USCIS Inspector General Issues Report regarding L Visas

by Ronald Shapiro

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently issued a report to the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) regarding the implementation of L-1 visa regulations. The report contains various recommendations to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and USCIS on ways to prevent and deter fraud and abuse within the L-1 intracompany transferee visa program. The report’s findings and recommendations are based on domestic and international fieldwork, including observations of DHS personnel and Department of State consular officials processing L-1 petitions and visas, as well as interviews with 71 managers and staff members of DHS and the Department of State.

The report contains the following 10 recommendations:

    • That USCIS publish new guidance that is sufficiently explicit to give USCIS adjudicators an improved basis for determining whether employees of a petition entity possess specialized knowledge.
    • That USCIS screen L-1 beneficiaries against a list of persons previously denied visas.
    • That USCIS develop broader working level communications opportunities between Immigration Service Officers adjudicating L petitions and Department of State consular offices adjudicating L visa applications.
    • That CBP provide thorough L-1 visa training regarding eligibility, L-1 fraud detection, fee assessment accuracy, specialized knowledge, and the Visa Reform Act to all CBP officers processing L-1 travelers at ports of entry or preclearance/preflight stations in Canada.
    • That CBP and USCIS establish fraud fee collection guidelines for CBP officers processing L-1 travelers.
    • That USCIS require site visits before extending 1 year new office petitions.
    • That CBP request that USCIS provide CBP officers at the northern border ports of entry and preclearance locations with access to Validation Instrument for Business Enterprises (VIBE), a web-based tool that uses commercially available data to validate basic information about companies petitioning to employ alien workers, to assist in L-1 petition processing.
    • That USCIS grant CBP access to VIBE to assist in L-1 petition processing and promote program integrity.
    • That USCIS create a regulation on the Visa Reform Act anti “job shop” provisions that will increase consistency in decision making.
    • That USCIS update existing guidance on the Visa Reform Act anti “job shop” provisions that Immigration Service Officers can use until a new regulation is created.

The L work visa category allows multinational companies to transfer overseas employees to the United States. In order to be eligible for an L-1 visa, the sponsored manager or executive:

    • Must have been employed by the company outside the U.S. in a management or executive capacity for one or more years (continuously) within the three years prior to the transfer, and
    • The sponsored employee has been employed outside of the U.S. by the subsidiary, corporate affiliate, or parent company of the U.S. employer… that is sponsoring the employee.
    • Must be transferring to a managerial or executive position

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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