What is L-1B specialized knowledge?

Specialized Knowledge L-1B visa

The L-1 visa category was created to facilitate the ease of transfer of employees between international companies with offices within the United States and abroad.The are two different L-1 visa classifications: L-1A Manager/Executive; and L-1B Specialized Knowledge. The 2012 U.S. Customs and Border Protection NAFTA Guide For TN and L Applicants defines L-1B Specialized Knowledge as:

Knowledge possessed by an individual of the petitioning organization’s:

  • Product
  • Service
  • Research
  • Equipment
  • Techniques
  • Management, or
  • other interests and its application in international markets, or
  • An advanced level of knowledge or expertise in the organization’s processes and procedures.
    • Note: There is no requirement that the alien’s specialized knowledge be “unique” or “proprietary” to the prospective employer.

Applications for L-1B visa status must demonstrate that the employee meets the specialized knowledge requirement. Not all employees of an organization, no matter their tenure, will qualify for L-1B visa status. In addition to the specialized knowledge requirement, L-1B visa candidates must also show that they have worked for the employer abroad for at least 1 year in the 3 years preceding the application. If approved, an employee can hold L-1B status within the United States for a total of 5 years.

If the L-1B specialized knowledge employee is coming to the United States to open a new office, the application must also demonstrate:

  • Sufficient physical premises to house the new office have been secured – CBP will not approve the L-1 visa without sufficient officer space. The required physical premises depends on the type of business. An IT services provider may only require a small 200 square foot office, while a large manufacturing business could require a 40,000 square foot facility; AND
  • The petitioner has the financial ability to remunerate the beneficiary and to commence doing business in the United States.

Canadian’s that meet the requirements for L-1B visa status have the luxury of applying at designated ports of entry and will receive a decision on the spot. L-1B visa applications are often more complex than their L-1A counterparts, are document intensive, and require substantial preparation. It is important that the necessary USCIS Forms are included in duplicate along with the necessary supporting evidence to support the qualifying relationship between the foreign and the U.S. entities, proof of financial ability to do business in the United States, proof of employment, and proof of specialized knowledge. The L-1B visa is not subject to numerical quotas, provides a great method for foreign employers to expand operations into the U.S. marketplace, and to transfer valuable employees from foreign offices to offices within United States. I am able to advise on all L-1 visa matters including new office expansion, L-1A visas for Managers/Executives, and L-1B visas for Specialized Knowledge Employees. I have extensive experience assisting companies of all sizes and have particular experience working with Canadian companies. Contact me directly if you have any additional questions or need assistance with the L-1 visa process.

Email me at: jr@richardskruger.com or Call 1-800-459-0270