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USCIS Summarizes Stakeholder Engagement on L-1B Interpretation of 'Specialized Knowledge'

On June 14, 2011, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released an executive summary of its stakeholder engagement session held in May to discuss issues related to the L-1B nonimmigrant classification, specifically with respect to interpretation of the term "specialized knowledge" and what standards and evidentiary requirements should be followed in determining eligibility for this classification.

USCIS reported, among other things, that an overwhelming majority of stakeholders asserted that the existing regulatory definition of "specialized knowledge" and USCIS policy memoranda relating to this issue are "fine as written, and there is no need to issue any new policy memorandum." Some stakeholders reportedly said that the definition of "specialized knowledge" should be interpreted more broadly than is currently being practiced at the service centers. Stakeholders noted that USCIS is interpreting the definition too narrowly, as evidenced by Requests for Evidence (RFE) and denials that many petitioners are receiving for this category. One stakeholder stated that it appears that USCIS has made a change in its interpretation in recent years without any change in the law. Some stakeholders said that the current interpretation did not meet the needs of employers because it was being too strictly and narrowly interpreted. They suggested that it would better serve employers if there were more flexibility and a broader interpretation of the term. USCIS said it "will provide additional guidance and training to USCIS officers adjudicating L-1B petitions."

The summary is available at http://www.uscis.gov/USCIS/Outreach/Upcoming%20National%20Engagements/National%20Engagement%20Pages/2011%20Events/May%202011/L-1B%20SK%20stakeholder%20teleconf%20Executive%20Summary%20-%20SCOPSOPSOCC%20_6-14-11_.pdf. Additional Department of State guidance on L visas and specialized knowledge, released in January, is available at http://travel.state.gov/pdf/Guidance_on_L_Visas_and_Specialized_Knowledge-Jan2011.pdf.

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