USCIS adopts recent AAO decision about L-1A functional managers

On April 14, 2016, USCIS issued a Policy Memorandum officially adopting Matter of Z-A-, Inc. and establishing policy guidance that applies to and binds all USCIS employees adjudicating L-1A petitions for managers. In its holding in Matter of Z-A-, Inc., the Administration Appeals Office ("AAO") confirmed USCIS officers must weigh all relevant factors in determining whether the beneficiary of an L-1A will manage an essential function, including evidence of the beneficiary's role within the wider qualifying international organization. 

In the instant case, USCIS had initially denied the employer's L-1A functional manager petition on behalf of one of its company Vice Presidents. In its denial, USCIS stated the Petitioner did not establish it had an organizational structure sufficient to support the Beneficiary in a qualifying managerial capacity in light of there only being two U.S. payroll employees in sales and administrative positions. USCIS suggested that because of this small organizational structure, the Petitioner had not adequately demonstrated how Beneficiary would be working in a managerial capacity rather than as a sales person or administrator. The AAO disagreed and found USCIS failed to take into account the fact that the Beneficiary, in addition to supervising the two U.S. payroll employees, also oversaw the duties performed by eight foreign staff located in Japan whose roles support the U.S. enterprise.

In making future determinations concerning managing an essential function of an organization, USCIS must now consider evidence presented by the Petitioner of personnel employed by another related entity within the qualifying organization who perform day-to-day non-managerial tasks of the petitioning entity.  To read the new Policy Memo and AAO decision in the Matter of Z-A-, Inc., visit USCIS's policy memorandum site.