Analysis of new data obtained from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) reveals a dramatic increase in the number of L-1B Non Immigrant visa petitions filed, approved and denied, as well as the number of Requests for Evidence (“RFEs”) issued by the two Service Centers responsible for processing L-1 petitions, the California Service Center (“CSC”) and the Vermont Service Center (“VSC”). This data was released in response to a Freedom of Information request filed by the American Immigration Law Association (“AILA”).

As you can see from the chart below, the data reveals an increase in L-1B denial from 27% in FY2011 to 30% in FY2012 and 34% in FY2013.  These rates mark a distinct trend in steep increases from prior years:  7% in 2007, 22% in 2008, 26% in 2009, and 22% in 2010, despite the fact that there has been no change in the law or regulations related to L-1B visa.

L-1B Chart

The information indicates that USCIS has clearly changed its internal standard for adjudicating L-1B petitions and further, that there may be different internal standards at each of the Service Centers, given the higher number of RFEs and denials from the CSC.

The L-1B visa classification is available to key employees, with specialized knowledge, of multinational companies (called “intracompany transferees”). The L-1B visa requires that the employee has been employed abroad for one full year during the preceding three years by a foreign entity related to the U.S. company as a parent, branch, subsidiary or affiliate who has acquired specialized knowledge of the company’s business, operations, services and/or products.