DHS Ombudsman office hosts call on L-1b issues

By |2012-02-08T22:25:03+00:00February 8th, 2012|Categories: Government Agency Actions - USCIS, ICE, etc., US Immigration Policy, Visas - H-1b, L-1, E, O, TN|Tags: , , , |

Several HLG attorneys attended the DHS Ombudsman open forum on L-1b petitions.  At some point in the future, an official summary will be posted on the Ombudsman web-site. Until then, below are some items of interest. The DHS acknowledged that there has been a tremendous narrowing of the interpretation of the definition of "specialized knowledge" without any statutory or regulatory changes. The denial rates for L-1b petitions have now risen to 27% whereas, it had never exceeded 7%  prior to 2008. The rate of denials is much higher for IT petitions. The RFE rate has now reached over 66%. The DHS also acknowledged inconsistent treatment of petitions between the 2 service centers with the California Service Center having higher denial rates.  It was speculated that the standard being used by the service centers stems from a 2008 AAO case, GST which many scholarly experts have posited is possibly the most legally defective decision to ever be issued by an administrative law judge. The essential point of the GST opinion was that "if everyone is specialized, no one is specialized" Although, the merits of this policy remain without legal support, the reality is that this is the current policy being applied by the USCIS.   The Ombudsman office acknowledged that new training materials were provided to the USCIS in Oct of 2011 however, to date, the USCIS has refused to release those materials. The Ombudsman office re-affirmed that new L-1b guidance was being developed by USCIS headquarters however, no timetable was provided for the release of such guidance. Overall, it was an excellent session and it was heartening to have a DHS official listen and accept input from stakeholders. We applaud the efforts of the Ombudsman's office and look forward to closer scrutiny of the USCIS service centers treatment of  L-1b petitions.