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Strategies for Responding to L-1 Requests for Evidence

By January 26, 2023Immigration, L-1 Visa
A woman going through a bunch of files in a filing cabinet

The L-1 visa category allows U.S. companies that have a qualifying relationship with a company or branch abroad to transfer an executive, managerial or specialized knowledge worker to the United States to work for the U.S. company. The employee must have worked for the international company or branch for at least one year out of the past three years in a managerial, executive or specialized knowledge role and must be coming to the U.S. to work in a managerial, executive or specialized knowledge role, although the role in the U.S. does not have to be the same as the role abroad.

How common are L-1 Requests for Evidence?

U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) releases yearly data on the percentage of Requests for Evidence (RFEs) for L-1 petitions. This data shows high rates of RFEs from 2017 to 2022 as listed below:

  • 2017: 36.2% of L-1 petitions received RFEs
  • 2018: 45.6% of L-1 petitions received RFEs
  • 2019: 54.3% of L-1 petitions received RFEs
  • 2020: 54.2% of L-1 petitions received RFEs
  • 2021: 52.3% of L-1 petitions received RFEs
  • 2022: 36.5% of L-1 petitions received RFEs

By looking at these figures we can see that L-1 RFEs are extremely common. From 2019 – 2021, more than half of all L-1 petitions received a Request for Evidence.

How many petitions that receive RFEs are ultimately approved?

USCIS also provides the percentage of approvals for petitions that received an RFE as shown below.

  • 2017: 49.5% of L-1 petitions that received RFEs were approved
  • 2018: 52.9% of L-1 petitions that received RFEs were approved
  • 2019: 50.8% of L-1 petitions that received RFEs were approved
  • 2020: 56.4% of L-1 petitions that received RFEs were approved
  • 2021: 65.4% of L-1 petitions that received RFEs were approved
  • 2022: 65.2% of L-1 petitions that received RFEs were approved

We can see from the data that the percentage of petitions approved after RFE has been improving since 2019, although there are still a significant percentage of petitions that are ultimately denied.

What should I do if I receive a Request for Evidence?

If you receive a Request for Evidence, you should read the RFE carefully to determine what additional documents USCIS wants to see and make sure to submit the response in a timely manner. One of the most common issues raised in an L-1 RFE is the question of whether the foreign national’s role abroad and role in the U.S. each qualify under the definition of Executive, Manager or Specialized Knowledge employee. Below are some strategies for responding to these types of RFEs:

  • Prepare a detailed letter signed by an authorized company representative that includes specific examples of work the foreign national has performed and tie that back to the regulatory definitions for executive, manager or specialized knowledge employee.
  • Provide documentary evidence such as work product, policy handbooks, operating procedures, meeting minutes and email chains that show how the applicant meets the L-1 criteria. For example, if the applicant is a manager, you could include examples of performance reviews they conducted for their direct reports or email chains showing them exercising authority to hire, fire or recommend other personnel actions. For each piece of evidence, provide a cover sheet that explains what the work product or email chain is showing, so the officer can easily understand how it demonstrates that the applicant meets the L-1 criteria.
  • Provide a chart listing all employees in the applicant’s department, including their names, job duties, education level, salary and reporting relationships. This can help to demonstrate how the direct reports or people within the applicant’s department will relieve them from any non-qualifying job duties. If you are able to provide documentary evidence to support the information in the chart, such as work product, emails, copies of the employees’ payroll and degrees, this can also be helpful.

While RFEs for L-1 visas are very common, it is often still possible to ultimately obtain an approval by submitting a detailed response that includes documentary evidence to back up statements made in the L-1 support letters.

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