United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
PHANI K. GUTHULA Plaintiff,
JEH JOHNSON, Secretary of U.S. Department of Homeland Security, et al., Defendants.
Darnell Jones, II J.
NOW, this 6th day of September, 2017,
upon consideration of the parties' cross-motions for
summary judgment (ECF Nos. 16 and 17), and Plaintiff's
Response (ECF No. 18), it is hereby ORDERED
that said motions are DENIED as moot.
further ORDERED that this case is
DISMISSED without prejudice for lack of
subject-matter jurisdiction for the reasons set forth herein.
The Clerk of Court is directed to CLOSE this
case for statistical and all purposes.
Plaintiff does not satisfy the “case or
controversy” requirement under Article III, section 2,
of the U.S. Constitution, this Court cannot adjudicate the
merits of this case and must dismiss it for lack of
Relevant Factual and Procedural Background
following facts are not disputed by the parties. Phani
Guthula, an Indian national, holds an H-1B visa, which
entitles him to reside and work in the United States for six
years so long as he is fully employed by a sponsoring
employer. Guthula first obtained H-1B status on October 1,
2013, at the request of his former employer. That H-1B visa
was valid until September 25, 2016.
his H-1B status expired, Guthula experienced a work-related
accident and decided to return to school. On February 18,
2015, he applied for a change of status from H-1B to F-1, a
visa for non-immigrant, full-time students at accredited,
academic institutions. He submitted that application on the
proper Form I-539. Six months later, while his Form I-539 was
still pending, Guthula accepted a job offer and his new
employer applied on his behalf to extend, or revert to, his
H-1B status. That application is known as the Form I-129. The
new employer filed the Form I-129 with expedited processing
adjudicating Guthula's Form I-539 for a change to F-1
(student) status, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration
Services (USCIS) approved his new employer's Form I-129
on October 7, 2015, extending his H-1B until September 9,
2018. On March 5, 2016, more than a year after
submitting his Form I-539, USCIS denied that application
because he was no longer a student at that time.
is dissatisfied with the USCIS's decision to deny his
Form I-539, a denial that deprived him of F-1 status while he
was a student for about seven months from March 2, 2015, to
October 7, 2015. He claims that, as a result of that
decision, the time he can expect to remain in this country
has been shortened by that seven-month period; had he been
granted F-1 status for those seven months, then that time
period would not count against the time he could stay on his
redress this alleged injury, Guthula brings this action for a
declaratory judgment reversing the USCIS's decision and
an order directing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
to state that he was on F-1 status during the seventh-month
period he was unemployed and attending an accredited
institution. Guthula had also sought an order directing DHS
to state that he had not accrued unlawful status during that
seven-month period, but this concern is no longer an issue
because USCIS has agreed that he maintained lawful presence
during that time.
this action raises a purely legal question pertaining to an
administrative agency's decision, the parties
appropriately filed cross-motions for summary judgment
without engaging in any discovery other than the production
of the administrative record. See Lun Kwai Tsui v.
Attorney Gen. of U.S., 445 F.Supp. 832, 835 (D.D.C.
1978) (citing Richards v. Immigration &
Naturalization Serv., 554 F.2d 1173, 1177 (D.C. Cir.
1977), and Doraiswamy v. Secretary of Labor, 555
F.2d 832 (D.C. Cir. 1976)).
This Court Lacks Subject-matter Jurisdiction to Adjudicate
threshold matter, a federal court must always satisfy itself
of its own subject-matter jurisdiction. Storino v.
Borough of Point Pleasant Beach, 322 F.3d 293, 296 (3d
Cir. 2003) (“the first and fundamental question is that
of jurisdiction . . . . This question the court is bound to
ask and answer for itself, even when not otherwise
suggested”) (citing Soc'y Hill Towers
Owners' Ass'n v. ...