U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) operates four Service Centers that adjudicate applications and petitions filed by employers and individuals. These applications and petitions seek immigration benefits under the Immigration and Nationality Act. The California Service Center (in Laguna Niguel, Calif.) and the Vermont Service Center (in St. Albans, Vt.) adjudicate H-1B Specialty Occupation, L-1 Intracompany Transferee, O-1 Extraordinary Ability, and P-1 Professional Athlete/Artist/Entertainer petitions (among others). Statistics recently obtained by The Los Angeles Times reflect some disturbing inconsistencies in each Center’s approval, denial and request-for-evidence rates regarding H-1B, L-1, O-1, and P-1 adjudications.

For example, in the current fiscal year, the percentage of L-1 cases denied by the California Service Center (CSC) – 26.7% – is more than twice that of the Vermont Service Center (VSC)’s 10.4%. Similarly, the CSC issued more than twice as many requests for evidence (RFEs) in L-1 cases as compared with the VSC. A surprising 40% of L-1 cases filed with the CSC trigger an RFE.

O-1 and P-1 cases fair just as poorly at the CSC. In the current fiscal year, the CSC’s O-1 denial rate is running at 19.6%; the VSC’s is just 5.5%. Whereas the VSC issued RFEs in 16.4% of the O-1 cases it reviewed, the CSC issued RFEs in 37.5%. The disparity in P-1 cases is even more shocking: the CSC issued RFEs in a whopping 44.3% of P-1 cases it reviewed and denied 26.8%; the VSC issued RFEs in 14.9% and denied only 3.9%.

The full statistical tables for FY 2008, FY 2009, and FY 2010 (through July 2010) can be viewed here. The Los Angeles Times article is available here.