L VISAS: L BLANKET PETITIONS
Certain qualifying petitioners are eligible to file an L1 visa blanket petition, wherein the petitioner may apply for blanket approval of many L1A and L1B visa beneficiaries. These articles will explain the eligibility requirements for L blanket petitions and the L blanket petition procedure. To learn about the rules regarding L-1 (L1) visas in general and L-1A and L-1B visas, please follow the links included in this sentence.
ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS FOR FILING AN L BLANKET PETITION
In an L blanket petition, the petitioner may seek approval for L1 visa intracompany transferees to work at its parent and/or some or all of its branches, subsidiaries, and affiliates in the United States.1 The requirements for eligibility to file a blanket petition, found in 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(l)(4)(i), are as follows:
(A) The petitioner and each of its qualifying entities are engaged in commercial trade or services;
(B) The petitioner has an office in the United States that has been doing business for at least one year;
(C) The petitioner has three or more domestic and foreign branches, subsidiaries, or affiliates; and
(D) The petitioner and the other qualifying organizations have obtained approval of petitions for at least 10 L1A or L1B managers, executives, or specialized knowledge professionals during the previous 12 months; or have U.S. subsidiaries or affiliates with combined annual sales of at least $25 million; or have a U.S. work force of at least 1,000 employees.
The regulations limit L blanket petition eligibility to large and established companies. Points (A) and (D) of the regulation prevent nonprofits and small companies from filing L blanket petitions.2 Point (B) precludes new offices, which are not prevented from filing regular L petitions, from filing L blanket petitions.
With regard to the L1B category, the L blanket petition only applies to specialized knowledge jobs that are professional.3 A petitioner approved for filing an L blanket petition may file an individual L petition in lieu of the blanket petition for specific employees.4 The petitioner may not seek L classification for an employee under the blanket procedure and under an individual petition simultaneously.5 However, the petitioner may seek an L1 visa with an individual L1 visa petition for an employee who was previously denied under the blanket procedure.6
L BLANKET PETITION FILING AND APPROVAL PROCESS
In order to obtain L blanket petition approval, the petitioner must file a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker. Pursuant to 8 C.F.R. 214.2(l)(4)(iv), the Form I-129 must include:
(A) Evidence that the petitioner meets all of the requirements for filing an L blanket petition;
(B) Evidence that all of the entities for which approval is sought are qualifying organizations for purpose of L1 visa petitioning;
(C) Other evidence, if requested.
If a blanket petition is approved, it will be approved for an initial period of 3 years, and may be extended indefinitely provided that the petitioner remains eligible and complies with regulations.7 A blanket petition may also be approved in part (where certain organizations in the petition are found to be qualifying and others not).8 If there is a change that affects the qualifying relationships of any organizations in an approved blanket petition, the petitioner must file an amended Form I-129 explaining the changes.9 If a blanket petition is denied or reversed in part, the petitioner shall have the right to appeal.10
In order to transfer an employee abroad to the United States under an L blanket petition, the petitioner must complete a Form I-129S, Certificate of Eligibility for Intracompany Transferee under a Blanket Petition. The petitioner must also provide the beneficiary with the Form I-797 reflecting the petitioner’s blanket approval. The beneficiary of the Form I-129S may then apply for a visa at a consular office within six months of the date on the Form I-129S.11
The beneficiary’s eligibility for L status will be evaluated at the consular office. Consular officials are instructed to only grant L1 visas to beneficiaries of blanket petitions in “clearly approvable applications.”12 The decision to deny is non-reviewable, but the petitioner may seek an L1 visa under an individual petition provided that the individual petition includes the denial under the blanket procedure.13
An individual may only be approved under a blanket petition while the blanket petition is still valid. However, the individual may be approved for an initial period of up to 3 years on L status even when the validity of the blanket petition may expire before that period.14 If the blanket petition is set to expire while the L1A or L1B employee is working in the United States, the petitioner will be required to either request an extension of the validity of the blanket petition or to file an individual petition to support the employee’s status in the United States.15
TRANSFERRING EMPLOYEES UNDER L BLANKET PETITION
An L1A or L1B employee may be transferred to any organization improved in the blanket petition without referral to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) if he or she will be performing virtually the same job duties.16 However, if the L1A or L1B employee will be performing different job duties, the petitioner must complete a new Form I-129S and send it for approval to the USCIS director who approved the blanket petition.
EXTENSIONS OF STAY UNDER L BLANKET PETITION
In order to request an extension of stay for an L1A or L1B employee under a blanket petition, the petitioner must file a new Form I-129S along with a copy of the original Form I-129S. This may be done concurrently with a request to extend the validity of the blanket petition if necessary. However, the requests for extension of stay and extension of validity will be adjudicated separately.
CANADIANS WITH APPROVED L BLANKET PETITIONS
Canadians who are exempt from the L1 visa requirement but are seeking admission under an approved blanket petition may submit present a completed Form I-129S to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at a qualifying port of entry in order to seek admission under the blanket petition.17
L-1 BLANKET PETITIONS
The L blanket petition procedure has many benefits for large companies that require the services of many L-1 visa beneficiaries. Firstly, it streamlines the process by allowing the petitioner to seek approval for multiple qualifying organizations at the same time. This in turn makes transferring L-1A and L-1B employees under a blanket petition much simpler than under individual petitions, provided that the job responsibilities remain the same.
The L blanket procedure does not change the basic eligibility requirements for L-1A and L-1B visas. No organization that would be ineligible to petition for an L-1A or L-1B employee under the individual procedure will be eligible under the blanket procedure, and no individual will be eligible for an L-1A or L-1B visa under the blanket procedure who would not be eligible under the individual procedure. In fact, as we discussed earlier in the article, the blanket procedure limits both the organizations who may petition and the individuals who may be approved under the L-1B category. Nevertheless, the L blanket procedure is an effective tool for larger organizations that qualify. An organization considering the L blanket procedure should consult with an experienced immigration attorney for guidance on meeting the petitioner requirements and ensuring that the petitions for individual employees are filed with sufficient evidence for approval.
8 C.F.R. § 214.2(l)(4)(i)
See also: 9 FAM 41.54 N13.2(b)
See also: 9 FAM 41.54 N13.3
8 C.F.R. § 214.2(l)(4)(iii)
8 C.F.R. § 214.2(l)(4)(iii); 9 FAM 41.54 N13.8
8 C.F.R. § 214.2(l)(7)(B)(2)
8 C.F.R. § 214.2(l)(7)(B)(3)
8 C.F.R. § 214.2(l)(7)(C)
8 C.F.R. § 214.2(l)(8)(i)
8 C.F.R. § 214.2(l)(5)(ii)
9 FAM 41.54 N13.6
9 FAM 41.54 N13.7
8 C.F.R. § 214.2(l)(11)
8 C.F.R. § 214.2(l)(5)(G) [for the paragraph] 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(l)(17)(ii)
RESOURCES AND MATERIALS:
Kurzban, Ira J. Kurzban’s Immigration Law Sourcebook: A Comprehensive Outline and Reference Tool. 14th ed. Washington D.C.: ALIA Publications, 2014. 1009, Print. Treatises & Primers.
L-1A Intracompany Transferee Executive or Manager,” USCIS, June 17, 2013, available at http://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/temporary-workers/l-1a-intracompany-transferee-executive-or-manager