L-1B Specialized Knowledge Definition Getting Clearer

Recent Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) rulings have helped clarify the specialized knowledge requirement for L-1B Intracompany Transfers.

As we have noted at our website, the L non-immigrant work visa category is a very useful tool for international companies needing to bring foreign employees to the United States. In order for the employees of companies located overseas to qualify for an L visa, the company must meet several specific conditions and the employee must have worked in a “managerial”, “executive” or “specialized knowledge” capacity and be coming to the U.S. to perform in one of those capacities.

However, as we have noted in previous blogs, we have found the “specialized knowledge” (L-1B) category to be particularly problematic and essentially a tactic to restrict the number of L-1B visas that are granted.  Until recently, there have been relatively few USCIS Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) decisions that have addressed specialized knowledge.

The statuary definition of specialized knowledge is spelled out at Section 214(c)(2)(B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. This section addresses specialized knowledge in 2 parts:

  • Special knowledge of the company product and its application in international markets; OR
  • Advanced knowledge of processes and procedures of the company

According to the statute, the petitioning company may provide evidence that the employee is eligible for the L-1B category by meeting either of these 2 definitions. However, USCIS adjudication decisions have tended to rely on regulations, often obsolete ones, rather than on the language in the underlying statute. Some recently decided cases by the USCIS AAO have helped clarify that the statutory definitions of the specialized knowledge requirement should serve as the guidepost for adjudication decisions.

We look forward to filing L-1B petitions with the “new old look” – laying out the 2 prong test for our evidence.

Article categories: Intra-company Transfers

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