This article was prepared with the assistance of ABIL, the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers, of which Loan Huynh, Fredrikson Immigration Department Chair, is a member.
The Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) Ombudsman's Annual Report for 2023 examines the effects of backlogs and additional challenges facing the agency. It recommends actions USCIS can take to address the human consequences and detrimental effects on the agency of backlogs.
Among other topics, the CIS Ombudsman reviewed requests for evidence (RFEs) in L-1 intracompany transferee petitions, specifically looking at RFEs issued for extension petitions for the L-1A and L-1B nonimmigrant categories. The report notes that the CIS Ombudsman has received stakeholder reports of overly broad and burdensome RFEs, duplicative RFEs, inconsistent adjudications, lack of deference to previous decisions, and a misunderstanding of the standard of proof.
To improve the quality of RFEs in L-1 petitions, the CIS Ombudsman recommends that USCIS take steps to:
- Develop and provide training that ensures adjudicators understand how to apply the preponderance of evidence legal standard to the evidence typically presented in each type of case;
- Develop and provide annual training to ensure that adjudicators know how to comply with applicable regulations for L-1 extension cases;
- Streamline the L-1 extension petition adjudication for cases involving the same facts with no material changes (such as the same petitioner/beneficiary/job);
- Update RFE templates and systems to ensure that they are current, understandable, and concise; and
- Establish a robust quality assurance program for RFEs.