DOS Releases New Guidance on L Visas, Specialized Knowledge
The Department of State (DOS) released a new cable in January to all diplomatic and consular posts on guidelines for L visa adjudications, particularly in regard to evaluating claims of “specialized knowledge.” DOS noted “concern about the potential for inconsistent adjudicatory standards at different constituent posts,” and said that “clear standards would allow for more consistent adjudication.” The cable adds, however, that “[u]nfortunately, the statutory language defining ‘specialized knowledge’ is not simple or clear.”
The cable notes that a worker is considered to be serving in a capacity involving specialized knowledge with respect to a company if he or she “has a special knowledge of the company product and its application in international markets or has an advanced level of knowledge of processes and procedures of the company.” The cable acknowledges that the definition contains undefined terms and elements of circular reasoning.
Given the lack of statutory clarity, the cable notes that determinations of specialized knowledge often depend on the consular officer’s expertise on a case-by-case basis. The cable, which outlines criteria that posts may use in making such adjudications, is available as a PDF.