Report | Immigration

Abuses in the L-Visa Program: Undermining the U.S. Labor Market

Briefing Paper #275

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In a globalized business environment, it should come as no surprise that corporations conducting business activities in multiple national jurisdictions may need to place their experienced, high-level managerial and executive personnel and workers with highly specialized talents, in offices located in countries other than the ones where they were originally employed. Congress created the L-1 visa program in 1970 in order to facilitate this exact type of international intracompany employee transfer—and since then, the program has been used by multi-national companies with offices in the United States to temporarily transfer foreign employees to work in their U.S offices, subsidiaries, and affiliates.

Under current law, before transferring an employee from abroad, multi-national companies are not required to prove or attest that there are no adequately qualified U.S. workers available to fill the positions that are eventually awarded to L-1 visa beneficiaries. Is this appropriate? Are L-1 employees coming to the United States to complement U.S. workers, or to replace and displace them? If so, do U.S. workers deserve some degree of protection? Some other visa categories require companies that petition for temporary work visas to attest that no U.S. worker will be displaced or have their wages or working conditions adversely affected by the new temporary worker. Should these or other additional safeguards be part of the L-visa program for the benefit of U.S. workers and the labor market?


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