I-290B AAO Appeal for L-1A Visa


  • Nationality: China
  • Case: I-290B AAO Appeal for L-1A Visa
  • Challenges:
    1. Lee had more than 10 visa denial records
    2. Petitioner’s corporate documents were vague and conflicting
    3. Lee’s case demanded the highest level of accuracy and persuasiveness
    4. Petitioner’s office could only sit about 2 employees
    5. Consequences of a denial would mean loss of tens of millions of dollars
    6. L-1A Appeal is uncommon as most petitioners choose Premium Processing refile
    7. Lee was completely hopeless and needed much emotional support


We all have a dream that we want to achieve; sometimes it’s far and obscure, and other times it seems like our plans are working out. This is the story of an entrepreneur who spent decades in interior design and is finally ready to compete as a key player in the American market.

Living life as an American entrepreneur in interior design was a dream that Mr. Lee was determined to make a reality. Yet, to turn his dream into reality, he had to face a series of heartbreaking rejections.

Mr. Lee was unfortunate in any visa application he filed. For some reason, his B-2 visa applications were denied more than 5 times and he even tried F-1 student visa. When life knocks you down, you may stay down or get up, and Mr. Lee was one who always chose to get up.

In 2017, Mr. Lee retained a previous attorney to file an L-1A application for him. An L-1A visa is for a foreign executive to transfer to a U.S. affiliate office. Mr. Lee spent millions of dollars to prepare and establish a business at one of America’s prime business locations. He felt confident that his 2017 L-1A application would get approved; however, USCIS quickly denied his application. Taking some comfort from friends, Mr. Lee refocused on the business and applied for the L-1A visa again in 2018. Once again though, Mr. Lee was denied, which sent him into a miserable time of self-doubt. That was around when he found Tsang & Associates, PLC.

After reviewing Mr. Lee’s case, Joseph Tsang was confident about his chance of approval. Our L-1A/EB-1C team affirmed Mr. Lee’s qualifications and believed that the reason his initial submissions were denied was that they were not extensively explained as they needed to be. So, we got to work. We spent countless hours designing and producing a soundproof case, where we explained every piece of evidence and build a solid web of references to prove every qualification requirement. The Attorney Support Letter alone ended up being about 60 pages.

Mr. Lee was bewildered when USCIS sent an extensive Request for Evidence (RFE)—more extensive than any RFE we have seen over our 30 years of practice. USCIS did not see the slightest qualification for any of L-1A qualifications. However, we did not want to give up on Mr. Lee’s dream, and like Mr. Lee had been doing, we persevered.

We had three months to craft a foolproof RFE response. After countless hours of continuous revisions, strategy sessions, and improvements, we customized an RFE to present Mr. Lee’s qualifications as clear and direct as possible, making it extremely easy for the adjudicating officer to read and refer to the corresponding evidence.

When we sent in the petition, we were confident for an approval—but we were wrong.

In February 2019, we received a Denial Notice that dismissed every point we argued and every evidence presented. At this point, we heard Mr. Lee’s voice shaken and cracked; he believed that it was hopeless, that all his hard work would never be actualized into a successful business in the United States. As we grew closer with Mr. Lee and went through his struggles together, we could tell this was the final straw for him, yet we refused to give up on his dream.


We advised Mr. Lee not to file another Premium Process just for the 14-day response or even a Motion to Reopen or Motion to Reconsider, lest we would be stuck in a never-ending cycle of unreasonable denials. We advised to file an L-1A Appeal, which is very uncommon. L-1A Appeal is uncommon because it is easier for an attorney to just file again, and hopefully a new officer would look over it and provide a result in 14 days. The Administrative Appeals Office’s (AAO) I-290B appeal process would take more than a year to review.

We assessed that Mr. Lee’s case was unjustly adjudicated. If anyone should file for an L-1A Appeal, it would be Mr. Lee. In the AAO appeal, we explicitly argued every regulation, case law, and policy governing L-1A visa. We put together solid legal arguments and presented clear references to prove that Mr. Lee’s L-1A denial was unjust. In addition to the regulations and evidence, we explained once again how Mr. Lee’s business would clearly benefit the American economy and consumers, which is not something the government wishes to reject.

Among the many things we did are detailed Expense Analyses to show the AAO that it would be highly irrational for a successful business executive to make the decision that the Denial Notice seems to suggest. The unrealistic expectations USCIS was expecting on Mr. Lee specifically would make it impossible for any foreign business to venture in the United States. Most of the top businesses today started small, so just because Mr. Lee’s American startup satellite would be small at first, it does not mean it will never expand.

We created all sorts of charts, tables, and graphs to organize Mr. Lee’s documents and demonstrate his qualifications clearly. Each explanation, argumentation, and presentation is referenced heavily by categories of exhibits. Each of the exhibits are argued once again on a separate document.

As we were writing the AAO Appeal, we were also there for Mr. Lee emotionally. Mr. Lee’s perseverance was starting to fade away and we felt that it was our job to guide that hope back to him so he can achieve his visions. We submitted the appeal in March 2019.


Kobe Bryant once said “Great things come from hard work and perseverance. No excuses.” It is an accurate representation of this case. Mr. Lee had experienced constant denials, yet he pushed and worked hard to get what he wanted—a chance to expand his business in America.

It was not until February 2020, a year later, that the AAO appeals office sent a comforting notice stating that the USCIS’s adjudication was wrong. Mr. Lee’s appeal was sustained, compensating the heartbreaks and toils we have had with him together as a team.

Saying that Mr. Lee was joyous would be an understatement. This I-290b AAO appeal for L-1A visa case is an example of what it takes to face injustices one may encounter with the law, and we couldn’t be happier that we were a part of Mr. Lee’s success. We are honored to help Mr. Lee’s dream become a reality and cannot wait to see what the future holds for his business.

*Name has been changed to protect client identity

If you are looking for assistance with a visa denial or other visa assistance, schedule an appointment to talk with us today.

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