SCOTUS Overturns Chevron Doctrine Opening the Door for Immigration Challenges to Visa Denials

united-states-supreme-court-6330563_1280The recent Supreme Court decisions handed down in Loper Bright v. Raimondo and Relentless, Inc. v. Dep’t of Commerce, have overturned a longstanding rule known as the “Chevron” doctrine, which eliminates the need for federal courts to defer to federal agency decisions and regulations moving forward. This move essentially strips power away from federal agency interpretations of the law and gives it back to the courts.

This is positive news in the world of immigration, considering that a federal agency’s interpretation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) will no longer automatically prevail when litigating cases in court and filing immigration challenges to visa denials.

This will benefit many immigrants and businesses who for many years have been blocked by federal agencies from obtaining employment-based visas and green cards based on ambiguous agency interpretations of their cases.

For instance, in removal cases, those seeking review of decisions previously made by immigration judges’ or the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) will now have a clean slate, since courts no longer have to rely on an agency’s standpoint and can now interpret unclear laws with a new set of eyes.

These rulings could also pave the way for new litigation to be filed to defend challenges to previous visa denials. Where interpretations of the law once made by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) were automatically upheld in court, they will now be challenged forcefully.

U.S. employers seeking a favorable interpretation of a statute granting H-1B or L visa classification to a noncitizen worker may also have greater opportunities to argue their cases in court and win on behalf of their clients.

The Bad News

On the other hand, striking down the Chevron doctrine may also lead to negative consequences for some immigration programs that are based on USCIS’ interpretation of the INA such as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), the Child Status Protection Act which governs when dependent children of visa holders age out of their lawful status, and other deportation relief programs like parole and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) which could easily come under attack by conservative administrations.

These decisions could also restrict the President’s ability to make improvements to immigration law through USCIS policy updates and regulations.

However, it leaves open an opportunity for Congress to come together and pass legislation that will provide clear authorization for programs like DACA and TPS under the law.

Furthermore, another area left on shaky ground is disputes involving Department of Labor (DOL) regulations governing employment-based visa programs. The DOL has long argued that it is entitled to deference under the Chevron doctrine in defending regulations revising minimum wage standards for foreign farmworkers hired through the H-2A temporary visa program, because the INA does not address how those wage standards should be calculated.

All-in-all however this is great news for immigration applicants challenging previous agency denials and provides a new opportunity to be successful in court.

For more information about these new rulings, please click here.

Contact Us. If you would like to schedule a consultation, please text 619-569-1768 or call 619-819-9204.

Helpful Links


Need more immigration updates? We have created a new facebook group to address the impact of the new executive order and other changing developments related to COVID-19. Follow us there.

For other COVID 19 related immigration updates please visit our Immigration and COVID-19 Resource Center here.