Companies who transfer workers to the U.S. through an L-1B visa have to show that those workers bring some sort of “specialized knowledge” to the job — that is, they have particular knowledge that would be hard, if not impossible, to find elsewhere in the United States. Obama plans to broaden the definition of “specialized knowledge” so much that it could conceivably used to cover just about any foreign worker a company wants to bring here.
Companies transferring foreign workers to the U.S. have to make the case to an “adjudicator” from the United States Customs and Immigration Services. It’s not a terribly tough job; the definition of “specialized knowledge” was already pretty loose. In 2006, the Department of Homeland Security inspector general investigated L-1Bs and found that “the program allows for the transfer of workers with ‘specialized knowledge,’ but the term is so broadly defined that adjudicators believe they have little choice but to approve almost all petitions.” Standards were tightened somewhat after the study, but now Obama wants to loosen them again.
Also, under Obama’s new rules, Customs and Immigration Services adjudicators will not be able to consider whether or not there are American workers available to do the job when determining whether to grant an L-1B visa. “A petitioner is not required to demonstrate the lack of readily available workers to perform the relevant duties in the United States,” according to Obama’s proposal.