L-1 BLANKET PETITION
In order to facilitate companies that are frequent users of the L-1 visa category or large multinational organizations, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) has devised a special set of L-1 procedures called the blanket petition program. These procedures are devised in order to save company time, money and efforts for qualifying employees for intra-company transfers. This procedure is applicable to managerial and executive transfers and transfers involving professionals who have a specialized knowledge.
As per this procedure the applicant company needs only one ‘Blanket L’ approval for all intra-company transfers. The approval is granted for an initial three-year period, and this period can be extended thereafter into an approval of indefinite duration at the end of the first three years.
Eligibility to Qualify
The USCIS has set following standards for a company to qualify under this blanket petition program:
The following standards have been set for an employee to qualify under this blanket petition program:
Filing the Blanket Petition
The Blanket petition must be filed with the Service Center that has jurisdiction over the US petitioner’s head office address. A premium filing will ensure a two week response. Additional organizations may be added to the blanket petition by the filing of an amended blanket petition. The petitioner will be notified of the approval of the blanket petition on Form I-797, Notice of Action.
Admission for an Alien in the United States after Approval of the Blanket Petition
Once the USCIS has approved the Company’s Blanket petition, then each time an employee is to be temporarily transferred to the US, there is no need to file separate L-1 petitions on his/ her behalf with USCIS. An alien seeking admission to the United States under the blanket L-1 must present himself for an interview to a consular officer at a US Consulate outside the US or, in the case of a visa exempt alien, to a service officer at a port of entry.
The company that is listed on the approved blanket petition that wants to undertake Intracompany transfer of an alien to the United States should complete and submit a Form I-129S, which is referred to as Certificate of Eligibility for Intracompany Transferee Under a Blanket Petition, in triplicate. The company must attach a copy of the Form I-797 relating to the approved blanket petition, to the original and with each copy of the Form I-129S. If the alien is visa exempt, the Form I-129S and the copies should be presented to the inspecting officer at the time the alien makes an application for admission to the United States.
The Form I-129S must be submitted to the consular officer or immigration officer evidencing that (i) the alien was employed in a qualifying capacity for 1 continuous year in the 3-year period of time preceding the alien’s application for admission, and (ii) that he or she will be employed in a qualifying capacity for a United States company included in the blanket petition. For purposes of the L-1 Blanket Petition, a qualifying capacity means that the alien was employed as a manager, an executive, or as a specialized knowledge professional.
The consular officer/ officer at the port of entry determines whether the alien is eligible for L-1 status. If eligible, the alien is issued an L-1 visa and Form I-129S. The alien then presents both the L-1 visa and the endorsed Form I-129S is endorsed.
Pursuant to 8 CFR 214.2(l)(4)(ii), only managers, executives and specialized knowledge professionals as defined in 8 CFR 214.2(l)(1)(ii)(E) are eligible under the L-1 Blanket Petition.
A specialized knowledge professional is an alien with specialized knowledge and who is a member of the professions as defined in section 101(a)(32) of the Act. Aliens possessing specialized knowledge who are not professionals are NOT eligible for L-1 classification under the L-1 Blanket Petition. A petitioner seeking to accord status to a non-professional alien with specialized knowledge will have to file an individual L-1 petition on the alien’s behalf.
Period of Admission-Initial Entry
An L-1 nonimmigrant initially seeking admission under a blanket petition may be admitted for a period of three years even though the initial validity of the blanket petition may expire before the end of the 3-year period. The validity period of the supporting blanket petition will be listed on the Form I-797. Inspectors should not limit an L-1 alien’s initial admission to the United States to less than 3 years unless an issue arises concerning the validity of the alien’s passport. The alien’s passport must be valid in accordance with section 212(a)(7)(B)(i)(I) of the Act and IFM Appendix 15-2, unless an alien is passport exempt. An L-1 alien may not be admitted beyond the validity period of his or her passport.
Period of Admission-Subsequent Applications for Admission
An L-1 alien may apply for admission to the United States during the validity period of the blanket petition. An L-1 alien may not be admitted for a period of time that exceeds the statutory limitations on L-1 stay in the United States. An L-1 alien who has spent either seven years in the United States in a managerial or executive capacity or five years in a specialized knowledge capacity may not be readmitted to the United States as an L-1 unless the alien has resided and been physically present outside the United States for the immediate previous year, except for brief visits for business or pleasure.
An L-1 alien who departs the United States and applies for admission to the United States would be considered as making a new application for admission to the United States. The L-1 Blanket Petition must also be valid at the time that the alien applies for a subsequent admission as an L-1 nonimmigrant. On subsequent applications for admission to the United States, inspecting officers must determine the length of time that the alien has previously been in the United States as an L-1 alien. In no case may the alien be admitted for a period of time in excess of three years on any individual (or subsequent application for) admission. In addition, on subsequent applications for admission the L-1 alien should present to the inspecting officer Form I-797, showing that the L-1 petition remains valid, and a Form I-129S. Of course, the normal passport and visa requirements for admission continue to apply on subsequent admissions to the United States.
If a determination is made that an alien’s L-1 Visa application under the Blanket program is not “clearly approvable”, the Visa will be denied but the alien’s employer may still file an individual L-1 on his/her behalf with USCIS.
An alien may legitimately come to the United States as an L-1 and, at the same time, lawfully seek to become a permanent resident of the United States. The filing of an application for, or approval of a permanent labor certification, an immigrant visa preference petition, or the filing of an application for adjustment of status shall not be the basis for denying an L-1 admission to the United States.
Click here to see USCIS Memo on L-1 Blanket Petitions.
An L-2 visa is granted to the spouse and minor children of the L-1 applicant. An L-2 spouse may obtain authorized to work, and the children may continue their studies.
The information in this article is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice and does not establish an attorney-client relationship between Jethmalani & Nallaseth PLLC and the viewer.