The President's Executive Actions on Immigration: One Take-Away for Consular Officers


On November 20, 2014, President Obama announced a s eries of executive actions on immigration. While much of the focus of these ac tions has been on the President’s actions to prioritize deportations (“de port felons not families”), the actions also include some welcome relief regarding the interpretation of “specialized knowledge” in the L-1 visa context.

Specifically, USCIS has been tasked with providing:

“Clear, consolidated guidance on the meaning of “s pecialized knowledge” to bring greater clarity and integrity to the L-1B pro gram, improve consistency in adjudications, and enhance companies’ confidence in the program.

In a 2011 cable ("Guidance on L Visas and Specialize d Knowledge"), the Visa Office wrote: “Unfortunately, the statutory languag e defining 'specialized knowledge' is not simple or clear." The Visa Office noted that this statutory definition of specialized knowledge has been called "tautological" and contains "undefined, relativistic terms and elements of circ ular reasoning." As a result, the Visa Office noted:

“There is a concern about the potential for incons istent adjudicatory standards at different constituent posts and clear standards would allow for more consistent adjudication."

Presumably, the new USCIS guidance on specialized kno wledge will provide these clear standards for Consular Officers, and wi ll prove especially beneficial for those adjudicating Blanket L cases. If so, we w ill all have a lot to thank the President for.

This is an excerpt from The Consular Corner December 2014. Reprinted with permission

About The Author

Liam Schwartz Liam Schwartz is the principal in Liam Schwartz & Associates, a corporate immigration and consular law firm. Liam can be reached on Facebook, Linked-In and Twitter and by email at

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.