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Today, our office received information from the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) which reported that (pursuant to a Freedom of Information Request) on February 26, 2014, the USCIS released statistics regarding the number of L-1B nonimmigrant petitions received, approved, and denied, as well the number of L-1B petitions for which a Request for Evidence (“ RFE”) was issued.

About 50% of all L-1B Petitions receive an RFE, and about 35% are ultimately denied with only 65% approved.

The L-1B denial rate for Fiscal Year 2012 was 30% and increased in FY2013 to 34%.

In Fiscal Year 2012, 18,740 L-1B petitions were processed. Out of those, 8,688 were sent Requests for Evidence, so almost half of all L-1B petitions were sent back to the petitioner for further questions.  Out of those, 6,068 were denied.  In other words, in 2012, if an L-1b received an RFE, there was an 70% chance of denial.

In Fiscal Year 2013, which ended on September 30, 2013, 17,723 applications were filed, so essentially 1,000 less petitions than the year before.  In spite of this, 8,363 petitions (so again almost half) were sent back to petitioners with an RFE, and out of these, 6,242 were denied.  So this year, the denial rate was even higher with almost 75%of all petitions, which received RFE’s, being denied.

About 95% of all L-1B petitions prepared by our firm are approved, 30% more than the average norm.

These statistics are further evidence of the heightened scrutiny given to this L-1B visa category.  Our firm files many L-1B’s every year, and we estimate that at most, only about 5-7% of our petitions are denied.  We spend an enormous amount of time trying to gather detailed information about the company, the company’s business and products, the U.S. position and the specialized knowledge that the beneficiary possesses.  Our L-1B petition letters are generally in excess of 20 pages, and our responses to RFEs are usually even longer.

Our Recommendations to increase your chance of success.

We cannot emphasize the importance of providing detailed information about the petitioner, the beneficiary, and specific the plans of the company, as well as  documentation for every aspect of the specialized knowledge required and possessed.

Sometimes, even if the petition covers all of requisite factors and is well presented, USCIS doesn’t agree and denies the petition.  As USCIS has reported, they deny about one (1) out of every three (3) L-1B cases.  Admittedly, this presents a huge risk to a company wishing to bring in foreign nationals from an affiliate company abroad.

If a company is able to use the L-1 Blanket Program, however, we have found that in many consulates, specifically in Japan, that the L-1B adjudication is more reasonable and consistent.  Therefore, we generally recommend using a blanket at a U.S. Embassy abroad vs. an individual petition filed with USCIS.