Iranian citizen Afshin Noroozi sued the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“CIS”) to overturn a decision denying him a visa based on his “extraordinary ability” at table tennis.  Noroozi placed 65th at the 2008 Olympics and is now ranked 284th in the world.  In a decision today, Judge Engelmayer granted summary judgment to the defendants:

Although [Naroozi’s] proficiency is impressive and commendable, and surely bespeaks years of dedication and practice, CIS was well within its discretion to conclude that Noroozi’s standing fell short of making him “one of that small percentage who have risen to the very top of the field of endeavor.” . . . . At argument, Noroozi acknowledged that a finding in his favor on this point would effectively oblige CIS to find that the 283 higher-ranked table tennis players in the world (to the extent they are not American citizens) would also satisfy the standards for an extraordinary ability visa if their accomplishments were “sustained.” Tr. 29.  And because table tennis is but one of hundreds, if not thousands, of fields of game or sport, Noroozi’s argument would appear to oblige CIS to grant extraordinary ability visas to at least the top 284 performers (to the extent they are not American citizens) in each of these many fields of endeavor. It would also appear to require CIS—absent other disqualifying characteristics—to grant visas to all non-citizens among the 64 table tennis players who out-performed Noroozi in the 2008 Olympics. The Court is unprepared to conclude that CIS abused its discretion, or otherwise erred, in requiring more elite standing before a petitioner can be deemed to be at “the very top of the field of endeavor.”