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L1B Visa Worker's Specialized Knowledge and USCIS' Restrictions

Hi William:

As a U.S. employer, we want to hire some foreign workers with L1B visa to work at our client site, as an alternative to the H1B visa. What are the USCIS' restrictions for L1B workers for the "specialized knowledge" of the company and the products/service?


The L-1B nonimmigrant visa enables a U.S. employer to transfer a professional employee with specialized knowledge relating to the company’s interests from its foreign offices to one of its offices in the U.S.  The L1B visa enables a foreign company which does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send a specialized knowledge employee to U.S. to help establish one.  The employer must file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker with fee, on behalf of the employee.

Specialized knowledge means either special knowledge possessed by an foreign individual of the petitioning organization’s product, service, research, equipment, techniques, management, or other interests and its application in international markets, or an advanced level of knowledge or expertise in the organization’s processes and procedures.

If the
L-1B visa holder will work at employer's client site, the L1B worker should be supervised by a person from the L1B-sponsoring employer, the restriction may apply if the L1B beneficiaries are not doing work that requires specialized knowledge. For example, if a company primarily contracts out employees to various projects that do not require the specialized knowledge possessed by the L1B beneficiary, the L1B petition may not be approved.

Thus, the L1B is not always available as an alternative to the H1B visa. These restrictions are designed to eliminate the practice of characterizing workers as L1B specialized-knowledge workers, when their work could have been performed by workers without any particular experience or familiarity with the company or its products. 

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