The following excerpts are taken from a report by
The N A T I O N A L F O U N D A T I O N F O R A M E R I C A N P O L I C Y
The denial rate for L-1B petitions to transfer high-skilled employees into the United States increased to an historic
high of 35 percent in Fiscal Year (FY) 2014, according to data obtained from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). In FY 2006 the denial rate for L-1B petitions was only 6 percent. It rose to 30 percent in FY 2012 and to 34 percent
in FY 2013, representing a more than five-fold increase in the rate of denials despite no new regulation changing the adjudication standard.
Employers say USCIS actions affect their ability to increase jobs, innovations and production inside the United States. Since 2012, USCIS has pledged to issue guidance on transferring employees
with “specialized knowledge” on L-1B petitions, a pledge repeated in November 2014. To date, no guidance has been forthcoming.
Interestingly, USCIS denies L-1B petitions at a higher rate for employees already working in the US and extending their status (41% in FY2014) than initial applications (32%). Time-consuming Requests for Evidence (RFE) from adjudicators for L-1B petitions have continued at a
high level – 45 percent in FY 2014. In FY 2004, only 2 percent of cases received a Request for Evidence.
Robert Deasy, deputy director of programs at the American Immigration Lawyers Association, has examined examples of Requests for Evidence and found a troubling pattern. “Petitioning firms learn from prior RFE and denial experience, and ‘build’ their petitions to speak up-front at the time of submission to issues they’ve seen in the past and have had to address. That strategy doesn’t always work because RFE and denial templates are constantly changed by USCIS, and new demands for evidence appear in RFEs, and new grounds to deny petitions appear in final decisions. What is most concerning is that RFE and denial templates and rationales are developed behind the scenes in a policy vacuum; moreover, hyper-exacting evidentiary and documentary demands made by USCIS undermine the principle of ‘the totality of the evidence’ and the preponderance of the evidence standard.
Our firm has constantly been revising, updating and changing the way we do L-1b letters. Looking at the statistics, we have certainly been able to put together a winning petition in the vast majority of our cases. Of course, the facts have to be there and the company really needs to get into the nitty gritty details of the case to succeed on an L-1b these days. Every year, we are hoping for a fairer and more consistent adjudication of L-1B’s but so far, nothing has changed for the better, only for the worse.