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Senator Grassley & Senator Durbin Express Concern Over L-1B Visas

March 13, 2012

Last week Senator Charles Grassley (R – Iowa) and Senator Dick Durbin (D – Illinois) sent a letter to USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas expressing concern over USCIS’s proposal to issue new guidance on the L-1B “specialized knowledge” standard. Both senators expressed “[concern] about attempts by unscrupulous petitioners to obtain L-1B status for workers who do not truly possess specialized knowledge relating to the petitioning company.”

On May 12th of last year USCIS hosted a stakeholders conference to discuss the issue of the L-1B “specialized knowledge” standard. According to the notes of the meeting

An overwhelming majority of stakeholders asserted that the existing regulatory definition of “specialized knowledge” and USCIS policy memoranda which relate to this issue are fine as written, and there is no need to issue any new policy memorandum. Some stakeholders provided feedback indicating 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 the Requests for Evidence (RFE) and denials which are being received by many petitioners 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.

USCIS also sought feedback from stakeholders on whether the current interpretation being used by Service Centers meets the needs of employers.  Some stakeholders stated 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 was an increased flexibility and a broader interpretation of the term specialized knowledge.

The joint press release accompanying the letter on Senator Grassley’s website and Senator Durbin’s website states, “Grassley and Durbin are leading the effort to reform the H-1B and L visa programs and are planning to introduce legislation later this year.”

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