There were 66,700 L-1 visas issued in the 2013 fiscal year, according to U.S. State Department data.
What the memo did not do is reduce any of the concerns that critics have of the L-1 visa. The IEEE has been critical of L-1 visa use by outsourcing companies that move jobs overseas.
Robert Deasy, the deputy director of programs at the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said the memo's guidance may "be solid ground work for consistency in adjudications."
Daniel Costa, director of immigration law and policy research at the Economic Policy Institute, said the administration should have brought its proposed changes through a regulation process, with open comments.
Instead, the administration is making the changes through "an interpretive guidance memo because it's easier to do whatever they want to do, and they don't have to consider the public's input. They might still accept comments, but it will be a sham notice and comment," Costa said.
Norm Matloff, a professor of computer science at the University of California, Davis, and a longtime critic of the L-1 visa, said the abuse of foreign tech worker programs pervades the entire industry.
"Well-qualified U.S. citizens and permanent residents are being shunned in favor of foreign workers by all the firms, including the famous Silicon Valley companies," Matloff said. He criticized the memo, in a a blog post for what it failed to do, such as asking Congress to impose a wage floor for L-1 workers.
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