Khazaei v. Blinken

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA AMIR HOSSEIN KHAZAEI, et al., Plaintiffs, v. Civil Action No. 23-1419 (JEB) ANTONY J. BLINKEN, Defendant. MEMORANDUM OPINION Plaintiffs are Iranian nationals who applied for non-immigrant visas to study or teach at various U.S. academic institutions this fall, as well as their spouses and minor children. They contend that the seven to twelve months each of them has waited for a final decision (as of the filing of the Complaint) violates the Administrative Procedure Act in two ways: first, it constitutes an “unreasonable delay,” and second, it evinces an “arbitrary” and “capricious” pattern of discrimination against Iranian student-visa applicants. Defendant Antony Blinken, the Secretary of State, now moves to dismiss. While the Court finds the Government’s threshold arguments regarding jurisdiction and justiciability largely without merit, it will nonetheless dismiss the four Plaintiffs who have since received visas and grant the Motion on the merits as to those remaining. I. Background A. Legal Background Foreign students who wish to pursue a “full course of study” in a U.S. academic institution may apply for an “F-1” non-immigrant visa. See 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(15)(F). 1 Similarly, “exchange visitors” who have been accepted into an approved program to teach or study may apply for a non-immigrant visa under the “J-1” classification. See id. § 1101(a)(15)(J). Spouses and minor children can accompany them by applying for a derivative “F-2” or “J-2” visa. See id. § 1101(a)(15)(F)(ii), (J). Typically, all of these applicants must appear for an in-person interview with a consular officer to evaluate their eligibility. See id. § 1202(h). Absent a visa sanction against the applicant’s country (which may exist under circumstances not relevant here), the officer must either “issue” or “refuse” the visa. See 22 C.F.R. § 41.121(a). The visa shall be refused “if (1) it appears to the consular officer from statements in the application, or in the papers submitted therewith, that [the non-citizen] is ineligible to receive a visa . . . , (2) the application fails to comply with the [Immigration and Nationality Act], or the regulations issued thereunder, or (3) the consular officer knows or has reason to believe that such alien is ineligible to receive a visa.” 8 U.S.C. § 1201(g). In cases where the officer requires additional information to determine the applicant’s eligibility, however, he may refuse the visa pending further “administrative processing.” U.S. Dep’t of State, Administrative Processing Information (last visited Sept. 5, 2023), []. The status of each application is published on the State Department’s website. See U.S. Dep’t of State, Visa Status Check (last visited Sept. 5, 2023), []. In the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, Congress enacted the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002. The Act, among other things, imposed new restrictions on the issuance of visas and more stringent procedures for monitoring the entry and exit of foreign students and exchange visitors. See, e.g., 8 U.S.C. §§ 1731–32, 1735, 1761–62. 2 It provides, as relevant …

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