971).

III. ANALYSISA. Subject Matter Jurisdiction

It is well-settled that “the court must first determine the question of jurisdiction before it can consider the merits of a claim.” Owens–Illinois, Inc. v. Meade, 186 F.3d 435, 442 n. 4 (4th Cir.1999). Plaintiff alleges the following bases for subject matter jurisdiction: federal question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331; the Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201; the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 553, et seq. ; and the Mandamus Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1361.

Ordinarily, these statutes would suffice to confer jurisdiction for the Court to review

[794 F.Supp.2d 590]

agency determinations. However, the Immigration Nationality Act (“INA”) specifically divests courts of the jurisdiction to review the discretionary determinations of the USCIS. Under the INA, the decision whether or not to grant a petition for adjustment of...

To continue reading

Request your trial
2 cases
  • Ambulance Ass'n of Pa. v. Highmark Inc.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. Western District of Pennsylvania
    • June 7, 2011
  • Xinyi Jiang v. U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Servs.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Western District of Washington)
    • February 26, 2021
    ...nonimmigrant status, as § 1258 "grants the [Agency] the discretion to adjudicate a change of nonimmigrant status." Youssefi v. Renaud, 794 F. Supp. 2d 585, 590 (D. Md. 2011). Indeed, it would be odd to conclude that the Court has jurisdiction to review discretionary denials of a change of s......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT