According to reports, the number of L-1 rejections has been increasing in recent years, while requests for evidence are rising. One executive of a major U.S. company said their refusal rate was 80 to 90 percent for L visas at consular posts in India. Forbes notes that nearly all major U.S. companies have offices in India.
Still, the news isn’t all bad: About 30,000 L-1 nonimmigrant worker petitions were approved in fiscal year (FY) 2019. To help you consider whether filing an L-1 visa petition may be right for your business, below are highlights of L-1 requirements and a summary of statistics from a new report from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
There are two types of L-1 visas, used for nonimmigrant intracompany transferees: L-1A, for those in managerial or executive positions, and L-1B, for those in positions utilizing specialized knowledge. USCIS explains that the L-1 nonimmigrant classification enables a U.S. employer to transfer an executive or manager (L-1A) or professional employee with specialized knowledge relating to the organization’s interests (L-1B) from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States. This classification also enables a foreign company that does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send an executive or manager to the United States with the purpose of establishing such an office, or a specialized employee to help establish it. The employer must file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, with fee, on behalf of the employee.
To qualify for L-1 classification in these categories, the employer must:
- Have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company (parent company, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate, collectively referred to as qualifying organizations); and
- Currently be, or will be, doing business as an employer in the United States and in at least one other country directly or through a qualifying organization for the duration of the beneficiary’s stay in the United States as an L-1. While the business must be viable, there is no requirement that it be engaged in international trade.
The new USCIS report gives updates on L-1 statistics for FY 2019:
- In FY 2019, USCIS approved approximately 30,000 L-1 nonimmigrant worker petitions, including L-1A (executives and managers), L-1B (workers with specialized knowledge), LZ (blanket L-1), and a small number of L-1 petitions not specified as either L-1A or L-1B when captured by USCIS’s electronic system of records. These petitions were filed by nearly 12,000 employers.
- Of the approximately 12,000 employers who were granted L-1 approvals in FY 2019, one employer had more than 1,000 petitions approved, 18 employers had between 100 and 999 petitions approved, and 269 employers had between 10 and 99 petitions approved. The top 2% of filers received nearly 40% of the total approvals, whereas the other 98% received about 60% of the total approvals.
- The top industries that obtained approvals for L-1A and L-1B nonimmigrant workers in FY 2019 were technology related, including Custom Computer Programming Services, Computer Systems Design, and Engineering Services. This is true for both total petitions and initial employment petitions.
- Of the total approved L-1 petitions (excluding LZ blanket petitions), 42% were for initial employment and 58% for continuing employment. Nearly two-thirds of the total were for L-1A classification and one-third was for L-1B classification.
Contact your WR attorney for help in filing L-1 petitions and advice in specific situations.
- USCIS L-1A information, https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/temporary-workers/l-1a-intracompany-transferee-executive-or-manager
- USCIS L-1B information, https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/temporary-workers/l-1b-intracompany-transferee-specialized-knowledge
- USCIS report, “Summary of Approved L-1 Petitions by Employers, Fiscal Year 2019,” https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/USCIS/statistics/1-L1Report_Report_02-26-20_DO_cleared.pdf
- Forbes, “Companies Say U.S. Consulate in India Denies L-1 Visas at Alarming Rate,” https://bit.ly/2TPSL0J
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