Categories
Visas - H-1b, L-1, E, O, TN

L-1 RFE’s are handed out inconsistently between Service Centers?

The Service’s annual 2016 report to the Ombudsman was recently release and contained concerning information for L-1 visa petitioners. Unfortunately, the RFE rates of L-1 visas appear to continue to have no rhyme or reason.

“L-1A RFE data shows inverse trending between the CSC and the VSC. For example, CSC’s L-1A rates surged to 55 percent in FY 2015, its highest level in 20 years, while in the same period, VSC’s rate dropped dramatically from a high of 44.6 percent in FY 2014, to 29 percent in FY 2015. The number of L-1B RFEs dropped in FY 2015 at both service centers, to 44 percent at the CSC and 33 percent at the VSC.” See Ombudsman Report p. 59.

The L-1 memo, L-1B Policy Guidance Memorandum, was supposed to help alleviate some of this uncertainty. “It does not appear that RFE rates in FY 2015 were affected by this guidance, as it did not become final until August 17, 2015.” See Ombudsman Report p. 59. A very small sample size granted, but this memo was supposed to be seminal in the L-1 category. I’ll be eagerly anticipating next year’s report. What we can take away is that it looks like you’ll have a slightly better chance of getting an L-1A through Vermont and that L-1B’s RFE’s have dropped but not as much as we were hoping for when the L-1B Policy Guidance Memo was released.

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Visas - H-1b, L-1, E, O, TN

Still an Uphill Battle for L-1B Petitioners

On January 13, U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson refused, Chain-Sys Corp.’s, a Michigan technology company, motion for summary judgment accusing U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officials of improperly denying an L-1B visa for a programmer from India, saying the agency had a reasonable foundation for its decision. Chain-Sys, which creates software applications, most notably for software giant Oracle Corp., had sought an L-1B visa for its employee, Anbarasan Murugan, a senior project manager and technical specialist at Chain-Sys who had worked for the company in India for eight years. Chain-Sys has been arguing two points. First, the agency was wrong to determine both that Murugan’s knowledge of the company’s proprietary software was not itself specialized knowledge; and second that Chain-Sys hadn’t shown that others employed in the industry couldn’t easily acquire Murugan’s knowledge.

As to the first argument, the judge noted that the fact that a person works with proprietary information or has a high level of technical skill is not enough to establish specialized knowledge under the USCIS’ interpretation of federal immigration law. As to the second argument, the judge said he couldn’t conclude that USCIS “was compelled to find that it would take years to impart Murugan’s knowledge alone on another individual already in the industry.” In general, it is safe to assume that your company’s propriety technology is not commonly held, is complex and is difficult to impart to others. However, this decision shows that when petitioning for an L-1B employee it is still best to demonstrate as many as the factors that show specialized knowledge as possible, even though the presence of one or more of these (or similar) factors is sufficient in some cases to establish that a beneficiary has specialized knowledge.

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Visas - H-1b, L-1, E, O, TN

Sen. Charles Grassley “troubled” by a new L-1B policy memo

The main reason Senator Grassley was troubled was because he believed that the new memo could result in hundreds of thousands of temporary foreign workers being admitted into the U.S. … wouldn’t that be terrible! Senator Grassley also believed that “A more liberal definition of ‘specialized knowledge’ that causes hundreds of thousands of additional L-1B workers to be admitted to the country will also accelerate the offshoring of jobs from the United States.” I am not sure which memo Senator Grassley read but the new L-1B has not “opened the flood gates” in the L-1B category. The memo still provides too much subjective review by Officers. The memo also does not provide bright line definitions of specialized knowledge as was originally hoped. However, if read carefully the memo provides guidance to petitioners as to what evidence best demonstrates specialized knowledge in USCIS’ eyes. Please see my article in ILW.com for a detailed review of the L-1B memo and a breakdown of the factors that tend to demonstrate specialized knowledge.

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Visas - H-1b, L-1, E, O, TN

Changes to the L-1b visa

HLG attorney Matt Minor was recently published on ILW.com. His article explored the differences between the L-1b visa pre and post the Aug 17, 2015 policy guidance.

Categories
Visas - H-1b, L-1, E, O, TN

L-1B Template for RFE’s

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has issued a draft template of requests for evidence (RFE) for L-1B petitions and is taking comments on the proposed form, a copy of which can be found here. USCIS will take comments until July 31. This is a follow up to its Memorandum on L-1B Adjudications Policy earlier this year. Even though the new L-1B Adjudications memo has not gone into effect, it appears that both USCIS and practitioners are looking ahead to when the rule does become final. The main benefit that can be gleaned from the RFE template is it that it contains an expansive list of evidence that can be provided to demonstrate that the requirements of an L-1B visa are met, including specialized knowledge.

Categories
US Immigration Policy Visas - H-1b, L-1, E, O, TN

Denied a Visa because of the color of your skin ?

It seems like an absurd headline doesn’t it ? We are in 2015 in what we claim is one of the most enlightened countries in the world and this current administration certainly talks a good game about equality, transparency and fair treatment for all. The reality is far different at the USCIS. In a not so surprising discovery, the National Foundation for American Policy, released a report that disclosed that if you happen to be an Indian national that your odds of being denied an L-1 visa are 5 times greater than if you were from another country. From 2012-2014, the USCIS denied an astounding 56% of L-1b petitions for persons from India. Is there an explanation other than blatant discrimination ? Sure there is but, not a credible one. USCIS examiners at the urging of powerful political interests have linked outsourcing (which is the devil incarnate) to the L-1b visa and USCIS examiners have been doing their “patriotic duty” by denying as many L-1b visas as they can. The legal standard and meritorious nature of the case be damned. The economic impact to US business is irrelevant. The argument that denials actually eliminate US jobs and force greater outsourcing, often forcing US citizens and residents to be transferred overseas falls on deaf ears. When you don’t want to hear that a certain class of person should be treated fairly, there is no reason to listen. Deny! Deny! Deny! is the rally cry in the halls of the Vermont and California Service Centers ! In 2006, the denial rate for L-1b petitions was 6%; in 2014, it was 35% without a single regulatory or statutory change. It’s time to call it what it is ! Disparate treatment of one petition over another simply by virtue of one’s national origin.