Obtaining an L-1B Visa for Intracompany Transferees Getting Harder and Harder

USCIS raises bar on standards for L-1B applications.

Hoping for an L-1B intracompany transferee visa based on being an especially knowledgeable employee who works for a company outside the U.S. that has an affiliated entity within the U.S.? The good news is, there are no limits on how many people can get L-1 visas every year.

The rest of the news appears to be bad, however. While U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) once granted L-1B visas quite routinely to applicants wishing to come to the U.S. and work temporarily at the U.S. branch of the company, attorneys report that the trend has swung completely in the other direction. USCIS now commonly issues Requests for Evidence (RFEs) in response to applications, asking for more evidence; and then issues numerous denials, particularly in cases of employers with less than one year’s experience at the company.

What’s going on? It appears in part that the agency felt previously frustrated by a lack of standards for making decisions in L-1B cases, and so internally added a standard. It now requires that the would-be transferee’s understanding of the company (including its products, services, research, equipment, techniques, management, and so on) be not only “specialize,” per the law, but be "advanced and unique" as compared with that of other employees who are similarly situated. It will, of course, then require evidence that the applicant meets this standard.

Moreover, USCIS has become mistrustful of the employer itself as a source of information on the employee’s knowledge, and will look for confirmation from independent sources.

Be sure to get the assistance of an experienced immigration attorney if seeking to obtain an L-1B visa to the United States. The attorney will be able to strategize around what evidence to present and how to present it in layperson’s terms, so as to be clear to the USCIS examiner; and may have alternate visas to suggest.