L1B special knowledge

The L-1B visa classification enables US employers to transfer “Specialized knowledge” employees from an affiliated foreign office to an office in the United States. For the employee to qualify for transfer the employer must establish that the employee meets the minimum requirements for the L-1B visa classification. Find out how to prove your employee meets the L-1B Specialized knowledge requirements.

What are the minimum requirements for a “Specialized Knowledge” L-1B visa status?

At a minimum, you must show that the employee being sponsored for the L-1B visa:

  • Will be employed in a specialized knowledge capacity in the US;
  • Has prior education, training, and employment that qualifies them to perform the intended services in the US; AND
  • Has at least one (1) continuous year of full-time employment abroad with a qualifying organization within three (3) years before the application for admission to the US in a position that was managerial or executive, or involved specialized knowledge.

What is “Specialized Knowledge” for L-1B visa status?

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) defines “Specialized Knowledge” as:

  • Special knowledge possessed by an individual of the petitioning organization’s product, service, research, equipment, techniques, managment, or other interests and its aplication in international markets, or
  • An advanced level of knowledge or expertise in the organization’s processes and procedures.

What is “Special” knowledge for L-1B visa status?

USCIS defines “Special” knowledge as:

Knowledge of the petitioning organization’s product, service, research, equipment, techniques, management, or other interests, and its application in foreign international markets that is distinct or uncommon in comparison to that generally found in the particular industry.

What is “Advanced” knowledge for L-1B visa status?

USCIS defines “Advanced” knowledge as:

Knowledge or expertise in the petioning organization’s specific processes and procedures that is:

  • Not commonly found in the relevant industry, AND
  • Greatly developed or further along in progress, complexity and understanding than that generally found within the employer.

How do we prove “specialized knowledge” for an L-1B visa?

As part of the L-1B application process, you must demonstrate that the employee has specialized knowledge and that beneficiary’s prior education, training, and employment qualify them to perform the intended services in the United States; however, the work in the United States need not be the same work the alien performed abroad. According to USCIS, this requirement can be met by the following evidence:

  • Copies of the beneficiary’s training, pay, or other personnel records. 
  • An organizational chart or diagram, showing the foreign entity’s organizational structure and staffing levels. Clearly identify the beneficiary’s position in the chart. . A list of all employees in the beneficiary’s immediate division, department, or team, by name, job title, a summary of duties, education level, and salary. 
  • A letter from an authorized representative of the foreign entity describing the specialized knowledge duties of the position abroad. The letter should also describe the percentage of time spent on each duty. In addition, the letter should: 
    • Identify which of the petitioning organization’s products, services, tools, research, equipment, techniques, management, or processes and procedures involved in the beneficiary’s job duties required specialized knowledge
    • Explain how the knowledge or expertise is identified as either “special” or “advanced”; 
    • State the minimum time required to obtain this knowledge, including training and actual experience accrued after the completion of training
    • Explain the knowledge required to perform the duties of the foreign position and how it compares to that of similarly employed individuals within the employer and within the industry if you are seeking to establish that the beneficiary’s foreign position involved “advanced” knowledge. 
    • Additional documentary evidence to support the claims made in your letter and to show the knowledge involved in performing the duties of the beneficiary’s foreign position was special and/or advanced. 
  • Evidence of the beneficiary’s prior education, training, and employment and an explanation of how that relates to the claimed specialized knowledge. 
  • A description of the beneficiary’s knowledge or expertise and why it is specialized.
  • A comparison of the beneficiary’s knowledge to that of other employees and workers in the same field. 
  • Documentation of training, work experience, or education establishing the number of years the individual has been using or developing the claimed specialized knowledge as an employee of the petitioning organization or in the industry; 
  • Evidence of the impact, if any, the transfer of the individual would have on the petitioning organization’s U.S. operations;
  • Evidence that the alien is qualified to contribute to the U.S. operation’s knowledge of foreign operating conditions as a result of knowledge not generally found in the petitioning organization’s U.S. operations; 
  • Contracts, statements of work, or other documentation that shows that the beneficiary possesses knowledge that is particularly beneficial to the petitioning organization’s competitiveness in the marketplace; 
  • Evidence, such as correspondence or reports, establishing that the beneficiary has been employed abroad in a capacity involving assignments that have significantly enhanced the petitioning organization’s productivity, competitiveness, image, or financial position; 
  • Personnel or in-house training records that establish that the beneficiary’s claimed specialized knowledge normally can be gained only through prior experience or training with the petitioning organization; 
  • Curricula and training manuals for internal training courses, financial documents, or other evidence that may demonstrate that the beneficiary possesses knowledge of a product or process that cannot be transferred or taught to another individual without significant economic cost or inconvenience; 
  • Evidence of patents, trademarks, licenses, or contracts awarded to the petitioning organization based on the beneficiary’s work, or similar evidence that the beneficiary has knowledge of a process or a product that either is sophisticated or complex or of a highly technical nature, although not necessarily proprietary or unique to the petitioning organization; 
  • Payroll documents, federal or state wage statements, documentation of other forms of compensation, resumes, organizational charts, or similar evidence documenting the positions held and the compensation provided to the beneficiary and parallel employees in the petitioning organization; and 
  • Any other evidence that shows the beneficiary has specialized knowledge. USCIS will review the entire record to determine whether the petitioner has established by a preponderance of the evidence that the beneficiary has specialized knowledge under the totality of the circumstances.

The L-1B visa classification for those with specialized knowledge can be difficult to prove. It is important to be specific and include as much evidence in support of the specialized knowledge as possible.

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