Understanding L-1 Visa Denials & Steps To Navigate Denials

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What is L-1 visa?

The L-1 visa allows a U.S. employer to transfer employees in a managerial or executive position or those with specialized knowledge from a foreign office to a U.S. office. It also allows a foreign company to send these employees to the U.S. to establish a new office. The employer must submit Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, with the required fee on behalf of the employee being transferred.

For a more comprehensive guide about the L-1 visa, click here.

Common Reasons For L-1 Visa Denials

  • Insufficient documentation or evidence

Inadequate supporting documentation is one of the most common reasons why L-1 visa applications get denied. When applying for an L-1 visa, it is vital to provide comprehensive and compelling evidence to demonstrate your eligibility and prove that you meet the requirements of the visa category. Your documents must be properly translated into English, organized, and neatly presented. Ensure you double-check the following:

Proof of a qualifying relationship – If you are being transferred from a foreign office to a U.S. office of the same company, ensure that you have sufficient evidence to demonstrate a qualifying relationship between the foreign office and the U.S. office.

Some documents you can use to prove this includes articles of incorporation, ownership records, and financial statements to establish the connection.

Job offer and description – Ensure you clearly outline the position you will be occupying in the U.S., whether a managerial, executive, or position requiring specialized knowledge. Include the specific qualifications, duties, and responsibilities required of you. Ensure the job description is detailed and showcases the necessity of your role within the organization.

Business plan (applicable only for establishing a new U.S. office) – The business plan must be comprehensive, showcasing the nature of the business, a market analysis, financial projections, and the company’s organizational structure. It should demonstrate the company’s potential for growth and success in the U.S.

  • Lack of qualification

You must thoroughly understand the L-1 visa requirements and ensure you meet them before submitting your application. Some points to consider include:

Demonstrate your qualifications – Whether you are being transferred as an employee in a managerial or executive position or someone with specialized knowledge, ensure you have adequate evidence to support your qualifications for your L-1 visa application, such as your employment records, educational certificates, letters of recommendation, performance evaluations, training records, patents, and testimonials to demonstrate your professional experience, expertise, and achievements.

Duration of employment – Remember that the L-1 visa requires that you have been employed by the company for at least one continuous year within the three years preceding your L-1 application. Support this with tax records, pay stubs, and employment contracts.

  • Errors or inconsistencies

You must avoid any errors or inconsistencies that could raise concerns about your application or lead to a denial. Thoroughly review your documents and pay attention to details to avoid this. Consider the following:

Consistency – Ensure all your information are accurate and consistent. Conflicting information creates doubts and harms your credibility.

Complete documentation – Ensure all supporting documents or evidence are accurate and updated. Discrepancies between the information you provide and your supporting evidence can result in a denial.

Complete forms – Missing or incomplete information may result in denial since it creates confusion. Ensure all fields are properly filled with complete and correct information, and do not omit necessary details.

Review for errors – Ensure a professional presentation by reviewing for grammatical and typographical errors to avoid undermining your professionalism and the attention to detail you are trying to convey.

  • Lack of a genuine relationship

Demonstrating a genuine connection between the foreign entity and the U.S. entity is one of the most crucial aspects of the L-1 visa, whether you are transferring to an already established U.S. office or establishing a new one. Here are key considerations to address:

Ownership and control – To demonstrate the control and ownership between the two entities, you can use ownership records, shareholder agreements, articles of incorporation, or other documents evidencing the parent company’s control over the U.S. entity.

Shared operations and policies – Demonstrate significant integration and coordination between the U.S. and foreign offices through common policies and procedures, joint projects, shared business practices, and regular communication.

Financial records – Establish ongoing business relationships and financial interdependence between the two entities through banking transactions, financial statements, and tax records.

Business plan (applicable only for establishing a new U.S. office) – As previously mentioned, the business plan should demonstrate the company’s intention to develop and expand the company’s presence in the U.S.

Steps to Take If Your L-1 Visa is Denied

  • Analyze the denial notice

The USCIS’ denial notice includes insight into the basis for denying your application. You must delve into the details to identify areas for improvement or clarification to address the concerns raised by the U.S. adjudicator. Take the following steps:

Check for eligibility issues – This could include factors like insufficient evidence of qualifying managerial or executive responsibilities or failure to meet the criteria for specialized knowledge. It could also be a lack of proof regarding the relationship between the U.S. and foreign entities. Understanding where you fell short will help strengthen your application’s weak areas.

Identify documentation deficiencies – Assess your documentation and identify where you fell short. Check for missing or incomplete evidence, inadequate explanations, untranslated documents, or inconsistencies that may have led to the denial. Doing so will enable you to gather additional documents for your next attempt.

Seek clarification if necessary – Do not hesitate to contact the USCIS if you find the denial notice vague. Contact their customer service and seek help or hire an immigration attorney to provide guidance and clarity as to why your application was rejected.

  • Explore alternative options

While denial may feel discouraging, there are other visa categories that may be applicable to you. It is crucial to consider other pathways that could be applicable to your situation. It is advisable to consult with an experienced immigration lawyer to find the most suitable visa category alternative for you. Here are some options to consider:

H-1B visa – This visa is suitable if you have specialized knowledge in a specialty occupation and a U.S. employer is willing to sponsor you.

O-1 visa – This visa is applicable if you possess extraordinary abilities, skills, and achievements in the arts, business, education, athletics, or sciences.  

E-2 visa – This visa is suitable if you are a national of a country under the treaty of commerce and navigation with the U.S. You must also invest substantial capital in a bona fide U.S. enterprise and work in that enterprise.

EB visa – Depending on your individual circumstances, qualifications, and job offer, you may be able to pursue an employment-based visa. This option is lengthier and more extensive as it provides a direct path to permanent residency. It is best to consult with an immigration lawyer to check if you qualify.

  • Seek legal advice

An immigration lawyer can provide valuable guidance and support to help you navigate the process of addressing your L-1 visa application denial. You will benefit from the following:

Case analysis and review – An immigration attorney can thoroughly analyze your case, assess the strengths and weaknesses of your application, identify the legal grounds for the denial, and provide you with viable options moving forward. Thus, they can help you determine whether filing an appeal or reapplying is more worthwhile.

Immigration lawyer’s knowledge and expertise – Immigration attorneys stay updated on the latest visa policies and can provide timely and accurate advice tailored to your circumstances.

Document preparation and review – An immigration attorney can help you prepare and organize necessary documents and evidence for your reapplication or appeal. They will ensure your gathered evidence are relevant, effective, persuasive, and error-free, addressing the deficiencies of your previous application.

Communication with the USCIS – An immigration attorney can communicate and represent you when corresponding with the USCIS on your behalf. They will ensure compliance with all necessary legal procedures.

It is important to find the right partner to help navigate the process of dealing with an L-1 visa rejection or to prevent one. Having the right partner, such as Immigration Business Plan, by your side can make a significant difference in your journey towards obtaining an L-1 visa successfully.

Immigration Business Plan specializes in immigration consulting services and business plan creation. Our team of experts has extensive experience handling L-1A and L-1B visa cases and is equipped to guide you from start to finish. With us, you can expect:

  • Expert guidance and support

  • Streamlined process and execution

  • Customized and compelling business plans

  • Peace of mind

Contact us here. Let us assist you in making your L-1 visa application a success.

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