Bultasa Buddhist Temple of Chicago, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants,
Kirstjen M. Nielsen, Secretary of Homeland Security, et al., Defendants-Appellees.
October 30, 2017
from the United States District Court for the Northern
District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 15 C 9378 - John
Z. Lee, Judge.
Wood, Chief Judge, and Bauer and Easterbrook, Circuit Judges.
October 2015, the Bultasa Buddhist Temple of Chicago, Jung
Eun Lee, and Soung Youl Cho (collectively,
"Appellants") filed this suit against the Secretary
of the Department of Homeland Security, the Attorney General,
and the Director of United States Citizenship and Immigration
Services (collectively, "Appellees"), seeking
review of various actions related to Lee's and Cho's
immigration status. The district court granted Appellees'
motion to dismiss the complaint for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction. We affirm.
November 2005, Cho was admitted to the United States as a
nonimmigrant student on an F-l visa, and Lee was admitted as
his spouse on an F-2 visa. On March 17, 2006, Bultasa
Buddhist Temple filed an 1-129 petition with USCIS, seeking
to obtain a nonimmigrant religious worker visa (R-l visa) for
Lee so that she could serve as the Temple's organist.
That petition was sent to USCIS's California Service
Center (CSC) and remained pending there for almost four
years, despite Appellants' submission of a premium
on October 19, 2009, a CSC representative inquired whether
the Temple was still interested in pursuing the petition.
That representative informed the Temple that USCIS intended
to approve the petition and retroactively amend Lee's
status, such that she would have had lawful status from June
1, 2006, to May 31, 2009. The CSC representative also
informed the Temple it would be allowed to apply for an
extension for the remaining period of eligibility, which
would run from June 1, 2009, to May 31, 2011. This
arrangement would have given Lee lawful status continuously
from June 1, 2006, to May 31, 2011.
CSC then approved the Temple's original 1-129 petition on
October 22, 2009. The approval notice, however, stated that
the R-l visa was valid only until May 31, 2009. The Temple
filed a petition to extend that visa on December 17, 2009,
under the impression that CSC would approve the extension and
apply it retroactively to a June 1, 2009, start date, per the
arrangement described above. The CSC approved the extension,
but only to start from May 11, 2010, and run until October
22, 2011. As a result, on the face of the visa and extension
approvals, there was a gap in Lee's lawful status from
June 1, 2009, to May 10, 2010.
proved problematic when the Temple filed an 1-360 petition on
Lee's behalf seeking classification as a special
immigrant religious worker in November 2010. The application
stated that Lee had worked for the Temple since October 22,
2009. The CSC denied the application because Lee had worked
for the Temple during a period when she did not have a valid
visa (i.e., from October 22, 2009, to May 10, 2010). The
Temple appealed the denial, but the Administrative Appeals
Office dismissed the appeal on August 13, 2012.
then sought the assistance of United States Representative
Michael Quigley and on June 12, 2013, the Congressional Unit
of the CSC agreed to amend Lee's status to indicate that
her R-l visa had been valid from June 1, 2009, to May 31,
2011, thereby eliminating the gap in her lawful status. On
September 24, 2013, the CSC approved the 1-360 petition.
December 9, 2013, Lee filed an 1-485 application with the CSC
to adjust her status to become a lawful permanent resident.
USCIS transferred the application from the CSC to the
Nebraska Service Center (NSC) in an effort to speed up the
processing time. The NSC denied Lee's application on May
15, 2015, explaining that she had a status violation from
October 23, 2011 (the day her R-l visa expired), to December
8, 2013 (the day before she filed the 1-485 petition).
on January 20, 2016, USCIS informed Appellants of its intent
to revoke the previous grant of the 1-360 petition because
Appellants had failed to establish that Lee had worked
continuously in a qualifying religious occupation for a full
two years immediately preceding the filing of the
application. In response, Appellants stated that Lee did not
have the requisite two years of work experience because the
CSC had unreasonably delayed processing the initial
application for over three and a half years. USCIS considered
that response to be an admission ...