MOSAIC Paradigm Law Group PC.
MOSAIC Paradigm Law Group PC.

How to Apply for An L-1B Visa If You Have A Lower Education Background Or An Irrelevant Major?


The client, in this case, Mr. M, is a technician of a Chinese oil service enterprise. The enterprise has signed commercial contracts to provide services regarding several oilfield equipment installations and daily operations in the United States. Since it is difficult to recruit technicians who can use the equipment and have a high sense of responsibility locally, the Chinese parent company decided to send Mr. M to the United States to be responsible for equipment installation, daily production equipment, maintenance, and training of local workers in an operating oil field. The company selected MPLG’s immigration team to apply for an L-1B work visa for Mr. M. MPLG’s immigration team carefully planned, analyzed, and sorted out Mr. M's materials, and finally, the application was approved without Request for Evidence/RFE.

L-1B visa is a type of employment-based non-immigrant visa for enterprises to send their employees with professional knowledge to the United States to work. L-1B visa allows multinational companies that have not yet established an office in the United States to send professional and technical personnel to the United States to help with the establishment of U.S. subsidiaries/branches/affiliates. Generally, L-1B is valid for 3 years for the first time (1 year for start-ups) and can apply for an extension for once after expiration with a maximum 2 years of extension. The maximum validity period of the L-1B visa is five years.

A successful application for L-1B visa requires that the foreign company has a certain business scale and is associated with a U.S. company. The requirements for the employees are that: 1) the employee has worked for qualified overseas institutions continuously for one year in the past three years; 2) the employee will enter the United States with the intention to provide professional skills ("specialized knowledge") services for the U.S. branch/subsidiary/affiliated company of the same employer.

Difficulties & Breakthrough 

L-1B has high requirements for "specialized knowledge". How to prove that the applicant has " specialized knowledge "? The simplest way is to submit his or her educational certificate. However, Mr. M in this case only has a college degree, and his major is in the liberal arts, which is completely irrelevant to the mechanical field, petrochemical industry, or manufacturing industry. Therefore, to prove that he has "specialized knowledge " that meets the requirements of L-1B, we can only rely on his previous work experiences.

In 2015, USCIS issued a policy memorandum to the public, which clarifies the definition of " specialized knowledge". According to the new memorandum, L-1B beneficiaries can be considered as having "specialized knowledge" if they have "special knowledge" or "advanced knowledge", or both. USCIS defines the above two types of "knowledge" as follows:

1) Special knowledge refers to the individual's special knowledge of the products, services, research, equipment, technology, management or other interests and its application in international markets, as required by the multinational companies that submit visa applications, as well as the way of operation in the international market, which should be completely different from the general knowledge in specific fields;

2) Advanced knowledge refers to knowledge or expertise in the organization’s specific processes and procedures that are not commonly found in the relevant industry and is greatly developed or further along in progress, complexity, and understanding than that generally found within the petitioning employer.

L-1B application seems easy, as it seems easy to simply prepare evidence directly according to USCIS’ interpretation of "specialized knowledge"; However, this is not the case. The difficulty lies in the summary and demonstration of the applicant's special skills and expertise. In Mr. M’s case, MPLG’s immigration experts decided to start with Mr. M's job responsibilities, held many meetings with Mr. M, the workshop director, and the company's HR manager, deeply understood Mr. M's daily work content, carefully reviewed a lot of enterprise training materials, which include: introduction of the company's products and services, daily production processes, equipment testing methods, and collected the market status of the same industry in the United States, including the advantages and development strategies of the oil service company's products and services in the industry. 

Through this process, MOSAIC legal group obtains a large amount of evidence, proving that Mr. M's special skills and expertise are irreplaceable in the short term. If the company recruits highly skilled technicians like Mr. M in the United States, any new hire will still need at least 2 years of technical training to be as competent as Mr. M.

At the same time, we learned about Mr. M's job nature and responsibilities in the past 10 years in his Chinese workshop through careful investigation. We found that it was only after several years of training and practice that Mr. M was able to easily assemble, debug, and deal with daily faults of all equipment on a production line. Mr. M could even judge whether the machine was normal by listening to the voice of the machine while it was running. Due to the fine division of labor in the workshop, there are not many technicians who master the equipment of this production line, so, Mr. M is an irreplaceable and important technician even in the Chinese company.

Finally, a full set of materials convinced USCIS officer with detailed work evidence and strong recommendation letters. It proves that Mr. M has the ability to independently install and debug all equipment in the U.S. oilfield operation, and can skillfully use and maintain them, including several types of special equipment with intellectual property rights. It is quite difficult to find and train a professional with these skills in the United States in the short term, so it is urgent to send Mr. M to work in the U.S. for the Chinese company’s U.S. subsidiary, in order to maintain the normal operation of the company's oilfield operations.


Finally, Mr. M's L-1B application was approved successfully. This case once again shows that the immigration officer, based on the legal provisions, pays more attention to the "specialized knowledge" requirements of L-1B, that is, the skills and professional qualities that the applicant has or has developed during his or her work experience, and the value that the skills bring to the enterprise. The lack of education and professional background can be remedied by the above methods.

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