Sanwar Ali on Trump L1 visa requirements and other changes

By Sanwar Ali

There are even greater difficulties in obtaining L1 visas under Trump.  This means more Requests for Further Evidence and more refusals.  Trump’s Buy American and Hire American executive order has resulted in significant changes in the processing of visas.  This has happened without changes in the law passed by Congress.

Since 29 November 2018 following the L1 visa Policy Memorandum there are now more stringent requirements and L1 visas have in effect become even more difficult to obtain.  Other non-immigrant and immigrant visa categories have been affected since the Trump Presidency including the H1B visa, B1 in lieu of H1B visa, E2 visa, E1 visa, O1A visa and O1B visa.

L1 Visa one year time spent to qualify must be abroad

Some points seem to have been clarified:

  1. The time period spent working for the organisation should be at least one year out of the last three years outside the US before the L1 petition is submitted to USCIS.
  2. Time must have been physically spent by the employee outside the US.  Even if periods spent in the US by the employee was while the employee was continued to be paid outside the US by the foreign organisation that wishes to transfer the employee to the US.

The USCIS provides the following example:

“if the qualifying foreign entity began to employ the beneficiary on January 1, 2016, and the beneficiary made brief trips to the United States that year for a total of 60 days, the beneficiary would need to accrue at least an additional 60 days of qualifying employment abroad after January 1, 2017, in order to meet the one-year foreign employment requirement."  

New US L1 Visa policy applied retroactively

L1 visa applicants applying for extensions may be affected as well.  If the USCIS thinks that the original L1 visa petition application did not meet the criteria as it is now, then the L1 petition extension may be refused.  This means at the time of the L1 visa extension, if you cannot show that when the original L1 visa petition was granted that you met the current requirement (based on the latest Policy Memorandum) to show one year employment outside the US by the qualifying organisation in the last three years the extension may be refused.

Greater care needs to be taken to make sure that applicants meet the L1 visa requirements.  It is more important than ever, that applicants who spend any time in the US need to take this into account when applying for an L1 visa. 

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