L-1B guidance expected soon

23 Mar 15

UNITED STATES

The White House has confirmed that reforms to the L-1B visa category, including a long-awaited policy guidance on specialized knowledge, are expected in the coming days.

“My administration is going to reform the L-1B visa category,” President Barack Obama said in a speech to global investors at the SelectUSA Investment Summit in Maryland on Monday.

“U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will increase clarity around the adjudication of the L-1B non-immigrant visa that allows international companies to temporarily deploy workers with specialized knowledge to the United States when launching or conducting operations here,” a White House fact sheet stated following Obama’s speech.

The announcements come on the heels of a report showing a steep rise in denials for L-1B visa petitions. L-1B visas are issued for employees of an international company coming to work in a U.S. branch as an intra-company transferee who possesses “specialized knowledge.” That definition has been ambiguous and inconsistently interpreted, and companies have asked for guidance for many years.

While the government has indicated since 2012 that it would clarify the boundaries of “specialized knowledge,” it was not until recently that USCIS director Leon Rodriguez indicated that L-1B guidance is a priority.

In November, as part of his executive actions on immigration, Obama said that USCIS should issue a policy memorandum that provides clear, consolidated guidance on the meaning of “specialized knowledge.” A policy memorandum would give guidance to USCIS officers who adjudicate L-1B visa petitions.

Obama spoke today at a meeting of SelectUSA, a federal effort to stimulate job-creating investment by connecting investors around the world with business and government leaders in the U.S. A policy guidance could help promote L-1 visas as an avenue for multinational companies to bring high-skilled workers to the U.S.

It is expected that stakeholders and members of the public will be able to submit comments on the draft guidance before it is finalized.

BAL Analysis: BAL will assist clients in reviewing and analyzing the proposed guidance to determine whether it eases administrative burdens or imposes new hurdles. BAL will follow up with details of the guidance as soon as it is released.

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