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Hiring Professionals in the “No H-1B Zone”: The L-1B Alternative

10/19/2016
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For many employers, the lack of available H-1B visas is a large obstacle in their path to hiring foreign national professional employees in the U.S. However, it does not have to be a permanent roadblock. There are many alternatives to the H-1B visa that could work for certain employers, such as the L-1B visa.


The L-1B visa is reserved for U.S. employers who wish to transfer a professional employee (who has at least 1 continuous year of employment within the prior 3 years) from a foreign affiliate office to the U.S. company. To qualify, the employee must have specialized knowledge relating to the organization. The possessed knowledge must involve application of the company’s products, services, research, equipment, techniques, management, and/or other interests in the U.S. (i.e. special knowledge), or be at an advanced level pertaining to the company’s processes and procedures (i.e. advanced knowledge). The position being offered by the U.S. employer must also require the specialized knowledge.


In recent years, the unavailability of H-1B visas has led to an increased scrutiny on L-1B visas by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”). Many problems encountered by employers involve whether the professional employee actually possesses specialized knowledge and/or whether the offered position actually requires this knowledge. Contrary to popular belief, qualifying for an L-1B visa is not as simple as explaining how the employee and position fit into the above-mentioned definitions.  


A little over a year ago, USCIS expanded upon the general specialized knowledge definitions and further explained their applications. Now, not only must special knowledge involve, for example, application of the company’s products and services in the U.S., it must also be distinct or uncommon in comparison to the knowledge generally found in the industry.


Likewise, advanced knowledge must be of a nature not commonly found in the industry and must also be greater developed or further progressed, complex, and understood than what is normally found in the company.


Although the L-1B can be a useful tool for employers and professionals alike, the process involves various complications that can result in denial for the unwary. Due to the recent changes regarding specialized knowledge, USCIS is heavily scrutinizing L-1B petitions.  Prior to filing, performing a multi-step analysis of the employer, employee, and offered position, as well as other petition factors, is necessary. To be successful, it is crucial to have a knowledgeable immigration provider with specific L-1B experience to assist in the process.


Those interested in exploring the L-1B visa or other H-1B visa alternatives can contact GoffWilson for assistance. Tackling tough visa issues is what we do successfully for our clients on all visa types. Contact our office today for more information.

Filed under:H-1B Visa, Immigration Law