L-1 Visas… No Longer The Go-To Visa for Multi-National Companies?

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In August, the Office of Inspector General issued a report on L-1 visas that will undoubtedly affect the future availability and adjudication process of such visas in the future. The L-1 visa category is used by multi-national companies to bring executives, managers and other workers with “specialized knowledge” to their offices in the United States (or to set up a new office in the United States). The original intent of the L-1 category was to make it easy for large multinational companies to transfer personnel to the United States.

Senator Charles Grassley requested this report in order to examine whether there is fraud or abuse with respect to the L-1 visa program.  In response to this request, the report made several recommendations to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), including:

  • Issuing new guidance with respect to the interpretation of the term “specialized knowledge”
  • Increased training for Customs and Border Protection officers processing L-1 petitions
  • Site visits for new US office L-1s
  • Reducing the number of available L-1 visas (not currently capped)

The USCIS has agreed with many of these recommendations, but it is only speculation about the degree to which USCIS will make any changes with respect to L-1 guidance or the timing.