© 2014 David S. Willig

While the media and the legislative branch of the U.S. government try to figure out whether Americans want or care about Immigration Reform, there are some executive policies on immigration, having nothing to do with deportation or removal, that could be changed for better merely by enforcing the law differently.

While some on Capitol Hill have suggested that the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program may well be displacing American workers, another visa program has come under withering criticism by the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP).

The NFAP issued a report in March 2014 analyzing data on L-1B visas, both for approvals and denials of the same, from 2012-2013.  The L-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa which, which according toe U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, allows an employer to transfer an employee into the United States who has worked at least one year abroad for the employer. “

But that’s really just scratching the surface, just like it is only scratching the surface to conclude, as the NFAP did in its report, that “obtaining temporary status is essential for international students, skilled foreign nationals abroad, and others seeking to work legally in the United States,” and that the “high rate of denials…for L-1B petitions has a negative impact on the ability of companies to make products and services in the United States and compete globally.”

There is much more to the L-1 visa than that.  It is worth noting, too, that the visa comes in two forms, the L-1A for a transferred executive or manager, and the L-1B, for transfer of  a professional-level employee with specialized knowledge relating to the company, its business and its interests.

Indeed, every application for an L-1 visa, whether A of B, is a vote of confidence in the U.S. market and in the ability of the U.S. to compete globally.  The L-1B is not really about “obtaining temporary status for…skilled foreign nationals abroad.”  It is about investing in the United States because of every L-1B visa application represents a capital investment in this country by an entrepreneur, or by an enterprise, to establish a beachhead in the US market.

An L-1B petition has, at its heart, a request that an executive from another country be permitted to work in the United States temporarily to develop the business of the U.S. branch of the international company sending that executive.  So, yes, there is a skilled foreign national coming into the U.S.   But, there is also an investment to set up an office, a factory or a showroom, and a necessary investment in American workers to support that effort.

The L-1 visa applicant can be a small company or a big company.  That is why there exists a “blanket L-1” for movement of multiple company executives  relatively large, established companies having multi-layered structures and numerous related business entities.

So the question, as posed by the NFAP, is not really whether U.S.C.I.S. adjudicators or their supervisors been attempting to prevent the movement of people in the global economy.   The real question is whether U.S.C.I.S. adjudicators and their supervisors have had a role in diminishing international direct investment in the United States by those very L-1 A and B visa applicants.


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