In response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by the National Foundation for American Policy, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provided data indicating that the denial rate for L-1B specialized knowledge petitions rose to 35 percent in fiscal year 2014. Since fiscal year 2007, there has been a sizable increase in L-1B denial rates. The 35 percent denial rate is a historic high and a sharp contrast to fiscal year 2007, when the denial rate was 7 percent. This trend is particularly confounding given that there have not been changes in legislation, federal regulations or adjudication standards.
In addition to the historically high L-1B denial rate, USCIS data revealed some telling adjudication patterns. For instance, between fiscal years 2012 to 2014, USCIS denied 56 percent of L-1B petitions filed for individuals from India. For all other countries, the L-1B denial rate during the same period was 13 percent. For Canadians, the L-1B denial rate was only 4 percent. Moreover, L-1B petitions requesting an extension of stay for an L-1B worker who was already in the United States were denied at a rate of 41 percent, whereas 32 percent of initial L-1B petitions were denied.
USCIS data also showed that approximately 45 percent of all L-1B petitions were issued a Request for Evidence, which can significantly slow the adjudication process. L-1B petitions filed for workers from India received a Request for Evidence at a rate of 65 percent between fiscal years 2012 to 2014. Over the same period of time, Requests for Evidence were issued at a rate of 35 percent for British workers, 3 percent for Canadians, 44 percent for Chinese, 36 percent for French, 37 percent for Germans, 33 percent for Japanese, and 40 percent for Mexicans.
The high rate of L-1B denials and Requests for Evidence severely impacts the ability of employers to transfer highly specialized workers to the United States, diminishing their capacity to increase jobs, innovate, administer projects, and grow production in the United States. The National Foundation for American Policy’s full report is accessible here.