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L-1B Specialized Knowledge Employee

A potential client contacted me because their company needed to transfer an important employee from their foreign parent company. The Human Resources (HR) Manager explained that their attorney had filed a L-1A Executive or High-Level Manager petition, but it was denied. Following their attorney’s advice, they refiled the application as a L-1B Specialized Knowledge Employee. I did not see the logic behind this change in strategy, but they now had a Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) stating that it was not clear how this employee’s knowledge was specialized.

In recent years, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) had tightened its interpretation of what constitutes specialized knowledge. As such, the task at hand was going to require a much more detailed explanation of not only how the knowledge was specialized, but also how the employee obtained the knowledge and why it is important to the company. With the government’s standard in mind, I interviewed the client about the industry in which they operate, what employees in this position are expected to do, what training such employees receive, and how such employees are selected and developed internally. Then, I started my research.

My research revealed that the client’s company was one of only a handful of companies in the world that operated in that industry and that it had patents and regularly invented technologies for its clients. The company was clearly on the cutting edge and had a proprietary internal training program that covered the proffered employee’s position. At this point it was becoming clear as to how the knowledge was specialized and how the employee had obtained it, but it was still not clear as to why it was important to the company’s operations and whether such knowledge was readily available in the industry despite the internal training program.

The HR Manager arranged for me to interview the employee’s supervisor and compare training records of similarly situated employees, for which there were only a handful of other employees. I was able to ask questions that focused on the importance of the position and the uniqueness and limited availability of the knowledge required to perform the job duties. I took this information and put it in the context of the client’s global market position and the proprietary nature of its services and technology. Along with all of the documentary evidence that I gathered, we submitted a response to the NOID. A few weeks later, we received the approval of the petition from the USCIS.