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Specialized Knowledge For Intra-Company Transferees(L-1Bs)

The definition of specialized knowledge has been adapted by the Immigration Service since its inception in 1970 from a requirement that specialized knowledge meant a proprietary knowledge of the company and an advanced level of expertise not readily available in the U.S. job market to a requirement of special knowledge of the company’s product and its application in international markets or advanced level of knowledge of processes and procedures of the company. To expand the specialized knowledge category to keep up with changes in the world economy that has been shifting from manufacturing to trade services, the Immigration Service has redefined the term to include special knowledge of the company’s product and its application in international markets or an advanced level of knowledge of the process and procedures of the company. Knowledge is special when it exceeds the normal, is distinct and has some unusual quality, uncommon and noteworthy. The knowledge needed now is not proprietary, but it must be different or uncommon.

Specialized knowledge is advanced knowledge in that it need not be held narrowly throughout the company, only that it be advanced knowledge of a process or a product, which would be difficult to impart to another employee without significant economic inconvenience to the U.S. or the foreign firm.

The criteria of specialize knowledge as amplified by the Immigration Service are the following:

  1. Knowledge that is valuable to the employers competiveness in the market place.
  2. Contributing to the U.S. employers knowledge of foreign operating conditions as a result of special knowledge not generally found in the industry.
  3. Significant assignments of the applicant that have enhanced productivity of the employer its competitiveness, image or financial position.
  4. Special capacity that can be acquired only through prior experience with the employer.
  5. Full acquaintance with the production process not easily transferred or taught to another person.

The specialized knowledge only relates to the knowledge of the applicant and whether there are similarly employed U.S. workers is not a material issue.


The Department of Homeland Security has recently extended Optional Practical Training (OPT) from 12 to 29 months for F-1 students who have a degree in science, technology, engineering or mathematics. The interim final rule provides for an automatic extension including work authorization for F-1 students who have a pending H-1B petition that can not be available until October 1st, 2008. Also the rules allow applying for OPT within 60 days before graduation. The work must be for a job directly related to the student’s major area of study.

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