If you work for a multinational company, you may be considering transferring to the United States. Fortunately, U.S. immigration law has special visa categories for international executives and managers and also for individuals who have specialized knowledge about the company: L-1A and L-1B respectively.
Unlike other types of visas, such as the H-1B, there is no annual numerical cap for L-1 visas. You also do not have to file a labor condition application with the U.S. Department of Labor before applying for L-1 status. As such, the L-1A and L-1B may appear easier to obtain than many other visa classifications. Unfortunately, though, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services is approving fewer L-1 visa applications than it has in previous years.
About a 6% drop
A year ago, the USCIS had approved roughly 77.8% of L-1 visa applications. In 2019, though, the number of approvals has dropped considerably. In fact, the government reports that its approval rate for L-1A and L-1B applications stands at just under 72%. What is the reason for the nearly 6% drop in visa approvals? According to the USCIS, applicants are not providing sufficient evidence to prove they qualify for L-1 status.
Denials after requests for more information
Typically, if the USCIS notices a problem with a visa application or needs further documentation, an adjudicator issues a request for more information or additional evidence. Currently, however, applicants are not successfully convincing adjudicators when responding to these requests. In fiscal year 2015, USCIS approved more than 83% of L-1 applications after issuing a request for evidence. In 2019, the number of post-RFE approvals has fallen to just 64.5%.
The decline in both initial and post-RFE L-1 approvals should be enough to alarm any international employee. Unfortunately, the drop comports with President Trump’s Buy American, Hire American executive order. Still, you can use processing statistics to your advantage. By understanding that the USCIS is likely taking a harder look at L-1A and L-1B applications, you can better plan for supplementing your application with reliable and meaningful documentation.