USCIS Shores Up L-1 Visa Proxy Petitioner Policy

In a policy memorandum clarifying proxy votes used to establish requisite entity control for L-1 visa petitioners, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) implements Buy American, Hire American policies. Buy American, Hire American encompasses the approach Trump Administration officials bring to both immigrant and nonimmigrant policies.

In a December 29 release, USCIS officials provided guidance not previously addressed around the establishment of entity control. “The new policy memorandum clarifies that when proxy votes are a determining factor in establishing control, the petitioner must now show the proxy votes are irrevocable from the time of filing through the time USCIS adjudicates the petition along with evidence the relationship will continue during the approval period requested,” according to the document.

The memorandum intends to shore up the integrity of the nation’s guest worker program. L-1 visa status allows nonimmigrant foreign nationals to enter the United States for the purpose of work. L-1 visa validity ranges for relatively short periods– anywhere from 3 months to 5 years. The visas carry a reciprocity schedule with participating countries.

In April 2017 when President Trump signed the Buy American, Hire American Executive Order, USCIS leadership announced an initial focus on “employers petitioning for L-1B workers who will primarily work offsite at another company or organization’s location to ensure that they are complying with the requirements from the L-1 Visa Reform Act of 2004.” The requirements of the reform act “were meant to help prevent United States workers from being displaced by foreign workers.”

While USCIS officials clarify the guidance around irrevocable proxy votes, the policy update doesn’t “change the requirement for petitioners to file an amended petition when the ownership or control of the organization changes after its original L-1 petition was approved.”

USCIS provides access to L-1 employer petition approval information with links to both FY2015 and FY2016 data sets. Along with other data– H-1B, H-2B and Employment Authorization Document information, the release of the information supports agency commitment to transparency.

Other policy implementation methods adopted through the president’s Buy American, Hire American order include enhanced fraud and abuse detection and prevention as well as a push for E-Verify, an employment eligibility verification system.