Outside the H: Park takes on the L, O, and other specialized visas.
By: Ryan Mernin
Park is well-known throughout business immigration for specialty occupation expert opinion letters for H-1B visa petitions. However, Park also services L-1, O-1, EB, and a host of other visas offered by the United States government. In this series, “Thinking Outside the H,” we take a look at the unique challenges posed by these other visas, starting here, in this article, with the L-1B “specialized knowledge” petition.
The L-1B: How to Make Specialized Knowledge Stand Out in Your Petition
When it comes to filing an L-1 petition, perhaps the most difficult thing to do is gauge what USCIS is prone to challenge in your case. If you’re a client is a company executive transferring to the United States, then they’re likely fall pretty neatly into the “executive capacity” category laid out by USCIS, making the L-1A a clear and simple choice. For the vast majority of transferees, however, and for L-1B’s in particular, the waters are a bit murkier, and attempting to preempt or respond to the range of possible RFE challenges can result in some major headaches.
At Park, we’ve found that the best way to handle L-1B’s is a detailed breakdown of USCIS’ own “specialized knowledge” definition, a task the expert letter is unique suited to accomplishing.
L-1B: The Breakdown
The real-world definition of “Specialized Knowledge” is certainly a little tricky to pin down. While USCIS breaks it down into either “Advanced” or “Special” knowledge, the key here is to be able to point to specific and complex technologies, products, processes, methodologies, techniques, etc. that belong to the company and are only competently understood by a small group of people.
As one of those select few experts, your client’s petition should make two important points:
- The position abroad required specialized knowledge, and they therefore obtained it through extensive firsthand experience.
- The position in the United States requires the same specialized knowledge of the same proprietary things, and the beneficiary is therefore one of the only people who can readily fulfill this role.
(A USCIS policy memorandum from 2015 clarified these “Special” and “Advanced” definitions, and suggested that employers could conceivably have a large number of specialized knowledge employees, but as a rule of thumb the strength of this case rests on the complexity of the specialized knowledge, its necessity for the position, and the extensive work it took to acquire it.)
Now you may be saying Fine, but what is specialized knowledge? Fair question: the quickest examples to point to are company products or complex IT systems; i.e. easily identifiable things essential to the services or internal operation of the business. Complex company processes and procedures, however, are also perfectly good examples. The important thing is to name them and describe them in detail: this isn’t an overview of the complexities of your experience with the company, but a picking-out and extensive detailing of specific, nameable things.
The next step is to describe what exactly it is your client did that allowed them to obtain their unique expertise. In the case of an IT system, did they help build it? How do they contribute to its successful operation? The same goes for any process, technique, or methodology used by the company: What has been the beneficiary’s relationship to it, and what’s so special about that relationship?
And finally, USCIS is bound to ask what this has to do with the position in the United States? How will the same processes, technologies, methodologies, etc. be used to advance the organization, and why is this kind of select expertise so important?
Here again, the authority of an expert opinion can add some much-needed weightiness and technical specificity to any given petition. At Park, our experts draw on decades of experience in their specialties, and do their due diligence in every case to ensure that the specialized knowledge obtained by your client reads clearly on the page.
Ryan Mernin is a writer and operations analyst at Park Evaluations. Prior to joining Park, he was a freelance writer and editor, working both in print and for online news and business sites. Originally from New Jersey, he graduated from McGill University with a Bachelor’s in English Literature in 2017.