A Victory for Business Visas -- L-1 (Intra-company) Transferees
In a non-published opinion, the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) reversed the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and found that there was indeed a qualifying relationship between the foreign company and the U.S. company for the purposes of an L-1 visa.
Background: The L-1 Visa is available for foreign national executives, managers and other persons with specialized knowledge who have been working for a non-U.S. company and who may be transferred to a U.S. company. The U.S. company must be a subsidiary, branch, affiliate or joint venture partners of the non-U.S. company.
In its decision dated October 4, 2012, the AAO noted that the USCIS was wrong to deny the L-1 petition based solely upon the fact that the foreign company’s purchase of memberships of the U.S. company were for $51. Specifically, in this case, a Mexican company had made a subsidiary in the U.S. by acquiring the 51% of the U.S. company at a dollar a unit. The USCIS denied the petition claiming that given the revenue of the U.S. company, the dollar per unit price was too low to make a qualifying relationship between the two entities.
However, the AAO overturned this decision and noted that the USCIS may not supplant its business judgment for that of the owners.
In conclusion, many practitioners have felt that the L-1 visas have been under assault by the USCIS examiners who over-scrutinizee the requirements of the regulations. Thus, the above decision is a much-needed vindication for L-1 businesspersons and their advocates.