L Visa Blanket Petitions

It’s often the case that large, well-established, multinational companies experience the need to transfer multiple employees to the United States by way of the L-1 visa category. Does U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) mandate that these petitioners (or their well-paid attorneys) file an individual L visa application for each employee they seek to transfer?

Fortunately, no. In such a situation, the company is able to file what’s called an L-1 blanket petition, which establishes to USCIS in advance the requisite intra-company relationship needed for any L visa.

Employers should be aware, however, that obtaining approval of a blanket L petition does not guarantee that an employee will automatically earn L-1A classification. What it does provide is flexibility for employers to transfer eligible employees to the United States quickly and on short notice, without having to file an individual petition with USCIS for each employee.

Process: Short and Sweet

In most cases, once a blanket petition has been approved, the employer only needs to complete Form I-129S, Nonimmigrant Petition Based on Blanket L Petition, and thereafter send it abroad to the prospective transferee with a copy of the blanket petition approval notice and other required evidence so that he or she may present it to a U.S. consulate and apply for an L-1 visa.

Who Qualifies?

In order to establish eligibility for blanket L certification, the employer must prove the following:

  • Each qualifying organization of the company must be engaged in a commercial trade or services.
  • The company must already have an office in the United States that has been operating for at least one year.
  • The company must have at least three domestic and/or foreign branches, affiliates, or subsidiaries.
  • In addition, the company must meet one of the following three conditions:
    1. The company must have obtained a minimum of 10 L-1 approvals in the 12-month period prior to filing a blanket petition.

    2. The company and its branches, subsidiaries, or affiliates must have combined annual sales of at least $25 million dollars.

    3. The company has a workforce in the United States of at least 1,000 employees.

USCIS sends verification of blanket petition approval to a petitioning employer via Form I-797, Notice of Action. An alien seeking admission into the U.S. under the blanket L-1 must present a copy of this form at a port of entry.

Blanket Validity Period

The initial validity period of an approved blanket petition is three years, but the petitioner can file for an extension of the blanket petition for up to seven years. Should a petitioner fail to file for an extension, or if USCIS denies an extension request, the petitioner is barred from filing a new blanket petition for three years. L-1A or L-1B nonimmigrants initially seeking admission under a blanket petition can be admitted for a period of three years, even if the initial validity of the blanket petition expires before the end of that three-year period. Thereafter, the term can be extended up to seven years for L-1A holders or up to five years for L-1B holders.

For more information on the L-1 category, refer to the following links:

Updated 05/18/2017