United States Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS) designates a special visa classification, the L-1, for “intracompany transferees,” i.e. individuals who work for a company outside the U.S. that is related to a U.S. company, so that those individuals can work for the related company in the United States.
At first glance this category may seem straightforward with the barrier to entry being the employer proving they have a qualifying company and that the foreign national will be performing a managerial, executive (L-1A), or specialized knowledge (L-1B) position for the company in the U.S. However in recent years, petitions for L-1B visas have incurred high denial rates due to increasingly strict eligibility criteria applied by the USCIS—and the number continues to rise.
According to USCIS data obtained by the National Foundation for American Policy, the L-1B individual petition denial rate was 6% in FY 2006. Now the latest stats reveal the number reached a historic 35% denial rate in FY 2014.
The rate of denials varies by country. For example: L-1B petitions for Indian foreign nationals was 56% for FY 2012-2014. In contrast, only 4% of L-1B petitions from Canadian nationals were denied in that same time period, and only 16% for British nationals.
Along with the increase in L-1B petition denials, the number of requests for evidence (RFE) is also high, reaching 45% of L-1B petitions filed during FY 2014.
What does this mean for HR?
It’s increasingly apparent that USCIS is using challenging and strict criteria when deciding whether or not to approve an L-1B petition. As a result, it’s extremely important that when filing an L-1B petition on behalf of a foreign national that you present the best case possible to the USCIS.
Here are three tips for avoiding a visa denial:
- Consult a qualified immigration attorney to help you learn whether your foreign national is eligible to apply for the visa category.
- Provide detailed supporting documents to USCIS so you can prove your employee’s eligibility and do your best to avoid an RFE.
- Take RFE notices seriously and work hard to obtain each piece of documentation the immigration agency requests.
Questions? Feel free to message one of our immigration specialists on our contact page.