National Visa Center Instruction Changes

  • November 12, 2014
  • Richard Newman

The National Visa Center (“NVC”) is the office of the Department of State that acts as the clearinghouse for documents for immigrant visa (green card) interviews to be held at American Embassies around the world. For most US Embassies and for many years the NVC has required applicants to submit all documents in the original to the NVC before they will schedule your interview at the US Embassy in your home country. Depending on the particular type of green card case, such documents might include birth certificates, marriage certificates, divorce judgments, family registers and police certificates.

As of November 12, 2014, the NVC will stop collecting original civil documents in support of immigrant visa applications. Most applicants will now be required to submit only photocopies of supporting documents, and will be instructed to take their original documents to their interviews for review at the Embassy. This new instruction does not include the Affidavit of Support forms, which petitioners will still submit to the NVC for initial evaluation.

Court Decision on L-1B Visa

The L-1 classification is a US work visa for intracompany transferees, usually from the Japanese parent company to its subsidiary company located in the United States. The L-1A classification is for managers and executive employees, while the L-1B is used for employees with specialized knowledge. The US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) has historically made approval of the L-1B visa category very difficult because the regulations defining “specialized knowledge” are ambiguous. This has been especially so in recent years, as USCIS has taken an increasingly narrow view of eligibility for the L-1B visa category.

However, in October, the US Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit overturned USCIS’s denial of an L-1B visa petition and criticized the agency’s inconsistent adjudication of L-1B specialized knowledge cases. In Fogo de Chao (Holdings) Inc. v. US Dept. of Homeland Security, the Court reaffirmed longstanding agency guidance by the agency on the concept of specialized knowledge. In its decision, the Court found the regulations on specialized knowledge to be ambiguous and directed USCIS to consider the economic inconvenience and employer would experience if it were unable to transfer an employee of the parent company to the U.S. It also found that a long record of prior L-1B petition approvals for the same US company could be relevant in current adjudications.

The decision is a hopeful development for L-1B sponsoring employers.

For more information, please contact:
Richard A. Newman
Attorney At Law